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Globe Arena Stockholm, Sweden
July 3, 2001
It's just before 9 PM... The lights go out, and a familiar quartet enters the stage at the Stockholm Globe Arena. Not a word is spoken, just the noise of the guitars being picked up. Then the familiar opening chords to the magnificent Don't Cry No Tears. The band seems more relaxed than I've ever seen them before. (This is my 5th Neil Young show.)
Next up is I've Been Waiting for You, quite a good version. Then follows Love And Only Love. Neil staggers across the stage, stumbling, squeezing out tones with his entire body. As if every footstep is a crucial move on Old Black's neck. Ten wonderful minutes. This is, of course, a very good opening -- and still Neil hasn't said a word to the audience.
The fourth song is, no surprise, Piece of Crap, one of his worst. I can't think of anything good about this song, and I really can't tell whether it's a joke or not? Never the less, quite many in the 10,000+ audience seem to enjoy it. Well, the song is quite short and, actually, the only real low point for me in the show.
Next come two new songs, both very good, and both very much in the "Neil Young tradition".
The lights go out and leave the stage in complete darkness. The Horse leaves, and Larry Cragg (who also contributes piano on one of the new songs) hands Neil an acoustic six-string. This is the real highlight for me...
First an absolutely beautiful From Hank To Hendrix. Then a splendid Don't Let It Bring You Down. Next, an inspired Pocahontas, in a new arrangement that's played rather staticly on a 12-string. And last in the solo set, one of the most touching moments I've ever experienced in a concert hall: a truly amazing After The Goldrush. The spotlight on Neil's white hat, sitting at the pump organ, back to audience, singing the 30 year old hippie-anthem, and bringing it right into the 21st century. The clarity in his voice sends shivers down my spine as I visualize how music must sound in heaven. This is really the angels singing. Breathtaking.
Right after the last chord Crazy Horse is back on stage. Sampedro at the piano and Neil on acoustic for a very relaxed and focused Only Love Can Break Your Heart. Then it's two more new songs, the first being Standing In The Light Of Love, a rather disappointing effort with lacklustre lyrics. The next one's something completely different and the most intriguing of the new ones. Hope it makes the next album.
So far the show's been relaxed and really laid-back. But the following inspired, high energy versions of Hey Hey, My My, Sedan Delivery and Hurricane change the mood radically. The band seems so much more focused this time than during the last European tour. The harmonies work better and everyone seems to enjoy playing. In the feedback-orgy that closes Like A Hurricane, it's wonderful to see Billy stumbling across the stage, right before the band leaves, just to give his bass guitar a last kick.
The silence is deafening as the stage crew changes the guitars for the encores. The only thing moving is the synthesizer, slowly rising towards the roof through the smoke, unwinding from the warlike noises, just like the bird phoenix. The audience claps their hands, stamps their feet. A young girl in the row behind me shouts at the top of her lungs as Neil returns to the stage. He just stands there with his band mates to greet the audience, slowly waving their arms in a silent "Thank you, we'll be back" gesture.
The encores are magnificent versions of the country rock stompers Powderfinger and Roll Another Number that make my heart cry for joy and my face shine with pure happiness. A great, great ending of a great, great show. I wish it had lasted forever.