Monday, 10 March 2008

Step aside, open wide, it's the loner...

How can you not love a song that starts with the lyrics, "He's a perfect stranger, like a cross of himself with a fox..."?

That is of course The Loner by the one and only Neil Young, who I was thrilled to see last night at the Hammersmith Apollo as an early birthday present from my daddy:

At a mind-boggling £75 a ticket (not that I was paying) we expected good things, but were wary given we'd endured the Greendale tour here. Thankfully this was a fantastic concert, pretty much a greatest hits set. He is the man, he really is.

Cameras were officially very much not allowed, but they had no objection to me taking shots before the show started. Here's the chaotic and colourful stage set, to which we will refer again later:

We were first treated to an hour long acoustic set, just Neil sat in a circle of eight guitars, reaching out to run his fingers across the necks of various ones between songs, making them "talk". There's a video of the epic Ambulance Blues here already, an amazing song which I'd never seen live. "You're all just pissing in the wind, you don't know it but you are..." There was also a crazy, pared down, spooky A Man Needs A Maid, and an ethereal, haunting Don't Let It Bring You Down, just stunning.

At the interval, off went Are-You-Ready-For-The Country Neil, and on came the Godfather of Grunge for an hour and a half of electric maelstrom. Nobody does this better, in my opinion. For no-one else would I tolerate, let alone enjoy, twelve minute long, extended, feedback drowned jams, but with Neil, well, it's Neil. He wrote the book on this stuff. It kicked off with The Loner, how awesome is that? Then a visceral Down By The River, Powderfinger and Hey Hey, My My (the song that Kurt Cobain quoted in his suicide note), another video of which is here (thanks marinade, whoever you are). Amazing.

The only disappointment for me was that we didn't get Cinnamon Girl (check out the 1991 audience!), a desert island disc for me, and played at several other shows on the tour. Oh well, can't have everything, can I? For anyone still interested, the set list is here.

Back to that stage set and a rather interesting concept. Did you see the painting in the background?

Neil had an artist, Eric Johnson, on stage throughout the whole show, painting these huge canvases, occasionally moving on to a new one, oblivious to the rest of the show. During the electric set, he would come to the front of the stage before each song, and reveal one of the giant canvases with the song name and a pictorial interpretation (as seen at the start of that Hey Hey, My My video). What a job, being able to create on stage during a rock concert every night. Wonder if he'd consider a knitter for his next tour?

Support was Neil's wife Pegi Young, who has just released her own album. It must be strange to be the wife of a rock star for so long, then suddenly take that leap to doing it yourself. She was reasonably good, she has a sweet voice and pretty songs, though perhaps uncharitably I don't think she got the support slot entirely on merit. But nice enough, and of course we all cheered her on.

Also did a spot of baking yesterday for yet another March birthday, this one for the lovely Anna of Rate My Cake. How nerve wracking, making a birthday cake for the Mistress Baker! I went with the chocolate sponge with peanut butter icing again, as it seems to go down very well, although seeing as I've made three on the trot now it might be my last for a little while. Happy birthday for tomorrow sweetie!

By the way, apologies for the lack of any knitting content lately. I have been knitting, I promise, it's just that I've been working on my giant green Clapotis and I don't think you'd be too interested in a big emerald quadrangle of slowly changing dimensions until it's done. Which will be soon, I hope, as the boyfriend is referring to it as my "death shroud" now.

1 comment:

KnittingJenny said...

Chocolate sponge with peanut butter icing? Wow, that sounds like heaven. Lucy, I have to tell you that today I had a cake very new to me. It's my birthday, and at the office they had a surprise birthday party for me. It was a complete surprise. And, there was a MANGO CAKE! Whoever heard of such a thing? Only in this tropical climate, I suppose. Mango cake---it was great!