Direct bookmark: http://HyperRust.org/Tour99/?R7
In contrast to Portland (3/8), Neil was far more introspective in Eugene (3/12). In Portland he engaged with an audience that was far more rowdy with yet a great sense of humor, while in Eugene, with an audience that was more respectful and adoring, clapping on many songs (particularly Homegrown and Old King) and praising him with comments like "Neil, you f*cking rule!" he was more detached and just seemed to really draw within the music. But this was not necessarily a bad thing ...
After Out of Control, someone yelled "Talk with us, Neil." Neil paused, and in a subdued voice said something like "Okay, let me introduce you to my guitar - this is Hank. He's, or rather she's, named after her former owner - Hank Williams." And with that, he just plugged it in and began playing Albuquerque. And what a performance on that one!
His darker mood just resonated completely with his deliveries of songs like Albuquerque, World on a String, Don't Let It Bring You Down, and Last Trip to Tulsa. Particularly on LTTT, his harmonica just wailed and whipped the hall and his guitar and voice pounded us with both staccato and sustain, showering us with the David-Lynch-like aural landscapes of this masterpiece.
On the more upbeat songs, such as Good to See You and Old King, he was yet able to shift gears and bring up the mood. It seemed a bit of a struggle, but he made the transition. His discussion of family farms on Homegrown was just a pale shadow of what he delivered in Portland, where he had declared "Let's send those factory farms packin'!" This was missed in a place like Eugene -- where organic food and environmentalism is king. But he just wasn't verbally on like he was in Portland.
With the Old King talk he finally seemed to catch his stride again, and introduced the story differently than before, but pulled it off, bringing the house into a laughing roar at the end. Lots of clapping and whooping -- it was great!
The encores were good -- it was great to hear Comes A Time again, but no way can Pocahontas finish a concert the way Powderfinger did in Portland. I'll never forget his 12-string, harmonica-laden performance up in The Schnitz this past Monday. Possibly the best encore of any concert, of anyone, that I can remember hearing live.
So, I close on my most Neil-oriented week of the 90s in a mixture of bliss and melancholy - as I'm thinkin' that I'm leaving there too soon. I'm leaving there too soon.
(more reviews to be added soon... --RE*AC*TOR)