Last Saturday afternoon we got a call from our friend Brooke (http://www.ricebowls.org/). Her husband Mike (http://macmystery.wordpress.com/) ended up with a couple of extra tickets and offered them to us. Talk about good friends....these guys are amazing. Please take a few moments to make a donation to Rice Bowls and send an email or twelve to the Spartanburg Herald Journal to tell the bosses there how great their sports writer Mike McCombs is and how much you enjoy reading his work.
My cousin Jeff loved Neil Young back in the day and my wife offered to let him take her place while she stayed home with the kids. Jeff's one of my favorite people on the planet and after a nice little dinner outing with Brooke and Mike I met Jeff for the show.
There was an odd assortment of people and personalities at this concert. There were an overwhelming number of older men with long, graying hair pulled back in ponytails and a surprising number of young, hipster looking folks. There were the super-yuppies and frat guys mixed in with the empty nesting moms and a few club scene girls. Seeing people of so many apparent differences nod their head in unison and sing songs together was a testament of the wide ranging appeal of Young's music.
Photo by Mike Bonner/Spartanburg Herald Journal
And the music was just about perfect. The sound was amazing, allowing us to hear each hammer-on and finger slide clearly from our seats on the outskirts of town. As this was a solo show I didn't really know what to expect, but there was a very well balanced mix of acoustic, electric, and piano music....of course with lots of harmonica mixed in. The loud songs were very loud and Mr. Young, clad in a Pearl Jam t-shirt played with an energy that surely would have left any grunge band feeling envious. Still the quiet songs were delicate and lovely and the crowd was respectful during most of the songs.
Of course, this is Spartanburg, so there were plenty of screams and shouts between songs. One fellow insisted on shouting a lot and somehow managed to punctuate each phrase with "brother". Another unfortunate soul decided to shout his request for "Freebird" as Young made his way from one instrument to another. Given the history between Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young it's hard to tell if this guy was unforgivably oblivious or if he was attempting to be ironic. Like a champ, Mr. Young smiled and raised his fist in the air in salute drawing cheers from the very packed seats. Well played, Mr. Young. I believe here in the south we call that grace.
Setlist: My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue) /Tell Me Why / Helpless / You Never Call / Peaceful Valley / Love And War / Down By The River / Hitchhiker / Ohio / Sign Of Love / Leia / After The Gold Rush / I Believe In You / Rumblin’ / Cortez The Killer / Cinnamon Girl // Heart Of Gold / Old Man / Walk With Me