“The Thursday, July 16, Rebel Content Tour performance at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, New Jersey, proved to be the longest so far – a three-hour behemoth filled with long jam sessions, according to reports from concert-goers.
Ryan Cormier at The News Journal in Delaware, a Gannett newspaper, writes that Neil Young is no “old man,” as he delivers a massive missive of old and new songs. He states:
“At the Susquehanna Bank Center on Thursday, (Lukas) Nelson, 26, and his youthful band seemingly energized Young, 69, who treated fans to a three-hour-and-15-minute slow burn marathon tour of his career bookended by a pair of his greatest hits.
“He opened the show by appearing out of the darkness sitting at his piano for a solo rendition of ‘After the Goldrush’ and wrapped up at midnight with a squealing ‘Cinnamon Girl’ send-off, showing the dynamic range that has marked his more than 50 years in the spotlight.
The only sign of time slowing the still-hard-charging Young was a pink wrap around his right wrist. Everything else was there: his gentle, well-preserved voice, the distinctively eccentric stomps and Crazy Horse-style guitar freakouts.
“A mid-set, near-transcendental run thorough ‘Down by the River’ lasted nearly 20 minutes with Young and the band sharing solos and Young hauntingly whispering, ‘Shot my baby dead.’
Young is at his best when a fire lit – whether it’s a cause that needs defending or a big power needs to be fought, Cormier says.
“On stage or in song, there’s no hiding when Young has you in his cross-hairs. Just ask former President George W. Bush who endured a focused attack for years from the man who wrote ‘Ohio’ 45 years ago.”
The Detroit News is reporting that Neil Young went ten minutes past the venue’s curfew and was fined $10,000.
Adam Graham of the Detroit News calls Young’s show with Promise of the Real “Ragged, Raw and Curfew-Breaking.”
The Rebel Content Tour performed 23 songs Tuesday, July 14 at DTE Energy Music Center in Clarkston, Michigan.
Graham said Promise of the Real “plays like a younger, scrappier version of Young’s own Crazy Horse.”
He writes: “Young locked in with his bandmates throughout the show, jamming with them during extended breakdowns like he was 20 years younger than his 69 years. And songs such as ‘Cowgirl in the Sand’ and ‘Everybody Knows This is Nowhere’ were given new life, the years falling away as Young fell into sync with his bandmates. (Young is known to be a audio junkie, and Tuesday’s show sounded nothing short of pristine.)”
He describes Young as “ragged and lived in, his voice a haunting yowl that’s only grown more honest with age. He wears his rust well.”
“’Mother Earth (Natural Anthem),’ from 1990’s ‘Ragged Glory,’ set the tone for much of the evening. Young pumped it out alone at an organ, singing, ‘respect Mother Earth and her healing ways/ or trade away our children’s days’ in pained, ghostly tones. At the close of the song, he was shooed away by a team of fumigators in all-white coveralls, a bookend to the pair of farmers who took the stage earlier in the evening to spread seeds and water the potted flowers at the foot of the stage. (Give it up for performance art, everybody!)
“After closing the set with a rocking, foot stomping ‘Love and Only Love,’ Young and his bandmates returned after the venue’s 11 p.m. curfew for an encore of ‘Don’t Be Denied’ and ‘Roll Another Number,’ a pair of early-to-mid-70s album tracks (from ‘Time Fades Away’ and ‘Tonight’s the Night,’ respectively).
It was an adventurous way to end the night, with Young forgoing bigger hits and tossing caution to the wind, but he long ago stopped playing other peoples’ games. Tuesday night was a show for the hardcore fans, and it was a rich reward for 40 years of loyalty.
Here’s a review of the Cincinnati show from a freelance writer, Walter Tunis, who writes for the Lexington-Herald Leader. This is the five show of the Rebel Content Tour, with Neil Young and Promise of the Real. They performed July 13 at the Riverbend Music Center.
“Backed by the youthful Promise of the Real quintet, the same band that fortifies Young’s wild new protest album The Monsanto Years, the double Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee offered a two hour-plus retrospective that moved through the years as readily as it did a series of diverse musical temperaments that reached several epic, electric crescendos with his new performance compatriots.
“The program nodded generously to solo tunes, folk ensemble-infused works and torrential rock ‘n’ roll jams. That’s a lot of musical traffic to cover, but Young traveled through it all, at age 67, (editor’s note: Should be 69 here) as tirelessly as the Promise of the New members, all of which were easily half his age, if not younger.
“Curiously, Young saved six of the seven songs performed from the album for the second half of the show, preferring to preface the new material with midtempo Americana staples like Out on the Weekend and Unknown Legend that would have fit neatly into a Farm Aid set.
