Neil Young & Promise of the Real – Rimac Arena UCSD – Oct. 13,2015

I got home around 1:30am after just leaving a 3:20 long Neil Young show and I wanted to learn a little more about his new backing band, Promise of the Real. I found a great article that went into detail about their relationship with Neil, how the tour came together, and what they did to prepare for it.  Then at the bottom I read some of the comments and the one on the top read:

Independent_Joe:  Just came from his concert in San Diego. It sucked. Started late, ran too long, only a handful of classics. Boring, and folks were leaving early. Save your time and money.

Well that did not reflect at all what I had just experienced at the same event.  So I thought I would leave a response for him. I very rarely get involved in any sort of internet squable – but this time I couldn’t resist.  My response can probably just serve as my review of the show:

jonkey (<– that’s me!) So Independent_Joe thinks the San Diego show was boring,too long and he didn’t play enough hits. Well, I went to the same show and definitely did not come away with that impression. First, let me say that I am sure that this was Indie Joe’s experience at this concert and I definitely would not try to change his mind. However, I would like to offer a contrasting viewpoint.

First, Joe says that the show started too late. I looked at my watch when the farmer girls came out and it was 8:50PM. Considering that the opener, Jenny Lewis (who put on a lively show that was well received by an audience that probably wasn’t too familiar with her), came on and played for about 40 minutes. That means the break between groups was only about 40 minutes. As rock ‘n’ roll shows go, that’s not a bad turnaround – especially with all the equipment NY and band had up there.

Our friend Joe also suggested that the show was too long. That’s like ordering a nice cold mug of craft beer (I’m thinking Lagunitas Sumpin Sumpin Ale) and getting a pitcher served to you instead – at no extra cost! There are a handful of artists that traditionally put on 3+ hour shows: McCartney, Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Rush come to mind. Neil Young also belongs on this list, so really, when you bought your ticket this is what you signed up for! You can always walk away and leave some tasty beer in the pitcher – but don’t blame the nice bartender who hooked you up!

As for the “lack of hits”. Well, he did play “After the Gold Rush”, “Heart of Gold”, “My My, Hey Hey”, “Old Man”, “Harvest Moon”, “Down by the River” and “Love and Only Love”, among other notable songs. I think what you meant is that he didn’t play “Cinnamon Girl”, “Ohio” or “Rockin’ In the Free World” like you wanted him to. The way I figure it, the dude is 70 years old and has been doing this for a half a century – if he wants to play a deep album cut or an interesting cover instead of the same songs every night – that’s probably a good thing. The key with Neil is that he is playing all of those other songs on this tour – you just have to show up at the right gig. Trust me, I would have rather heard “Cinnamon Girl” in place of the last 10 minutes of jamming on “Down by the River” (which came in at 27 minutes on this night). But on the other hand – that 27 minute jamtastic version was pretty epic (so really it’s a close call!) .

That Neil Young still mixes up his set-lists and digs deep into his catalog, plays challenging extended jams, and plays multiple songs off his recent record, The Monsanto Years, all for over 3 hours per show, demonstrates why he is not considered some oldies act like The Beach Boys, Motley Crue or Def Leppard. These all may still be fine musicians who can still remind us of why we loved them once a upon a time, but they are no longer vital creating forces and if they didn’t play all their hits the word would get out pretty quickly and there would be far fewer butts in the seats.

One other complaint that Joe made was that the show was boring and folks were leaving early. I go to A LOT of concerts and often I’ll spend some time observing the crowd and I have never seen so many folks falling asleep in a concert before. I just think this was well past their bedtime. Neil Young may be creakin’ and scrappin’ his way to old age but much of his audience has not discovered the same fountain of youth. And really, the younger folks that left early just don’t appreciate great rock n roll music. There were plenty of folks still left in the stands and on the floor listening to music played by an icon who can still bring it and backed up by an exciting and talented band. So to you Indie Joe – let’s meet up for a beer some time and work out this whole expectations thing – and don’t order a Stone Ruination Triple IPA when you actually wanted a can of bud light. Cheers!

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