Neil Young Concert Review

Voters For Choice Benefit - January 14 & 15, 1995

Neil Young News

Voters For Choice Benefit - January 14 & 15, 1995
Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall,
Washington, D.C

Pearl Jam, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, L7, & Lisa Germano

by Thrasher

The news traveled quickly on New's Year Day that Pearl Jam would
be performing locally for 2 nights to benefit Voters For Choice
(V4C). A Political Action Committee, V4C supports Pro-Choice
candidates for elected office. The fact that Neil Young & Crazy
Horse were also performing was an afterthought that most local
radio stations didn't even bother to mention.

Because of PJ's antitrust lawsuit against the concert ticket
company TicketMaster, tickets were available only via a mail
lottery. Postcard entries had to be postmarked within the next
72 hours in order to be eligible. Given the holidays and a
change in postal rates, the timing couldn't have been more

Not about to take any chances on missing a local Neil/Horse gig,
we quickly prepared numerous postcards for entry. The ticket
lottery proved to be a well run method of getting tickets into
the hands of fans and preventing tickets from entering the
scalper's market.

Several days before the concerts, winners would be contacted by
telephone with further details. We waited anxiously by the phone
for our call. After a few false alarms, my wife Susan finally
received the call. It was pretty hard not to celebrate as she
took down the info.

We had won the right to purchase tickets for the first show on
Saturday and were elated. And after some extensive negotiations
on RUST@DEATH, I finally worked out a ticket trade for the 2nd
show as well. (Thank you again, LOCATOR and Jennie L.!!!)

On the morning of the first show we picked up our tickets and it
started to dawn on me just how historic the shows might turn out
to be. The streets around the Hall were closed and only those
with ticket confirmation numbers were allowed to approach the Box
Office. Folks were showing up from all over the East Coast for
the shows and scalpers were out in force offering considerable
sums for tickets. A local radio station had just auctioned a
pair of tickets for $3,500 and by show time there were very few -
if any - tickets being sold on the street - at any price.

Security for the shows was extraordinarily tight. Due to the
recent Boston clinic shootings, the organizers had every reason
to be concerned that some Anti-choice psycho-terrorist martyr
might try and cause trouble. Fortunately, there were no
disruptions. The shows were dedicated to Lee Ann Nichols and
Shannon Lowney who were murdered last December by an Anti-choice
zealot. Yes, Europe, it's hard to believe, but here in the U.S.
of A. the abortion issue is an extremely political and divisive

Saturday, January 14, 1995

When Susan handed me the tickets, I couldn't believe it. 8th row
center! Seeing Neil and the Horse, electric and in a small 3,500
seat venue was like a dream come true. Hell, I was just grateful
to get in given that over 175,000 postcards were received.

The show started promptly with Lisa Germano who has a lot of
potential. Next came L7 who just blitzed the place. L7, who
started Voters for Choice, clearly were deetermined to take no
prisoners. Typically described as an all female band, L7's act
had to be one of my more memorable performances.

Maybe it was the ticket ordeal that had everyone so sedated or
maybe it was the oppressive security or the unusual January heat,
but it finally took L7 launching into "Shit, Goddamn, Get Off
Your Fuckin Ass and Jam" before the crowd began to show signs of
life. L7 played a relentlessly brutal set which culminated in
lead singer Suzi Gardener diving into the drum kit while bassist
Jennifer Finch showed off her well tattooed torso.

So Neil was up next.


ARC-like Feedback Instrumental Jam
My Heart
Act of Love
Hey Hey My My
I Am A Child
Cortez the Killer
Western Hero
Change Your Mind
PJ Encore
Act of Love

Highlights were the opening instrumental, an extended jam of bits
and pieces of many of Neil's classic riffs like Cinnamon Girl, as
well as, a little Hendrix style tribute. Sort of an ARC-ish
Sleeps With Angels.

"My Heart" had the PJ fans dozing off in their seats. At least
the PJ fans were more respectful than the Bridge 94 shows which
were punctuated by constant screams of "Eddie" and "Pearl Jam".

"Act of Love", a new song, will be seen by many as Neil's
statement on the abortion issue. Lines such as :

"Have your baby, have your life",

"You said baby, I said maybe" and

"Don't wanna have your baby, don't wanna leave your baby"

capture the polarity of the dilemmas both women and men face on
the abortion issue.

