Live Review: Neil Young; Headlines (Cursive, The Faint, Bright Eyes)…

Category: Blog — @ 6:25 pm April 30, 2009

Due to a broken pipe in my basement, I arrived at last night’s Neil Young concert four minutes before he went on stage — I couldn’t have planned it any better. After three shows at Qwest where my seats were abysmal (Fleetwood Mac, The Who, Springsteen), I had prime seating for this show — atop the first tier, right by section 120 — terrific sight lines. There were plenty of other good seats available, too, as the upper tiers were curtained off and only about half the floor was filled. The OWH is reporting attendance of 6,000 — pathetic. Despite being one of the best live touring performers in history (his live CDs and concert films are as popular as his studio recordings) no one really expected Young to sell out or even draw very well here — more testimony to the current listening trends of the American Idol/Hannah Montana sink-hole generation.

Anyway, right around 9:30, Neil and his band ripped into their opening number, and like Qwest shows, I was startled at how bad it sounded — not Neil, but the Qwest’s sound system. It had all the dynamics of a transistor radio. Teresa turned to me and said “Wow, this sounds just plain bad.” Really bad. And it never got any better, though just like when you listen to your buddy’s shitty car stereo, after awhile you think it sounds better, when in fact it doesn’t. Part of the problem is the cow barn’s terrible acoustics, part of the problem is being spoiled by Slowdown and The Waiting Room. And part of it is my general dislike for arena shows. I don’t know, maybe all arena shows sound like shit these days…

It didn’t stop Neil and the boys from putting on one helluva show, though. No one’s updated the set list at sugarmtn site, but what he played was close to what he’s been doing the last few nights (which are listed there). The highlights were 10-minute-plus versions of “Change Your Mind” and “Down By the River,” as well as a sweet version of “Tonight’s the Night.” Despite being in his early 60s, Young’s voice is solid, as is his roaring guitar work. The only sign of age other than his general puffy, old-dude-with-long-hair appearance was flubbing up “Cinnamon Girl” and “The Needle and the Damage Done,” both of which he had to start over.

The concert’s highlight was the encore — a violent version of Beatle’s “A Day in the Life,” where Young tore out the strings on his Les Paul and left it leaning against an amp, battered and broken.

* * *

Here are a few web stories of note:

The first reviews of Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band’s upcoming album, Outer South, have surfaced in the webosphere. In this review, The UConn Daily Campus gave it 3 out of 5 stars, summarizing with: “Much like other wunderkinds who produce a lot of material, Oberst just needs to find himself a capable editor before producing an album that is more subpar than superior. This album walks that line precariously – but it’s such a tight line that one can’t help but wonder when it will snap.”

The LA Times was even less complimentary in this review, giving the album two stars and saying: “If only Oberst had seared more of his sirloin-steak country-rock with a fraught sense of place, the “Outer South” of his title that’s left largely unexplored.”

Don’t ask me. I’ve yet to hear the disc.

Cursive is in the midst of a publicity tour. In an interview in the GW Hatchet, guitarist Ted Stevens gives props to The Better Beatles: “There’s another band called The Better Beatles that are from Omaha. I just heard of them right before I left on this tour. It’s kind of a No Wave, early ’80s artsy project where they get a bunch of Beatles music with just a synthesizer and a bass and a little bit of that New York – like I said, No Wave – that Laurie Anderson kind of spoken word. It’s pretty hilarious; I’ve been trying to turn people onto BetterBeatles.com. It’s really interesting for a band that existed for probably one afternoon [laughing] and they made one record; it’s pretty incredible … what they’re doing with that record. It just got reissued.” He also talks about the joys of reading Dan Brown.

In another Kasher interview, this time with The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (read it here), Tim talks about opening for Mastodon: “Opening for a metal band, there was the fear of being booed off stage night after night. It really worked out great. It’s funny, the first night there was this huge guy in the middle of the crowd, friendly, big smile on his face, flipping us off. His smile said, ‘Hey, buddy, don’t take it too hard. Understand that you’re opening for Mastodon. I don’t give a [expletive] about you.’ I laughed about it. He wasn’t antagonizing. That was the last time we got any heckling.”

The Faint also have been getting some web attention in the past few days. My favorite Q&A exchange from this piece in blackbookmag.com:

BBM: Where’s the craziest place you’ve had sex?
TF: “Someone else’s house while they were trying to sell it to us.”

Nice.

* * *

Singer/songwriter Sarah Xiong opens for Andrew Ancona tonight at The Barley St. $5, 9 p.m.

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