ufoIt’s that time of the week again when RUSHONROCK‘s resident classic rock columnist offers his unique view on the genre he loves.

And this week Self Made Man talks Neil Young – while his colleagues get down and dirty in the Download mud.

Read Self Made Man exclusively right here every week. 

 

Imagine The Eagles playing a concert and not including Hotel California, One Of These Nights or Take It Easy on the setlist.

Glenn Frey certainly couldn’t. During the fascinating two-part documentary History of The Eagles, recently aired on BBC Two, he explained just why the band felt it important to play its greatest hits at every show.

His views would have been particularly interesting to those who’ve been attending Neil Young gigs during his on-going Alchemy tour.

Playing a “greatest hits” show appears to be an anathema to the Canadian who seems to take sadistic pleasure in giving his audience a leftfield list of songs.

It’s certainly not crowdpleasing in the truest sense of the word but perversely that’s exactly why so many of fans love the man’s music.

Neil Young takes a crowd to the edge. The Eagles play it safe. Two legends of rock, two very different attitudes.

I make no apologies for writing another blog on setlists because Young’s setlists at Newcastle’s Metro Arena on Monday night and at subsequent concerts in Birmingham and Glasgow, have dominated message boards.

No After The Gold Rush, no Like A Hurricane and while Heart Of Gold is played on alternative nights, those at his first UK gig, were treated to Comes A Time instead of his most famous piece of work.

Personally, I had no complaints about that and as I wrote in my review for this website, thoroughly enjoyed the night.

I’ve now seen Young twice in four years and while I have still to hear him sing any of the aforementioned trio live (and resign myself to the fact I probably never will), the show I saw in Dublin in 2009 was very different from the latest one.

He was without Crazy Horse on that tour and so inevitably, there was less emphasis on feedback, distortion and noise.

Instead, we were treated to Down By The River, Words, and Every Knows This Is Nowhere from his early albums plus Harvest Moon. And typically, there were a few “leftfielders” thrown in just to keep us all on our toes, such as Burned, from his Buffalo Springfield days.

I’d imagine a fair proportion of Monday night’s crowd would have preferred a setlist including those melodic offerings to the aural bleeding of Walk Like A Giant and F**kin’ Up.

Given a choice, which would you prefer: a set including old favourites delivered poorly or a less mainstream pick performed to perfection?

Young gave us the latter and I for one was certainly not complaining at the standard of musicianship, the tautness of Crazy Horse and the incredible sounds the Canadian somehow squeezes out of Old Black, his trusty Les Paul.

The 69-year-old has earned the right to play whatever he wants and has no need to justify his choice of songs but if he did, I’ve no doubt he’d say that by constantly changing, he keeps things fresh, edgy and exciting.

Frey, however, took the opposite view when talking about The Eagles setlist during the best music documentary I have seen this year.

He says that  Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B Schmidt and himself can’t allow themselves to become bored or stale at playing the same songs every show because for many in their audience, it may be the first and last time they hear the classics.

Considering Young had not played Newcastle since 1973, that’s an argument which will strike a very loud chord with many of those present on Monday night.

Ian Murtagh