Neil Young, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, OR – 7/19
Neil Young’s Twisted Road Solo Tour rolled into the ornate Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon. The hall proved to be the perfect venue for Mr. Young’s solo performance. Normally used for symphonies and operas, the sound was crystal clear spot on, whether it be the strum of an acoustic guitar or the feedback of “Old Black,” his vintage Gibson Les Paul. I was a little concerned when I saw Neil was only doing eighteen songs on the Twisted Road Tour set lists (Paul McCartney’s doing thirty-eight on his summer tour!), but in retrospect this was just right for the solo format.
Young’s warm living roomesque stage set (floor lamps, a cigar store wooden Indian off to the side) blended in perfectly with the Schnitzer’s ornate decor giving the show a homey, warm feel. Two pianos, a pipe organ, and many guitars allowed Young to invite us in and catch us up on where he is in his career.
The concert was a combination of Young’s classics and new/newer music. The sold out devoted audience ate up the classics (“Cinnamon Girl,” “Ohio,” “Down By the River”) and were very receptive to the new tunes (“Walk With Me,” “Sign of Love”). Young didn’t chat with the audience much. He let his guitars do the talking and they had plenty to say on their own.
Young started out acoustically with three classics: “My My Hey Hey (Out of the Blue),” “Tell Me Why” and “Helpless.” This was followed by two new songs: “You Never Call” and “Peaceful Valley.” The first three were very powerful (even in the solo setting) and the new a bit less so. Then he brought the audience back with electric versions of “Down By the River” and “Ohio.” It was odd (not in a bad way) seeing him play Old Black without a rhythm section. The new songs (“Sign of Love,” “Walk with Me”) had a lot more life presented electrically. He also took a break from the electric by playing a song each on the piano and the pipe organ: an one old (“After the Gold Rush”) and a one new (“Leia”). Finally he power chorded his way out the door with the ultimate Neil Young rockers, “Cortez the Killer” and “Cinnamon Girl, “ followed by the encores of “Old Man” and “Walk with Me.”
The set list was a wonderful combination of the old and the new, the acoustic and the electric. The Ying and Yang of Neil Young.