photo by Robert Clark Young
Neil Young News
NEIL YOUNG IN SACRAMENTO
Concert Review by Robert Clark Young
The Busses are HERE !!!
Neil and I exchanged greetings in the lobby!!!
Ralph Molina Drumsticks--I HAVE ONE!!!
I scored an interview with Nancy Hall!!!
About the Fest; thanks for that NeilStack!
Front Row Dead Center: The Physical Scene
A FrontRow Portrait of Billy Talbot
Neil Young: Up-Close from the FrontRow
Neil Young in My FrontRow Living Room!
FrontRow: Be the Pain
FrontRow: Encores for the Hardcore
FrontRow Sac: The Final Encore
Sacramento: What an Experience!
Setlist - Sacramento
Subject: The Busses are HERE !!!
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 3:51 pm
Drove over to the venue a couple of hours ago, drove around back and parked right next to three of the Greendale busses--there were no Lionel trucks yet--got out and saw that one of the large loading doors to the auditorium was open--walked right up to it and saw--
MY FANTASTIC FRONT-ROW DEAD-CENTER SEATS, JUST A FEW FEET IN FRONT OF ME ACROSS THE STAGE!!
It's an old theater and the large loading doors in back open right onto the sidewalk--the stage is right THERE--I could've climbed right onto it.
Then I went walking a few blocks to the large hotels downtown, saw MORE of Neil's busses, and then, right in front of a hotel whose name I won't give here, NEIL'S VERY OWN BUS!!! Neil and the Greendalians have the top four floors of the hotel, including the penthouse at the tip-top.
NEIL YOUNG IS IN MY TOWN !!! He's gonna break bread in Sacramento tonight, and then sleep among Sacramentans!
Then I went walking back to my car, near the venue. By now the first of the Lionel trucks had just arrived--the driver was setting down the big metal legs.
Now it's only
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:07 pm
Subject: Neil and I exchanged greetings in the lobby!!!
UH... uh... uh... okay...
So I went back over to the hotel and parked directly across the street from Neil's bus, aligning my wheels exactly as Neil's wheels were aligned. Then I got out and fought the urge to genuflect in front of the ZUMA license plate. I went into the hotel and I was hanging out in the bar to see if any of the Greendalians would come down and accept my offer of a drink and a Broken Arrow interview. I waited around a while and didn't see anybody I recognized, and nobody approached me, so I left the bar and went into the lobby to sit on this little couch right in front of the elevators. I sat there a long while.
And waited. And waited. And waited. And waited.
Then Pegi went walking past me--she didn't come out of the elevators, but from somewhere else, to my right--she came out and she was humming and she looked at me briefly and she went outside and I looked out there and this big black SUV had arrived. The back of the SUV opened and out jumped Neil Young's DOG!
How can I describe this dog? Those of you who have seen it know that it is beyond description. Big beautiful golden good-tempered dog with flowing mustachios--looks kinda like a young Larry Craig.
Anyway, she takes the dog on its leash across the street, right past my parked car--I'm thinking, "What an honor it would be if Neil Young's dog took a pee on my car tire!" No such luck. She took the dog across the street into the park and stayed there with it for a while.
I walked up to the SUV and looked at it and saw that it was from a limo service. Figures that Neil's Dog rides in style. For the first time in my life I wanted to be a dog--a particular dog--as opposed to just living like a dog. It's a dog's life, as they say. The limo guy was unloading a bunch of Neil Dog traveling stuff, including what looked like some kinda Neil Dog Teepee Skin? For Neil's Dog to sleep on?
Then she came back across the street with the dog and I hurried back into the lobby and sat on the little couch in front of the elevators again. I don't like to intrude upon people's private moments with their dogs. She came in with the dog and a bellboy who was pulling the cart full of Neil Dog Stuff. They all waited a moment for an elevator, and the bellboy said, "He looks like a good guard dog."
She said, "He's an excellent guard dog."
Then they got into the elevator and went up to the penthouse suite, where only the most favored of the world's dogs have their bowls of water.
All right. So I sat there waiting some more. And some more. And some more. It was now an hour and a half since I'd left my house.
I got so tired of waiting around that I started slumping on the couch. I was, like, way way slumped, with my legs crossed and sticking way out. There was nobody else in the lobby at this point.
Then this blond girl walked by quickly, and I only saw her from the, uh, back, and I thought it was probably Sun Green, but I wasn't sure. She went into the bar.
