Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Neil Young - Cork 10 July 2014

10 July 2014, Live At The Marquee, Cork Ireland
Love And Only Love
Goin' Home
Days That Used To Be
After The Gold Rush
Love To Burn
Separate Ways
Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Don't Cry No Tears
Blowin'In The Wind
Red Sun
Heart Of Gold
Psychedelic Pill
Rockin' In The Free World
Who's Gonna Stand Up And Save The Earth?
Roll Another Number

Neil Young - vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica
Frank Sampedro - electric guitar, keyboards, vocals
Ralph Molina - drums, vocals
Rick Rosas - bass
Dorene "Sweetie" Carter - vocals
YaDonna West – vocals

What a show, what a venue! The Marquee is a glorified circus tent in a showground near the Cork dockland area, by the River Lee. But they attract some great acts (Bob Dylan played there recently). Queuing from about 2pm was a bit of a bind but seasoned railers know that it’s just part of the experience. We got to hear the sound check which to our amazement included an electric After The Gold Rush. “Oh he won’t play it though” was the consensus. The security folks had a great attitude and were well organised to prevent any queue jumping. So it was about 6:30 when we trooped up in single file to the holding area adjacent to the main tent. Then at about 7pm we were let in and our little group of diehard Rusties took centre spot on the rail.

This version of Crazy Horse was hastily put together after bass guitarist Billy Talbot suffered a mild stroke. The word is that he’s ok and making a speedy recovery. Rick “the bass player” Rosas stepped in at short notice (he was touring with Pegi Young’s band until Neil made the call!). Two backing singers, Dorene "Sweetie" Carter and YaDonna West, completed the line-up to cover for Billy and take some of the vocal ‘weight’ off Frank and Ralph’s shoulders. 

The band warmed up with Love And Only Love from Ragged Glory and followed with Goin’ Home first debuted at Sheffield Arena in 2001 (yes, I was there too). Cracking stuff with Neil playing very fluid guitar on Old Black, his trusty Les Paul. The next two songs were played on the Gretsch White Falcon (GWF). The doubters were silenced by an amazing electric After The Gold Rush; surely one of Neil’s finest re-workings of a song for some time.

Separate Ways, written in the early seventies about his break-up with Carrie Snodgrass, and still unreleased, was moving and emotional. Only Love Can Break Your Heart, also played on the GWF, turned into an audience sing along. There was an intensity about the way Neil delivered these songs which is difficult to describe in words but it felt like they were fresh from the songwriter’s pen. Somehow new.

If that wasn’t enough, the acoustic set was utterly absorbing. Between visits to the teleprompter, Neil seemed to be singing to about 5 or 6 of us on the rail. He stared at us intently and if you’ve ever met that glance you know you’ve seen something mystical. Brought tears to my eyes.

Then it was back to electric music with a rousing Powderfinger, once again I was impressed with Neil’s guitar playing; so melodic and yet on fire. Bizarrely in a mini-coda at the end of Rockin’ In The Free World, he played the melody of God Save The Queen (as in the National Anthem) – a rather eccentric choice for the Irish Republic! 

The main show ended with a new song, debuted in Iceland – the previous gig – Who’s Gonna Stand Up And Save The Earth? The song is driven by a pulsating riff and asks the obvious question, including the lines “Ban fracking now save the waters, And build a life for our sons and daughters”. A rousing finish. The encore Roll Another Number turned into another audience sing along and ended the show on a real high. Amusingly, Rick seemed to have forgotten the song and watched first Frank and then Neil intently to follow what they were playing. Worth the entrance fee alone!

To me this was the most exciting, emotional, breathtaking show from Neil this century (and I’ve seen a few). Everything I wanted and more. A new song, a song I’ve never heard live before (Separate Ways), old songs re-worked, guitar playing like you get from no-one else on the planet and an emotional intensity you could have picked up and hugged!

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