Friday, December 11, 2009

Neil Young - Dreamin’ Man Live ‘92

A couple of years ago when Neil played at the Wells Fargo Theatre downtown I got to go back stage and talk to him for a minute. We talked about the archive series and I asked him what else they were going to do. He said “next is ‘Over The Rainbow.’” I asked him if he meant the Rainbow Theatre in London on the Tonight’s The Night tour. He smiled and said yes. That tour is largely unheard in the public, and in collecting circles it is the most sought after stuff of all – kind of a holy grail search for the heart of Neil. On that tour he regularly performed drunk and went on long rambling raps in the middle of the song “Tonight’s The Night.” Some versions would last 45 minutes and some nights he would play the song three times in the same set. There are really no high quality versions of these shows out there so I was quite excited for the prospect. Then the next release to come out was The Canterbury House and it was so good that I forgot about the Rainbow release. Then “Dreamin’ Man” got announced and I thought; “what happened to the Rainbow? So, I went into this release with a somewhat bad attitude. When I got a copy I put it on and was almost immediately transported. It is one of those things that Neil and only a few other performers I have seen can do; completely engross the audience as a solo act. Very hard to do. From the first note of this CD it is clear Neil is playing these songs (the entire Harvest Moon album before it was out) with an uncommon urgency. He is in beautiful voice and his solid, accompaniment is wondrous in its simplicity and natural perfection. He is what every dorm-room wannabe wants ta be. Like the earlier Massey Hall release the effect is transcendent. The concert ends (Dreamin’ Man is actually taken from a series of concerts) and you realize you have shared an intimate experience, not just listened to a record. The material stands up pretty well too. Harvest Moon is sort of the sequel to the classic Harvest and it showcases the loving, homebody Neil as opposed to the tortured rock warrior. His love songs resonate in the heart as profoundly as his electric guitar playing stings in the ears. This is another bullseye for the archive series.

Paul Epstein