Gig Reviews, Dublin, The O2

27

Neil Young (live in The O2, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: Neil Young and Co. pulled no punches during their June 21 show at Dublin’s O2. Now 63 years old, Neil Young still puts on an exciting and visceral show. Ripping through crushing riff laden classics such as Cinnamon Girl and Hey Hey, My My, Young made no effort whatsoever to show his age. Even in the quieter moments of the show, Young was still all blood and guts, singing every line like he still means it.  Once upon a time, Young sang that “rock ‘n’ roll can never die”. It certainly won’t as long as he’s around.

The Cluas Verdict? 9.5 out of 10

Full Review:
The opening act on the night was Villagers, who set up in the cramped space between stage front and Neil Young's mammoth set-up of amps, pianos, organs and various other noise making devices. They seemed comfortable in front of such a massive crowd, Conor O'Brien howling and crooning with a passion that was soon to be echoed by Ol' Shakey himself.  The crowd themselves were appreciative, which only fed the band’s enthusiasm.

Young and his band pulled no punches, opening up with the crushing Hey Hey, My My. Rock 'n' roll will never die indeed. I envied those who were standing up front getting the full force of Neil's sonic maelstrom, especially from the gigantic Baldwin Exterminator amp (an 8 foot tall monstrosity, surely a Health and Safety nightmare). 

The band showed themselves to be multi-talented, with all but the drummer and bass player shifting around to various instruments and vocal duties. 

The two hour set consisted mostly of older material, with just one nod to his more recent work. Neil is clearly in his element on stage, stomping around firing off screeching, rumbling guitar solos with a ferocity you rarely see in bands forty years younger than him. Age is clearly not an issue for Young. 

When he wasn’t beating the living hell out of his trusty electric guitar, Ol’ Black, he gave tender and fragile renditions of his acoustic material. The classic Harvest Moon was particularly beautiful, with Young’s band capturing all the sweetness of the original. 

The highlights of the show were Rockin' In The Free World (he must have played it for about 20 minutes), the beautiful and slightly bizarre Neil and organ solo Mother Earth and his raucous cover of The Beatles' A Day In The Life, which ended in him tearing the strings off his guitar and making the most unholy noises you've ever heard in your life. 

A Day In The Life seemed to me to be a realisation of John Lennon’s original idea, totally bombastic without being ridiculous. Young’s guitar more than made up for the lack of the orchestra in The Beatles' cut. 

Having been to Bob Dylan in The O2 earlier in the year, I was a little apprehensive about the gig, but Neil was as passionate and fiery as he has ever been. Think about THAT Bob!

Nick Appleby


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