Wednesday 13 December 2017

Tortured and cranky star Neil Young still has bite

Review: Neil Young at RDS

Neil Young live at the RDS showgrounds.
Neil Young live at the RDS showgrounds.

Ed Power RDS

HERITAGE rock's resident cranky old man Neil Young has never gone out of his way to endear himself to his audience.

Backed by long-time collaborators Crazy Horse, the grizzled warrior christened "Godfather of Grunge" in the 1990s lives up to his curmudgeonly billing with a show that lurches between lumpy new songs and a thin smattering of hits.

Seemingly determined to give casual devotees a crash course in sonic extremism, Young, inset, devotes a considerable chunk of the set to his rambling latest album, 'Psychedelic Pill', and unreleased material, laying down snowdrifts of riffs on the new LP's title track and outfitting 'Hole In The Sky' with a mid-tune instrumental that threatens to go on longer than a season of 'Game Of Thrones'. One extended period of noise provoked a slow hand clap and some booing from a section of the audience.

At 67, Young is no longer the firebrand who delighted in kicking sand in the eyes of his followers, and occasionally he relents and rewards the crowd with a smash. He stomps through the blistering 'Cinnamon Girl' and rips away the mothballs on 'Cortez The Killer' and 'Hey Hey My My (Into the Black)', the 1979 shrapnel blast credited with setting the template for indie rock and grunge.


The biggest surprise is the heartfelt tilt of Dylan's 'Blowin' In The Wind', which Young sings as if it is 1964 and peace, love and understanding are revolutionary concepts.

People are rendered speechless, perhaps by the fact that Young is playing something they recognise.

Furrow-browed and stooped, the singer goes about his job with considerable zeal, but does not exactly radiate arena headliner charisma.

This is a performer who makes Dylan look like Robbie Williams yanking his trousers down. There was a time when fans expected their rock icons to be difficult and tortured. Young is a survivor from that era, a living fossil who still retains his bite and, now and then, his mighty roar.

Irish Independent

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