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Just got in from my FIVE hour bus ride back to school after the Neil show at MSG. Here's how I saw everything from section 301, row L -- that's right: dead center, second to last row in the venue...
The crowd wasn't too bad for a NYC crowd. Plenty of hoots and whoooos and whistles. Neil commented a few times, but always in jest. The crowd clapped along a lot more than what I expected after reading other reviews of other shows and the whole crowd was SINGING along to the well known tunes -- Goldrush, Harvest Moon, and Pocahontas especially.
So, Neil opened with the usual first set and didn't say too much. War of Man was stunning. Neil had the same fits of rage that he has with the Horse, except he was all alone. I wish he would have gotten up and danced around while he was banging out that one. I thought the soloing on the new tunes, like Looking Forward was a bit more than normal compared to the tapes I have, and it was very appreciated. Neil was hitting all the fast notes as he flicked off some lengthy solos considering he had no backing.
Highlight of the first set had to when he was introing Homegrown. He started to talk and then he went into the Seagulls comment about how the crowd sounded like being on the beach. Then, some idiot yelled out "Speak up. What did you say?" (or something similar) and Neil retorted "If you hadn't been talking, you would have heard me talking... This is a short song, it has no story, there's nothing to say..." (I may have gotten that quote wrong, I guess the tapes will have to be checked.) He also made a few remarks earlier about "Thats all the witty patter I have for now... I'm looking for some recievers... I've got to save it for Letterman..."
The intermission was good enough. The three fools behind me, who were probably no older than me, left because one of their friends was puking on the floor next to his seat. The lights went back down, Neil came out and ripped into Distant Camera. I think he flubbed some of the playing on this one if I remember correctly. It sounded like he was just hitting the wrong string once or twice. Still, it was louder than I expected.
Ambulance Blues next, and I guess the rusties in the audience knew to be quiet, and the other folks couldn't sing along to a song they didn't know, so it was splendid!
Old King was next, and the story seemed to change again. This time it was raining outside and Elvis went running at night then he came back in. But "At 6am he had to go... he HAD TO GO... SO HE WENT! " Also, Neil told about how he got elvis for xmas in a box. And then someone started making dog noises but Neil yelled back "He didn't sound anything like that..." [different dog noises from the crowd] "...Getting better..." And then Neil asked everyone to stop before it got out of hand.
LMYR on organ was the highlight for me I think. It was spooky and made me really think about the song's lyrics. And ATGR on piano and then pump organ was a realy sweet way to end the show. Somewhere in there, Neil did the "How y'all doing out there?" and when he came back for the encores and thanked the crowd for being so good. I guess he was expecting worse?
The encores were all wonderful. Next to Looking Forward, Good to See You is my favorite new song, and I really enjoyed Pocahontas and Powderfinger. Pocahontas was longer than I expected, with some cool sound effects done by dragging the pick on the strings.
Overall, I think it was a great show. Setlist was "standard" but since I was only seeing one show, I wasn't upset. I just wish the one moron in the crowd who got into a screaming match had waited until AFTER Philadelphia was over. The words "Fuck you asshole" don't fit into the song very nicely.
(more reviews to be added soon... --RE*AC*TOR)