All right. So I sat there waiting some more. And some more. And some more. It was now two hours since I'd left my house.
I'm sitting there all slumped, my legs sticking way out, and I'm thinking I should go home, as my Broken Arrow interview with Neil's Dog was a total bust. Then my thoughts wandered again.
Neil Young walked into the lobby and looked directly at me.
Everything I'm going to describe next happened in a matter of seconds.
Neil Young had walked into the lobby and looked directly at me. He was wearing that same leather-looking Dr. Seuss hat he was wearing at the Greendale movie in New York, and the same leather CSNY jacket.
I sat there completely slumped and completely STUMPED.
I nodded hello and mouthed the word "Hi" and
HE DID THE SAME BACK TO ME !!!
It was like he recognized me, or at least recognized that I recognized him--I dunno--it happened so fast--it was very natural, and weird only for being so natural.
Then He walked over toward the elevators, and believe me, my heart has never done 0 to 60 faster in my life. I had the Greendale booklet from the CD and my pen in my pocket and I thought I'd try for an autograph and so I started fumbling for these items in my jacket pocket as though I were in yet another Neil Dream--except it was real!!
I was about to get up off the couch--BUT--
Two younger longhaired guys came into the lobby with Ben Young. These were obviously the people Neil was waiting for. So I didn't get off the couch--I don't want to disturb Neil when he's with Ben.
The little group went over to wait by the elevators, right in front of me, and Neil said to them "So what do you guys want to do now?"
Neil was standing facing me, and I thought, *You are the oddest looking person in Sacramento, Neil*. That weird-ass hat and that jacket--I got the definite impression that Neil had not changed his clothes since the Greendale movie in New York. I mean, he's probably changed and showered and everything, but, uh, it's not the impression he gives...
Otherwise, He was just being a dad. It was a family moment, so I was really glad I hadn't intruded upon it.
Then they wheeled Ben into the elevator and went up.
Then that blond came out of the bar and it turned out it WAS Sun Green! She had all of her blond hair tucked down the back of a sweatshirt she was wearing. She was carrying a bottle of water. She took the next elevator up.
Date: Mon Feb 23, 2004 4:59 pm
Subject: Hotel Autographs!!!
All right dunno if I can type fast enough. Meleya and I and Molly and Don went over to the hotel about four hours ago. Pegi and Zeke and Ben were in the bar talking. Then Pegi said she wanted to get some soup and went up stairs to the penthouse to eat it. So we hung around some more.
We were watching from the mezzanine, then went down to wait in the lobby after Zeke and Ben went upstairs after Zeke ordered a buncha munchies at the bar.
Sun Green came downstairs looking beautiful as usual, waited outside a bit, then went back upstairs.
After a while Ralph Molina came down and Meleya and I got our Greendale CD booklets autographed. Very nice, guy, much smaller in person, wearing a Greendale High School Demons letterman's jacket. He has very blue eyes and was very gracious. I wished him a good show and he thanked me.
Poncho came down next but he was too fast for us--went directly to Neil's bus with Ralph.
Then Pegi came down all dolled-up in her big hat, with Neil's Dog--his name is Bear, right? The lobby workers had been talking about the dogs in the hotel earlier, debating which one belonged to "Neil Young's wife."
I'm late for the fest folks--Floyd POC has left three angry messages so far--so I'm typing quickly--I'm hoping he will understand that I'm late to the fest because--
The elevator doors opened--
All we saw was a hand holding it opened--
Mr. Neil Young stepped out of the elevator, wearing the CSNY leather jacket, but not the dorky hat, cause I guess he read my post about it. Pegi had smiled at us, but Neil ignored us, walking very quickly, drinking from a big water bottle. Meleya was sitting next to me and she exploded into tiny fragments. Just kidding. Practically though. Neil was standing outside then and we could see him through the glass with his ENORMOUS bald spot surrounded by gray hair.
Sun Green was wandering all over the place by this point but we had, believe it or not, lost total interest in her.
Neil got on his bus.
Then Twink Brewer--Grandma Green--came downstairs and sat down. Meleya and I went over to get her autograph. She asked,
"How do you know that I'm anybody?"
I said, "Because we've seen the show."
"Where did you see it?"
Meleya and I then started rattling off--Concord, White River, San Diego, Phoenix, Shoreline, etc etc etc.