“Then came the evening’s most potent musical cloudburst, a still-venomous Ohio that Young dedicated to the four students killed four hours away and 45 years ago at Kent State University. “They were,” Young said with pokerfaced candor of the protesting students, “a threat.”
“Bigger noise, however, surrounded three extended romps recovered from three different decades – 1969’s Down By the River, 1972’s Words (Between the Lines of Age) and 1990’s Love and Only Love. Here, Young cut loose with long, jagged guitar runs that delighted the multi-generational audience as well as the Promise of the New disciples onstage with him. Watching co-guitarist Lukas Nelson beam an electric grin as Young traded Black and Decker solos with him during the closing sparks of Down By The River was the Kodak moment of the night.”
About 90 minutes into his concert at Pinnacle Bank Arena Saturday night, Neil Young strapped on “Old Black” and started to whistle, kicking off the jaunty “A Rock Star Bucks a Coffee Shop.”
With Promise of the Real chugging slim behind him like Crazy Horse, Young blasted Monsanto and Starbucks — and got a cheer from the crowd of more than 6,000 when he sang of the “fields of Nebraska,” while stating farmers won’t be able to grow what they want to grow.
“We don’t want to offend anybody,” Young said in the only statement he made beyond “thank you” during the show. “But we won’t be happy till they’re not happy.”
Wolgamott writes that Young opened the show with a five-song acoustic set, starting on piano with “After the Gold Rush,” then moving to guitar for “Heart of Gold,” “Old Man” and “Long May You Run.”
Closing the acoustic set on pipe organ, “Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)” ended the “greatest hits” portion of the program and set the theme for the show.
After guys in hazmat suits sprayed the stage — there’s always some kind of theatrics in a Young show — Promise of the Real joined him for a gently rocking “Hold Back The Tears,” beginning the folk-rock portion of the program.
That eight-song stretch, highlighted by “From Hank to Hendrix” and the country hop of “Field of Opportunity,” closed with a pair of moon songs — “Wolf Moon” and “Harvest Moon” — one of the rare hits in the second half of the show.
Then out came the electric guitar, a stretched out “Words (Between the Lines of Age,)” a few more older electric numbers, and hitting high gear with the bracing new songs.
The electric portion of the show lasted nearly two hours with Young hammering away on his guitar, trading riffs with the Nelsons as songs stretched and roared for five, maybe even 10 minutes.
It was also one of the arena’s very best shows, right up with Paul McCartney’s 2014 concert. That show was sold out. This one should have been.
Band of Horses opened with a solid 45-minute set of rock that fit well with Young’s approach. It was well received by the audience, most of whom had likely not heard of the South Carolina-based band.
Singer Ben Bridwell, who can sound like a young Young, noted they were playing their first show since the Confederate battle flag was taken down at their state Capitol.
Here’s a great review of the Red Rocks show from a fan. Enjoy….
It had been pouring rain all day long. The parking lot was red mud as we trudged up to the south entrance of the amphitheater. The woman at the gate told us that the show was barely half sold that evening. In the steady rain, we watched Band of Horses perform.
As Band of Horses closed out their set, the skies parted. A beautiful rainbow appeared in the eastern sky, and then, two women came out onto the stage. Tossing seeds and watering sunflowers, they seemed intent to let it grow. Only a distraction to me, and everyone else, as after a few minutes watching these two women, somebody had snuck out onto the stage behind the old upright. Our spiritual leader had arrived.
If Red Rocks was only half sold out that evening, someone might want to explain why as Neil started performing After the Goldrush the entire place was on their feet, clear up to the back row. The venue was packed to capacity.
Neil set out on a tremendous solo acoustic set, later to be joined by Willie’s kids and the Promise of the Real. There was something for everyone at these shows. From longstanding hits to songs pulled from the dustbins of history, nobody, and I mean nobody could have been disappointed by Neil’s performance Wednesday night.
When was the last time you heard Hold Back the Tears and Peace of Mind in one show? How about Bad Fog of Loneliness and Flying on the Ground is Wrong? For goodness sakes, even after better than a couple hundred Neil performances over the past 35 years, I was blown away. For the hardcore fan, Neil pulled out songs like Words (Between the Lines of Age), Don’t Be Denied (1st song of the encore Wednesday evening) and Double E (2nd song of the encore Wednesday evening).
The Monsanto Years was certainly heavily promoted in the show, as those of us who know Neil would anticipate. We weren’t there to see him perform Heart of Gold or Old Man (although he did!). We were there for the obscure and the new. We got everything we bargained for, and then some. Wolf Moon is an absolutely beautiful song, and Neil pulled it off impeccably. While the new album is focused on corporate farming practices, this is nothing new coming from Neil. He has stayed the course over virtually his entire career. Just listen to After the Goldrush, Field of Opportunity, or Mother Earth as examples. This thread is nothing new to Neil, and we as his fans largely support it.
