Direct bookmark: http://HyperRust.org/Tour99/?R12
I only attended the Thursday night show at the Hard Rock Hotel/Joint, and due to some other commitments failed to hook up with fellow rusties -- but it was nice to run into a few of you at the show just the same! (You know who you are.) I'll promise to carve out more time for socializing next time around.
I hate Vegas, but the Hard Rock Hotel was a nice place. There was construction, and me and the wife asked to switch rooms because of the noise. Too bad Neil had to go to another hotel. On that point...
I hadn't been in Vegas for any more than an hour Wednesday night when... I met Neil. At about 8pm I was going across the lobby and he walked past me, and I immediately turned and watched him turn down the corridor next to the Joint box office. I followed, but then a lady brushed past me and ran up to him, tugging on his sleeve. They talked briefly and he kindly brushed her off, saying something about later or after the show. (She was maybe asking for an autograph or a photo op?) Noting that, I slowed down; plus, Neil had two guys flanking him.
Just the same, as he turned to go, I -- ever one with the bon mot, always thinking on my feet -- blurted "Welcome to Vegas, Neil!" (Lord, am I a chump or what? I could have said "Hey, what the hell is Powderfinger about, dude?" But nooooooooo....) He turned, smiled, and waved, and kept going down a side corridor. I almost followed, but thought better of it. I smiled at his handlers, who for some reason were just standing there. Later I figured out why: the "side corridor" was the men's room! Dang, and if I'd been cool about it I could have been standing next to Neil seeing how I "measure up" to him... scratch that thought. Anyhow, I still count that as "meeting Neil," despite the tentative nature of it.
Needless to say, I kept a CD sleeve and pen with me the rest of the visit. The next morning while we were at breakfast I did see him cross the lobby, but it was kind of hurriedly, so again, I tried to respect his privacy (as it were -- see note above about latrine fantasies).
Since I didn't have meet/greet tix, I was able to arrange with a friend who's roommate works at the Hard Rock to give Neil a gift: a CD-R of the last recordings of Rainer, who passed away a year and a half ago. I thought he might enjoy it, and Rainer was a friend of Emmylou's as well. Hope Neil got it.
The Thursday night show: I didn't write down a setlist, but the one on HyperRust looks about right. The crowd WAS very respectful, I thought, once he gave the little admonishment about other folks not wanting to listen to you chat with your girlfriend. The ushers only seated people during applause, and no booze was sold except during intermission, so that helped.
He seemed relaxed and in good spirits. It was funny to hear him do Heart Of Gold right after Slowpoke -- so obvious that he's given up people not thinking the latter is the former during its intro! He introduced Hank Williams' guitar and said no way would that EVER hang on the walls of the Hard Rock!
Here's my take on the tour based on this one show... Since it's billed along the lines of an intimate evening with Neil, that should be taken as face value. What he's doing is touching on the things that are important to him at this stage in his life: family, parents, love, values, even some sentimentality.
It was one of the most emotionally moving shows I've ever attended. Thinking about my folks, who've both passed on, during Daddy Went Walkin' really choked me up -- and that's the job of the artist, I think, to let us know that we all share things in the larger sense.
Also, the tale about Old King, his dear ol' departed blue-tick hound Elvis, is not, I don't think, a pointless one; he dearly loved that dog, and it's his tribute to same, and his right to pay tribute. Knowing that the dog "up and died" beforehand makes the story bittersweet and moving. I found myself missing my ol' cat Max (who died a year ago) during that song. So again, the artist was offering his shoulder to lean on very effectively.
Even the Farm Aid rap was okay by me; it's an issue he feels strongly about, and it's his show and his right to talk about it.
Too many great songs. More obscure ones than I would have thought, and that's why I liked it so much. It made me think, it made me concentrate on the larger picture he was trying to present. It's as if he's saying in his artistry onstage: here I am in 1999, this is what concerns me and what moves me -- and if you're a fan for this long, I hope you'll continue to find the things that concern me and move me of interest.
Clearly, not pandering to expectations. I don't think my $125 ticket gives me the right to expect this or that song. I think that by buying the ticket, I've expressed my privilege to get a little glimpse into Neil's world, exactly as he want me to see it. Wouldn't have it any other way.
Time to go wash my teeshirt and iron it for work tomorrow!
Old Pueblo Flyer
(more reviews to be added soon... --RE*AC*TOR)