She signed my Greendale booklet thus:
"You're always welcome at Greendale! Grandma Green."
How COOL is that, huh? I mean, how cool is that? I shoulda been down at the fest but instead I was getting my engraved perpetual invitation to Greendale!
The busses were leaving and we never did see Billy.
I'm leaving a lot out. These were just the high points. I gotta go to the fest. Floyd has called three times. Even the bar manager has called and left a message, because I said 20 people and so far it's just Floyd--okay--heading over there--
Date: Tue Feb 24, 2004 12:57 am
Subject: Ralph Molina Drumsticks--I HAVE ONE!!!
I am going to be posting a lot about this show, which was amazing in every way from front-row dead center. But first I want to post about my new possession.
An official Ralph Molina DRUMSTICK!!!
NB and I had gotten her friend Angela a front-row ticket off e-Bay--it wasn't as good as ours, but front-row is, uh, pretty darned good. Angela is a cute blond coming off a bad divorce. She blew kisses at Ralphie all night long!!
At the very end of the show, right after RIFW, Ralph went over to her and handed her both sticks. She then let me have one for getting her into the front row.
I have this drumstick with me right now. It is signed by Ralph Molina, and then has his name, and then NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE. It is an extremely cool holy relic. Ralph played RITFW with this stick!!!
Also, the autograph imprinted on the stick matches *perfectly* with the autograph Ralph had given me a few hours earlier on my Greendale CD booklet in the hotel lobby.
Here is some stuff I am typing with this stick: kjfghjdjghjhdueywyeedkdhdtancmcj.
Date: Tue Feb 24, 2004 1:17 am
Subject: I scored an interview with Nancy Hall!!!
I was not planning on this happening, but I scored a surprise, last-minute interview with Mountainette Nancy Hall at 5:30 pm. She only had half an hour because she had to go eat with Neil at 6:00 pm.
Actually, I owe this to NB's friend Angela as well. I was *finally* ready to go over to the fest, after having spent so much time at the hotel. My girlfriend was literally out on the front porch waiting for me when my phone rang. If Angela had been on time getting to our house, I would have left the house and missed the call.
But it was Nancy Hall! It totally blew my mind. I had gotten a message to her a few days earlier, and when I hadn't heard anything from her over the weekend, I figured I wasn't going to hear anything. But here she was on the phone with me and offering me an opportunity for an interview!
So I dashed right over to the Zen Toro Japanese restaurant, right across the street from the venue. (Thus, I would be even *more* late for the fest--but what could I do when I was getting all these super-cool interactions with the various Greendale players??)
I am not going to post the interview here, as Broken Arrow is the proper venue. I have five pages of notes and will be writing them up soon. If you don't already subscribe to Broken Arrow, you must do so immediately:
I will say here and for the record, however, that Neil Young is extremely fortunate to have somebody as intelligent, as talented, as politically aware and active, and as nice as Nancy Hall involved in the Greendale project. It was truly an honor to sit and speak with this great lady for half an hour before the show!
Everybody here should check out the CD "Everybody Knows You," by Nancy's band The Curios. Information is here:
After the interview, I walked Nancy back across the street to the venue. Who do I run into??
BILLY TALBOT!! Man, *nobody* in the whole wide world has a face like that guy. I said hello to him but he was walking quickly toward one of the busses and had no time for li'l ole me. Still, it was pretty cool that I got to see all FOUR members of Crazy Horse in the hours just BEFORE the show!! That had never happened to me before.
The past two days have been 48 of the most amazing hours of my life. I can't believe how many cool, great people I met from the show, and I am honored that they came to my town. Greendale is a tremendous and great project, one of Neil's all-time best. It's just getting better and better, tighter and tighter.
And I saw tonight's show from front-row dead-center! Neil fed off my energy and played for me. He and Poncho got a kick out of me, and so did the Mountainettes. They are probably still talking about me on the bus. After the song Sun Green, I said to heck with convention, and I became a front-row wildman!!
But I'll be talking--and posting--about these fine people for a lot longer than they'll ever remember me, I'm sure.
I'll be posting soon about this incredible show. I took notes until I couldn't hold my hands still anymore! This was a very special show for me because of my pre-show and at-show interactions with the players. I don't know if I'll ever have a Neil concert as special as this one was. It will live forever in my heart.
Date: Tue Feb 24, 2004 1:37 am
Subject: About the Fest; thanks for that NeilStack!
