Neil Young. Leeds O2 Arena. 10.6.2016.

We have been to the Arena before and been impressed with the design and organisation. Having recommended it to others, it is disappointing to have to start with a ‘negative’. Got there just after 7.00 pm, Laura Marling due on at 7.30.  We discovered our tickets had been ‘reassigned’ to another block so had to queue, again. So we ended up missing the start , and it was obvious many others did too. Not sold out, so move people into other seats which they hadn’t chosen? Then we got some old biddy on the end of our row (which we had to find in complete darkness) who said she wasn’t going to let us past!! Finally got seated and when Her Ladyship went out and back at the interval via the other direction, some other pillock moaned about her ‘coming late’!  So either we were put in a row of mentally disabled people who were without their carers or we were put among some old gits who were risking a short course of death.  And I won’t tell you where our seats were , but we had Zeus and Thor sitting behind us.*

Lights down, on time, and a couple of American hicks come out scattering some seeds (obviously not GM !).  The man comes on and opens with ‘After the Goldrush’ on the piano and harmonica. Zeus behind us knew when to cheer at the mention of ‘getting high’ and the altering of the lyrics to ’21st century’ (so it is not just our Transatlantic friends who do that!). Neil strapped on a 6-string acoustic for ‘Heart of gold’, ‘Comes a time’ and ‘Needle and the damage done’ then moved to the pump organ for ‘Mother Earth’.

Promise of the Real come out to join him, we hear him say ‘Hank’ to them and it is ‘ From Hank to Hendrix’. Set list? What set list! A wonderfully jaunty ‘Out on the weekend’ follows. ‘Unknown legend’ gets an airing, with a song next that I didn’t recognise (‘Wolf Moon’). Zeus and Thor behind us didn’t either, so they chatted all the way through. But, after all, they are immortals so boll*cks to the mere mortals around them who actually wanted to hear the man on stage.

It was time for the Gretsch White Falcon to come out, and things cranked up a bit for ‘Words’ and ‘Winterlong’.  Neil introduced the next song as one that they had never played, and we had never heard. Would I be nitpicking to suggest he put it back to bed? It was ‘fairly ordinary’, which of course would be ‘bloody good’ for anyone else. And it was from his first LP in 1968! ‘Walk on’ from ‘On the beach’ followed. I was never a fan of that LP, for me it was an ‘odds’n’sods’ affair,  although some think it a classic.

Just as I was thinking that there was a very slight lull, out came the sonic assassin that is ‘Black Top’. He strapped it on and launched into ‘Down by the river’. Things were now REALLY cranked up, and the end had the crowd on its feet. ‘Powderfinger’, ‘Cowgirl in the sand’, ‘Mansion on the hill’, ‘Love to burn’ and ‘Rockin’ in the free world’ brought back the memory of Crazy Horse, with the two Nelson boys taking no prisoners,  and they trooped off. They came back with the rarely played ‘When you dance I can really love’ and a final onslaught of ‘F**kin’ up’.

A really good performance, and very well paced.It was a long set packed with familiar songs.  I recognised most of the songs and I certainly don’t have everything he has done…I doubt if the man himself has! Mr Young was quite grumpy with some ‘advice’ from the audience when we last saw him ( see review from Newcastle exactly 3 years ago). He seemed happier this time, even saying incredulously ‘On this guitar?’ (the Gretsch) when somebody shouted for ‘Like a hurricane’.

Highly recommended.  Sorry about photos, we were sitting in a different post code to the stage.

*Apologies to those who are unfamiliar of the concept of ‘sitting in the gods’, ie miles in the air.4

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