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The Michael Harvest Moon Golden Review
(more reviews coming)
The show details.
A SonicNet review.
If the show in San Jose was "Neil Young & CSN", Oakland was nothing less than "CSNY". There were moments during this monumental performance by the band that brought me back in time to the tapes of the '74 tour. CSNY were in rare form, Neil's guitar work was blistering, and Stephen Stills' guitar work was brilliant, to say the least. All four of these guys were playing together as a team, and it showed, big time.
The crowd last night was way more into it than the Silicon Valley fans. And once again, the band played to a capacity crowd. There were two very cool moments in the first set. Firstly, Almost Cut My Hair was mind altering. I have never, ever heard a version like this before. And then there was Southern Man.
For those of you who don't know, Oakland Coliseum Arena was the sight of the "Southern Man Incident" many years ago, when Neil was performing Southern Man and a guy was getting way into it near the front of the stage. During that performance years ago, the guards beat the shit out of that fan right there in front of the stage. Neil put down his guitar, and swore he'd never play that venue again. That's why there were so many Neil & Crazy Horse shows at the Cow Palace afterward.
Well, in the late '80's, CSNY played there for a Bridge Benefit in December of whatever year it was. And this was only the second time Neil's been back to the Oakland Coliseum Arena since the Southern Man Incident. Something tells me he hasn't forgotten that incident, because last night's Southern Man was so intense that Inca Queen thought I was going to jump over the railing onto the stage.
CSNY got the crowd so into Southern Man I just couldn't believe it. It was the most amazing version of this song I have ever heard. Even the ushers, who were totally cool at this gig, were dancing to Southern Man. I just can't say enough about how moving this piece was last evening.
As the show continued, it became apparent that CSNY were playing as a foursome, together. Neil was really digging playing lead and 2nd lead on a lot of songs. He really got into it on Dream For Him and For What It's Worth. And the Stills-Young dueling guitar battles were back on last night, in full force.
I still find it interesting that the first set is closed with Cinnamon Girl and the third set is closed with Rockin' In The Free World, truly Neil songs, not really CSNY tunes. But Cinnamon Girl does come off great with all four of them. Rockin' In The Free World is a Neil Young classic, and really belongs to The Restless or The Horse.
Down By The River topped out at 14 minutes last night, according to Inca Queen's watch. While it was good, the Down By The River performed Friday night was much better.
For a while I've felt that Out of Control was butchered on the new album. I stand by that opinion -- and it was confirmed when listening to it last evening with Neil on his upright piano and the CSN harmonies live, making for a much more appealing version than what's on the album. Looking Forward and Slowpoke also came out great last night, as did Dream For Him and Guinnevere. Neil left the stage right before Guinnevere, commenting "...I'm gonna leave you with Crosby & Nash. Don't worry, they'll take care of you, you're in good hands..." They took very good care of us with Guinnevere.
Neil was wearing his standard attire, open flannel and t-shirt. Crosby was the butt of a Graham Nash joke, when Nash introduced Crosby as someone who would like to have his baby with you (plural). Crosby appeared to make the best of it, but was less than amused. And Stephen Stills had a little temper tantrum over his guitar effects not working properly in the beginning, but he took a deep breath, and turned his anger into incredible lead guitar.
All in all, this was CSNY at its finest, really the definition of the term "super-group". The theme of the 1974 tour was "we waited four years for this". Now I can't say the 26 years since then isn't worth the wait, but something tells me we can't wait another 26 years for the next tour!!!
So with only one more Northern California show tomorrow night, the question is, will Neil crack out any new tunes, will we hear a lost unreleased classic from the '74 tour like Traces or Pushed It Over The End, or will the set change at all??? Stay tuned for the Sacramento show.
...on wings of magic...
Michael (Harvest Moon)
(more reviews coming soon... --RE*AC*TOR)