The setlist was incredible, spanning from the Buffalo Springfield to the present day. I for one was stunned at the number of Stray Gators songs Neil performed, considering that all members of the Stray Gators have sadly passed away. There is no replacing the soul of the Stray Gators, Ben Keith, but Lukas & Micah Nelson sure tried on slide guitar and using a bow on the guitar. Also surprising was the number of Crazy Horse songs performed. With only one exception, they all came off incredibly well. That exception was Cowgirl in the Sand. It just seemed like the band didn’t have the sound balanced properly during the jams in between verses. Perhaps that was just my perception. But White Line, Love & Only Love, and Double E came off just great. In any event, seeing Neil do Cowgirl in the Sand cannot be easily discounted. It WAS fantastic, thank you Neil!
After nearly 3 hours, the show ended with Don’t Be Denied followed by Double E. If there was anyone disappointed with this show, perhaps they should consider never leaving their house again, as it’s been a long time since I have seen a Neil performance this moving and energized.
The second night was equally exciting. This time however, the weather decided to be a bit less cooperative. While the day was gorgeous, Neil’s performance was rained on. Actually, it poured. And candidly, it didn’t matter. Thursday evening was packed to the rafters. Fortunately, the real fans knew to bring their rain gear, and we needed it. Neil came out of the box a little rough on his vocals with After the Goldrush, but he quickly gained his composure. His set while shorter than Wednesday evening, had some incredible highlights. As Neil broke into Winterlong, the emotions of the second day were overwhelming. It is a song that is so moving and personal that I felt as if he performed it in my honor. I have lived the storyline of Winterlong, and it is painful. It was a great version, very moving, and just phenomenal.
Again, hearing Words performed was just unbelievable, not to mention one of the best Down by the River’s I have heard in years, possibly decades. Neil didn’t do Cowgirl the 2nd night, but the Down By The River had 10,000 plus people in the pouring rain cheering as he pulled off one of the most incredible solos I have ever heard him do. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere was late in the show, which is odd as he often performs that song early in the performance when I have heard it on prior occasions. The encore Thursday night wasn’t a real barn burner, but we had almost 2 1/2 hours of Neil, non-stop in the pouring rain with lightning illuminating the night sky around Red Rocks. No complaints whatsoever.
“Well all you critics sit alone…” I read a review by a fellow named Matt Miller. He must have been at a different Red Rocks this week and seen a different Neil Young. When 10,000+ people are on their feet getting pelted by heavy rain, cheering at the top of their lungs during virtually the entire show, sorry Matt, but I’d say you might reconsider your statement “…the fans lost interest from the long concert and the new, preachy songs toward the end from the new album.” Judging from what I saw, nothing could be further from the truth.
Consider the following – there are 12 shows on this tour, 2 were at Red Rocks, and nobody walked away disappointed. A woman next to me Thursday night broke down into tears. It was her very first Neil show, she flew to Denver from Sausalito, and she couldn’t believe how good he was. Sadly, she didn’t bring her rain gear – typical Bay Area concert goer. There were fans in attendance from coast to coast. I met people from the midwest, the east coast, the west coast, and points in between. The real Neil fans knew this was going to be a special week at Red Rocks, and Neil let nobody down.
For those of us musicians, Neil used the old upright (you know the old beat up upright), the foot pump pipe organ, the old Martin D-28, the White Gretsch, and Old Black. I don’t recall him using any other guitars.
As for the Stray Gators portion of the show, it was great. The Stray Gators were one of the best bands Neil ever recorded and performed with in my opinion. We were fortunate that they came back together 20+ years ago for a stint. Let them all rest in peace.
With regards to the Crazy Horse songs, they were good. But Neil, this is to you personally – it’s time to let the Horse out of the barn. I have a hard time seeing Love & Only Love, White Line, Down By The River, Cowgirl in the Sand, and Everybody Knows This is Nowhere performed by some other band when Poncho, Ralph and perhaps Billy are ready, willing and able to rock n roll. There is no substitute for Crazy Horse, especially when the guys can pull it off.
Finally, for those concerned with Neil’s wrist, it was wrapped the 2nd night, but not the first night. Obviously it’s causing him some pain. Maybe that’s why the 2nd show was a bit shorter than Wednesday evening. Regardless, show me a musician who can captivate an audience for close to 3 hours, with no intermission, have them engaged and on their feet, cheering, singing, crying and totally into every word and note. The greatest singer/songwriter/musician we have ever seen is thankfully still with us, and he continues to bring us timeless music in a relevant manner. Nobody can do what Neil does, nobody ever will.