Tuesday, July 2, 2019


Oh Neil, the great contrarian. Here's where his difficult reputation was cemented, on tour following his breakthrough album Harvest, and the massive hit "Heart Of Gold." You can just imagine the shock all those new fans must have felt in 1973, when they left the concert hall after this show. It starts out nicely enough, Young doing acoustic versions of older material such as "After The Gold Rush" and the Harvest faves ("Old Man", "Out On The Weekend"). But then the ragtag ensemble known as the Stray Gators starts in on the hazy, haggard new songs Young had been writing, leading up to his Tonight's The Night period.

This tour has already been documented on the rather insane Times Fades Away live album, released back in the day to great confusion and disappointment from the casual fans. It then took on a mythic status, loved by the "Rusties," his most fervent followers, and its disappearance from his catalog during the CD era, finally earning reissue 30 years later. There's some repetition in cuts, but not many. This hour-long set includes much of the acoustic opener of this night in Tuscaloosa, and the latter half has different new electric numbers, including Tonight's The Night's "New Mama" and "Lookout Joe." Those "Heart Of Gold" fans must have been scratching their heads over lines such as "Remember Millie from down in Philly/She took my brain and forgot my name."

Young offers a reprieve midway through the new songs, as some familiar notes from the Harvest album ring out. Lo and behold, it's the caustic "Alabama," played for the home state crowd in Tuscaloosa. Chastising them with lines such as "See the old folks tied in white robes," and "You got the rest of the Union to help you along, what's going wrong?", Young puts his money where his mouth is. The message was clear then, and has remained so since, the Muse comes first at a Neil Young show, even before the audience.

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