This is a public thank you to David Popp for just coming up to me at the fest and *giving* me a stack of 24 Neil shows!! Dating from 1974 to the present... Man, it was one of the greatest gifts of all time. Everybody was like, "He just GAVE you those??"
I really made out tonight, in so many incredible ways. And yes, before anyone points it out, I realize that I don't deserve it. Then again, I can't think of too many who do. Maybe if Mother Teresa liked to shake it to HHMM.
So, the upshot is, I finally did make it to the fest and it was packed. Everybody there was great to NB and to me. It was fun to meet new people, and to see old friends as well. NB accused me of "holding court"--hardly--I was just waiting at a table for AN HOUR AND A HALF to get a burger! Finally a waitress brought one and set it down at the wrong end of the table where it sat for a while as manic Neil conversations raged all around.
I hadn't eaten all day and it had been a, uh, pretty exciting day for me--and I still had a front-row show to look forward to....
Floyd POC said an interesting thing to me at the venue--he was in the second row--he said "The Rust List isn't real. THIS is real." All of the people on the list are real to me, though, and they get even more real in person. I have been to quite a few fests now in different cities, and there is nothing like attending one. They're always special and great. If you haven't yet, I encourage you to go out and find one the next time, uh, Neil Young comes to your li'l ole town.
Now when do I have time to post all about this show, write two articles for Broken Arrow, listen to 24 more Neil shows that just came into my possession, and work on my new book?? How is this humanly possible?
But the real question is how *Neil Young* is able to perform AGAIN in LA less than 24 hours from now, after riding on a bus all night, when I feel like I won't be able even to WALK again until a few weeks go by. I can't even hear the keystrokes as I'm typing this stuff. I am in bad, bad shape folks. I can't feel my knees.
Date: Tue Feb 24, 2004 10:56 am
Subject: Front Row Dead Center: The Physical Scene
I still can't hear and can't walk very well, so I guess I'll just sit here at the keyboard typing in meditative silence. Though I do wish somebody would turn off that car alarm in the living room. No, wait...
I did make a few notes last night in the, uh, front row, but mostly I was just swept along by the experience. Despite the fact that we got--what is it--a record-tying ten encore songs--the concert went by very, very fast from the front-row--it was seamless, without boundaries of space or time.
Outside of a hotel lobby, I have never been so close to Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Try to imagine the scene:
The lights go down, the packed theater erupts into a frenzy, the ambient haze and vegetable stench of marijuana rises immediately all about us, and the white light is upon the stage....
The seats--well, they were, uhm, outstanding. There was a short railing in front of us, with a long wooden step to stand on. The stage was right THERE, right next to the railing. That stage was there to be POUNDED on, and verily I did pound upon it with my fists at times throughout that show. That stage was there to be SLAPPED, and verily I did slap that stage with my palms to Ralph Molina's beat! That stage was there to support myself with one hand as my other hand rose into the air to fist and pump the air whenever, uh
lunged toward me with New Gold or Old Black...
My seat was just to the moviegoer left of Neil's mic stand--I was right in front of that space where Neil does the overwhelming majority of his solos-- There were times when the end of my fist and the old battered faded-in-places face of Old Black were no more than four or five feet apart as Neil stooped forward, over and over and over again, for an attack.
And all of this with people packed to either side of me, and thousands more packed behind me...
In my next post I'll give some general impressions of what it's like to make eye contact and interact with the four principals--I guess if it were a religion or a philosophical system it wouldn't be the four principals, but The Four Principles...
Anyway, this is what I have to say about my seat: IT WAS ****** GOOD.
An eternal thanks to the Immortal Rustie who got me these seats. The RustList rules, man.
Date: Tue Feb 24, 2004 12:27 pm
Subject: A FrontRow Portrait of Billy Talbot
BILLY TALBOT: He's Freddy Krueger. He's the Apple Man. He's Pumpkin Head. His face is like this: Somebody took a medium-sized squash when it was young, then pumped it full of nitrous oxide with a bicycle pump, and kept pumping and pumping until everything on the inside had exploded out into the cheeks and rippled there. His face looks like somebody took a buncha donuts the size of tires, then smashed them on top of each other with a sledgehammer. His mouth is the second-greatest scowl of all time (Neil's is the greatest). Billy's fingers are big encrusted aged sticks of hardened dough, suitable only for playing bass in the band called Crazy Horse.
