LocationMeyerson Symphony Center 2301 Flora St. Dallas, TX 75201
DatesApril 18 7 pm
When some artists start to move into their “golden years,” they can lose a step or two when performing live. As it’s been true for his entire career, Neil Young isn’t just any musical artist. The supposedly inevitable decline does not apply to him.
The veteran Canadian singer-songwriter and activist opened a two-night stay at the Meyerson Symphony Center on Thursday night with a truly beautiful performance that put most other live musical acts I’ve seen recently to shame. It was also exactly the right kind of show for the venue, which Young remarked he really liked. “Maybe I’ll get a job here,” he quipped.
With a catalogue of a whopping 35 solo albums and one of the most recognizable voices in the history of popular music, the 68-year-old had plenty of material to choose from. He pieced together a set list that spanned his career, including a little Buffalo Springfield (“On the Way Home” and “Mr. Soul”) and some fantastic covers of Phil Ochs (“Changes”) and Gordon Lightfoot (“If You Could Read My Mind.”)
Young took the stage, which was home to numerous guitars and keyboards, a few minutes late. But as soon as he hit the opening notes of “From Hank to Hendrix,” he had the sizable crowd eating out of the palm of his hand.
Every song he played felt like coming home. The stories he told through his lyrics were touching and, at times, thought-provoking. Whether he was playing guitar, 12-string guitar, harmonica, electric keyboard, piano or pipe organ, he was on point all night.
Young played 10 songs before taking a 20-minute break. He then came back with “Pocahontas,” which might have been the best song of the night, although the competition was stiff. He followed that up with “A Man Needs a Maid,” “Ohio” and “Southern Man,” which no doubt took his longtime fans to some nearly forgotten place.
Although Young showed a humorous side, he chided a fan that shouted out for him to “play it” when he started talking about a guitar. Mostly, the crowd was respectful. However, there always seem to be people who can’t resist trying to be a part of the dialogue with the artist. With Young, that was not a good idea. In fact, an announcer asked fans to turn off their cell phones and to not call out song titles prior to the show. Yeah, right.
Young finished the second set with “Harvest Moon,” “Red River Valley,” “After the Gold Rush” and “Heart of Gold,” which he called “his hit.” He played just one encore, “Thrasher,” to wrap up the nearly two-hour show. Having never seen Young play live before, I was blown away.
The only thing wrong with the show? Outlandish ticket prices. A $99, $199, and $299 a pop, a lot of folks are priced out of going to see him play live. And that really is a crime. He is still one of the best in the business.
Young plays at 7 pm tonight at the Meyerson.
From Hank to Hendrix
On the Way Home
Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Love in Mind
Mellow My Mind
Are You Ready For Country
A Man Needs a Maid
If You Could Read My Mind
Red River Valley
After the Gold Rush
Heart of Gold
All photos by Chuck Cox.