Lines from AOL are eerily similar to the "Too late, too soon"
refrain from Sleeps with Angels. AOL seems to cover numerous
situations where struggles of life, death and freedom revolve
around the results of sex, i.e, the "Act of Love".

"Act of Love" concludes with:

"I know I said I'd help
  Here's my wallet
  Call me later"

Certainly, the act of love can lead to unintentional consequences
and difficult choices.

"Act of Love" is an unlikely candidate to become the "Ohio" of
the Pro-Choice movement. However, the difference between the
anti-Vietnam protest song "Ohio" and "Act of Love" is that "Ohio"
captured the rage of an angry young man while AOL reveals a more
reflective and mature perspective on the volatile issues of the

Some have observed that Neil sent a mixed message on the abortion
issue. Songs such as "I Am A Child", "Cortez the Killer", and
"Hey Hey My My" can certainly be viewed as life affirming
tributes. But, as always with Neil, it's not really as simple as
Pro-Choice or Anti-Choice. Can one be in favor of the freedom to
choose what is best for the mother, father, and child while also
be anti-abortion? (See Neil interview comments on "Act of Love")

But the real highlight for me was Change Your Mind. Crazy Horse
electric really brings the song alive with grungy, simmering
intensity. Crunching and stomping, Neil and the Horse sounded
tight and played for keeps. Lasting about 15 minutes, the V4C
version was shorter than the recent Bridge performances and less
spontaneous. Nevertheless, Change Your Mind has the potential to
be another Down By The River/Cortez the Killer/Like A Hurricane
guitar epic.

While a terrific and enjoyable performance experienced from the
8th row, it is extremely difficult for me to fault the set. From
the event theme's perspective, the setlist was a home run in
terms of relevancy and poignancy. In retrospect, however, Neil's
set list selection was - musically speaking - clearly a mistake.

First, this was a PJ crowd - without a doubt. Second, after L7's
rip your lungs out performance, it would be very hard for anyone
to follow. My sense is that the crowd was polite yet numb. Neil
changed instruments between every song and took his usual time in
tuning up between them. I think this caused a great deal of
restlessness in the crowd. Mercifully, the PJ fans showed some
respect and didn't head for the exits or yell "Eddie"

Playing a delicate song like "My Heart" on piano before this
crowd was asking for trouble. Playing new and/or unfamiliar
songs is great for us Neil fans but I think it left many
bewildered and underwhelmed.

The PJ set was what folks came for and it was a lot of fun. PJ
played several songs from Vitalogy. Highlights were "Not For
You" , "rearview mirror" and "Daughter". "Daughter" featured the
new lines:

"My body's nobody's body but mine."

Neil returned for the PJ encore and played "Act of Love" again.
OK by me. But why? some asked. It's not like Neil has never
played a song twice at a show. There's plenty of precedent with
the "Tonight's The Night", "Hey Hey My MY" and "Keep on Rocking in the Free World" (lyrics analysis) which have
opened acoustic and closed electric on many a show.

Sure Neil could have concluded theevening with Piece of Crap with
PJ. But the message of the night was about making choices and
Act of Love says more on the issue in 8 minutes than most of
those on either side of the abortion ever will.

Neil really seemed to enjoy himself playing with PJ - more so
than with CH it seemed. Neil didn't say much to the crowd. He
seemed to come alive with Eddie Vedder onstage for AOL #2. My
sense is that Neil and Eddie Vedder are some kind of soulmates.
They seem to relate to each other very well and have a deep
mutual respect.

So what would the 2nd night have in store?

Sunday, January 15, 1995

With ears still ringing, I was finding it hard to believe that I
was about to see Neil, Crazy Horse and Pearl Jam play for the
fourth time in as many months. LOCATOR, up from North Carolina,
and I set out to pick up Jennie L., in from Boston, to take her
to pickup her tix.

When we arrived at the arena on a very rainy Sunday morning, the
place looked like a very tiny Woodstock scene. Huddled under
plastic tarps, garbage bags, and cardboard, fans had lined up at
dawn in hopes of scoring a no show ticket. A somewhat desperate
scene, folks were in good spirits nonetheless.

