Neil Young is a legend. I’ve also come to the conclusion that the man is as mad as a hatter.
Young is arguably the most prolific artist in the history of rock music though at times, an obsessive desire to release new material has played havoc with his own quality control.
At the last count, I owned 28 Neil Young albums, another ten in collaboration with Crazy Horse plus two from his early career with Buffalo Springfield.
At least 10 would comfortably squeeze into my top 100 all-time albums. On The Beach may even be a contender for the No. 1 spot.
But there’s a handful – Reactor springs to mind – which I rarely listen to.
And then there’s his 1980s work, during an ill-fated period with Geffen. Even the most committed NY fan steers clear of most of those albums.
Young, however, is a genius, up there with Bob Dylan as possibly the finest solo artist of the last 50 years.
He also happens to be right at the very top of my own personal popularity charts because he’s coming to Newcastle.
That’s right, NEIL YOUNG. ONE OF MY ALL-TIME HEROES, IS PLAYING AT THE ARENA NEXT YEAR.
He’s only playing four dates in the UK and one of them is right here in Newcastle. Get in there!
London, Glasgow, Birmingham and Newcastle. Not Manchester but Newcastle. Oh how my heart bleeds for my friends in the North West, who must travel a few miles if they want to see Young in the flesh.
Message boards have been full of moaning Mancunians, berating the decision to snub their city in favour of Newcastle. Well, all I can say is we know what they’re going through because usually it’s us who are left off a tour schedule.
Trust good old Neil to be the exception to the usual rules.
But then the Canadian, who will be touring with Crazy Horse for the first time since 2001, does make a habit of tearing up the given script and doing his own thing.
His latest music, the outstanding Psychedelic Pill, his first-ever double studio album and undoubtedly his finest release in at least 20 years, opens with a Driftin’ Back, which lasts for over 27 minutes.
And there are another two tracks stretching over 16 minutes.
On his current US tour, Young plays three or four songs from PP including Ramada Inn, a marathon effort so enchanting it might just convince me to choose the album as my best of 2012.
I’d be quite happy for Young to stick with the same set list in the UK but there are no guarantees.
His set lists can best be described as unpredictable though some would say they are bordering on the weird.
For example, despite such a vast catalogue of published material, in recent weeks he has recently been playing something called Singer Without A Song, which has never been released.
I last saw Young in Dublin three years ago and on that night, he resurrected Burned, a song from his Buffalo Springfield days which he’d last played live in the sixties.
And one of his encores was a cover of The Beatles classic Day In The Life – a great song but a strange choice for someone with hundreds of his own to choose from.
Quite frankly, I don’t care what he plays on June 10. All that matters is that Neil Young is coming to Newcastle.