Coming face to face with Billy, as I did on the sidewalk before the show, when I was escorting Nancy Hall back across the street, I could not believe that any human could have a face like Billy's. It's had a lot of Pillsbury dough piled onto it, then kneaded and streeeetched--his face hasn't hung downwards as he's aged--it's hung out SIDEWAYS.
On the stage, Billy's face is the same--it's the only Crazy Horse face that's the same on the stage as it is on the street. He scowls, he tries to smile and it's just a wider scowl.
Billy's bass is red. The paint has faded off the edges. Billy's shirt is red flannel. The paint has faded off the edges. Billy's hair is a wool pad that was once dark, but the paint has faded off the edges.
All together--face, hands, fingers, hair, bass--Billy Talbot is a still-functioning antique.
There is nothing else in the world that he could do but be the bass player in the band called Crazy Horse.
He is the heart and soul of Crazy Horse. Neil has said that Billy is the glue.
When you see Billy standing in the middle of the stage, his back to you, or standing slightly sideways so that only the people close-up can see his magnificent face--a face that is a literal monument to rock and roll, a face shaped and stretched by a million miles of music--you understand that there is no band called Crazy Horse without Billy Talbot.
Date: Tue Feb 24, 2004 2:54 pm
Subject: Neil Young: Up-Close from the FrontRow
From the opening note of FFA, It's All One Show. It was very fluid for me in the front row, no boundaries, all one song, all one show. I won't go into telling the whole Greendale story, which all of us know so well by now. Instead I'd like to give some more impressions from the Front Row...
This guy Neil Young. I'd like to talk about his face. I can attest, as I was just a few feet from Neil's Grimace, that Neil's Grimace is a genuine one. Neil had his cap on during FFA but I could see straight up into his grimacing face, and it is not just stage persona, because all of Neil's facial expressions have to do with the music he's playing.
He grimaces during instrumentals, often closes his eyes for the vocal. Well, you knew that.
But do you know what it's like to be sitting front-row dead-center, right in front of the spot just a little to the moviegoer left of Neil's mike, that Holy Spot where Neil does most of his solos? He first stepped into this spot last night during Double E--Neil Young was standing right in front of me, in profile, doing his crouching strut, that big ole grimace hanging on his lower face like a great dinosaur lip.
Neil really does look like a tall scowling dinosaur when he's strutting right in front of you with all the light on him and he's playing the hell out of his golden 1953 axe.
When Neil was done with Double E, some girl in the cheap seats, about two and a half miles behind me to my left, screamed out in the middle of Neil's narrative:
"I love you!"
Neil had been talking about Edith and Earl, but now he stopped and said to this girl. "That's nice. It's very disorienting, but it's nice."
This got a big laugh.
Neil likes being a raconteur. He really got into it this time, because we in the front row were laughing at all of his jokes, clapping at his political commentary, and listening to His Story. It was as though Neil Young were telling a story to his kids, and we were his kids, enraptured. When you give Neil Young The Storyteller all of the attention and positive feedback he needs, Greendale is transformed.
Neil became more and more animated during his narratives between the songs. I saw how serious Neil is about the Greendale material. This is a story that he wants and needs to tell us.
If you give him the opportunity to tell it, instead of just yelling out song requests, Neil tells the story in a very funny and engaging way.
He likes to elaborate, if you support him in it.
For example, when he was talking about Grandpa's breakfast, Neil started out by just talking about the muffins that Grandma makes, saying that they're kinda big and indescribable. This got a laugh from us, especially in the front row, so Neil started elaborating for us. He told us how this big ole mean-looking muffins are cooked in bacon grease! Mmmm, mmmm, mmmmm, cause that's the way Grandpa likes em.
This got a huge laugh all around.
Then Neil told us that Grandma makes them the way Grandpa likes them because that's what Love is. So, according to Neil Young, love is a big misshapen muffin fried in bacon fat.
Neil is a funny guy. As Joni Mitchell said to Elliot Roberts just before she introduced him to Neil, "You gotta meet Neil Young; he's the only guy who's funnier than you are."
I got the impression that Neil could talk all night if he wanted to, and if he got enough laughter and applause from the audience. It was all very dry and droll and sardonice. Great stuff! Neil Young standing right there in front of me telling stories.
But then he had some more music to play...
Go to Part #2
Neil Young's Greendale
Concert Reviews of Neil Young
Thrasher's Wheat - A Neil Young Archives