That evening we arrived at the Hall 2 hours before show time. We
had run into Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina at the hotel
earlier and were hoping to catch some other Neil characters.
Ralph said that Neil canceled the soundcheck that afternoon.
This was our next clue that something had clearly gone awry the
night before.

After an extensive screening with metal detectors, we were
admitted to the Hall when the doors opened. Shortly after
entering, I ran into Elliott Roberts, Neil's manager. We chatted
for a few moments while I explained to Elliott the RUST@DEATH t-
shirt I was sporting. He seemed amused. Not sure if it really
registered on him though. He did comment on the NYAS badge.
Anyway, we discussed the previous night's performance briefly
and Elliott said Neil's set would be much better tonight.

Roberts also confirmed that Neil & the Horse will
***definitely*** headline the Lollapalooza tour this summer.
Skipping ahead to the L7 set. L7 played a shorter set with a
completely different vibe. While the previous night was sheer
delirium and intensity, Sunday was playful and fun in comparison.
Reaching a peak of absurdity, MTV's Beavis & Butthead characters
arrived on stage, only to be decapitated and destroyed by L7.
The set concluded with bodies literally being dragged offstage.
Just another bizarre Neil show?!

So up comes Neil. House lights down. Out walks Neil and the
Horse, who proceed to play for 40 blistering minutes with hardly
a second of a break between songs. No endless tuning. No
chatter to the audience. No extended feedback intros and outros.
No acoustic. While a piano was brought on stage, Neil never even
approached it. There was no slowing the pace. It was just solid
electric Horse.


ARC-like Feedback Instrumental Jam
Fuckin Up
Act of Love
Down By The River
Sleeps With Angels
Hey Hey My My

Once again, not to quibble too much here, but I understand
completely why Neil would choose to play Down By The River
and Powderfinger after the less than enthusiastic reception the
previous night. Here was a man who had just been inducted into
the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame two nights previously and had failed
to arouse the crowd. Neil and the Horse had come back to redeem

Neil would not make the same mistake twice in a row. While we've
heard DBTR, Hey Hey My My & Powderfinger in concert many times
before, it was a safe choice for a crowd of Neil neophytes and
novices. (Sorry, no offense PJ fans). The set list did the job
and got the crowd going. By the time Hey Hey My My came, Neil
was hitting stride. Unfortunately, Neil's guitar string
shredding finale during HHMM concluded the set.

Once again, the new song Act of Love was a real highlight.
Fuckin Up was also fun. Sleeps With Angels was also a nice touch
coupled with Hey Hey My My similar to the Bridge VIII shows.

Safe song choices, a short set, but satisfying nonetheless. It
was nice to see Neil play 2 nights back to back with nearly
totally different set lists. Quite unusual.

Then PJ came out and played a terrific 20 song, 2 hour set. It's
not very hard to see why PJ is the top band in rock at the
moment. PJ's live presence is positively overwhelming and
completely converting. The evening's grand finale was Rockin In
The Free World. Only thing was that Neil wasn't there except in
spirit. L7 joined in and it seemed that everyone was really
having a good time performing RitFW, dancing about and posing for
pictures as the concert wrapped up at 1:30 a.m.

So. The first show was one to hear for Neil fans and the second
show was the one for PJ fans. I found a lot of respect for PJ at
the Bridge shows for their music and what Eddie Vedder is all
about. You have to admire their taking a tough stand on
TicketMaster and abortion. At this stage in PJ's career, those
are the sorts of decisions that can often have serious
repercussions in the music industry.

Neil playing at PJ's benefit was his way of saying thanks to
Eddie for playing at his Bridge shows. And it's obvious that
Eddie Vedder deeply admires Neil. And Neil has taken Eddie under
his wing and wants to make sure that Eddie doesn't become another
Kurt Cobain.

I think we will see much more of Neil & PJ together in the
future. Neil and Eddie are kindred spirits, cut from the same
cloth. At the end of Saturday's show, Neil playfully chased
Eddie off the stage while spraying him with a bottle of water.
They both seemed to be really enjoying joking around. In a
historic sort of way, the shows were a tour of Neil's rich
musical past and present and a glimpse at the future of rock in
Pearl Jam.

by Thrasher

"Act of Love"

From MOJO Magazine interview:

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