Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Review- Band Of Horses w/ Neil Young + Promise Of The Real @ DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, MI on July 14, 2015

Band Of Horses w/ Neil Young + Promise Of The Real @ DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, MI on July 14, 2015

Cross another one off of my bucket list. We are living in the twilight of the gods, when the elder statesmen of Rock And Roll are eligible for social security benefits yet continue to draw larger crowds than new bands. There is a lesson in there somewhere but that's a discussion for another time. For reasons that elude me I have never seen Neil Young in concert before. I would either forget about it or no one else wanted to go or I was broke. It was as if the cosmos itself conspired against me. I vowed to myself to never let it happen again after missing him the last time he rolled through town, and it took another three years for him to return to Detroit.

DTE Energy Music Theatre, or Pine Knob as it was called until 2001, is an outdoor amphitheater 30 or so miles north of the city in an area which was the boonies when I started going to shows in the '80s but is now stripmall and chain city. “Allow another boulevard to claim a quiet country's insane” indeed. Outdoor shows are entirely dependent on the weather. The high was in the 70s, which is great, but it rained on and off until around the time Neil Young took the stage. Band Of Horses played to a damp crowd. They were tolerable and enjoyable to a degree.

 Neil Young took the stage at 8:46 after two people dressed like farmers walked around the stage for a few minutes, acting like they were spreading seeds and watering flowers. He opened the set solo, playing piano and harmonica on After The Gold Rush. He changed one of the lines from Look at Mother Nature on the run in the nineteen seventies to Twenty first century. Heart Of Gold was done on acoustic guitar and harmonica, ditto Long May You Run. Old Man sounded great, with Neil's voice sounding really strong on the chorus. Mother Earth (Natural Anthem) rounded out the solo set, this one played on some kind of organ.

Promise Of The Real are Neil's backing band. Willie Nelson's sons provided great backing vocals and they played their asses off. Out On The Weekend was the third of four songs from the classic Harvest album to be played tonight. Unknown Legend, From Hank To Hendrix, and Harvest Moon were an unlikely trio from 1992's Harvest Moon that worked well with the crowd. Wolf Moon was the first song off of the new album played tonight. The band ended up playing seven of the nine songs off of the freshly minted The Monsanto Years album.

Words (Between The Lines Of Age) is a favorite of mine and sounded awesome. Bad Fog Of Loneliness was one of those deep cuts that I didn't dream would be played. Then came a trio of new songs: A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop, People Want To Hear About Love, A New Day For Love. The live versions bury the studio versions and Neil sang them with incredible passion. While some people have dismissed his environmental and political stances on the new album it was visibly apparent how important all of these things are to him. The world really does seem to be standing at some kind of crossroads.

Cowgirl In The Sand showed that Neil Young is still one of the most badass guitarists on the planet, and the young bucks backing him were no slouches either. Workin' Man and Big Box are my favorites off of the new album and they sounded fantastic live. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere sounded great. Monsanto Years and Love And Only Love rounded out the set proper.

The curfew at the venue is 11:00. Nearly every band avoids blowing it because there is a $1,000 per minute fine. I half figured that Neil would blow off the encore because of this, but Neil Young is more Rock and Roll than most. He said that this place will always be Pine Knob to him. Don't Be Denied blew my mind and I really hope that Time Fades Away receives a re-release that doesn't require me to plunk down $160 for a four LP set like the one that came out last fall. Roll Another Number (For The Road) was a fitting closer for such an herb friendly crowd. I have not seen a haze like that over the lawn in many moons. So Neil Young blew the curfew by ten minutes, resulting in a $10,000 fine. If that isn't flipping the bird I don't know what is. Two hours and twenty five minutes. Lawn seats were a reasonable $30.00. I am not sure what more anyone could want.

Dude, let's watch the show through our phones together.

I do have a gripe about the crowd, though. People are stupid with their cellphones. I saw many people playing with their phones incessantly, checking Facebook, texting, Snapchat...basically anything other than watching the show. I don't understand why anyone would pay money for a ticket and then stare at their phone. Take these two brotards who stood in front of us until we moved. They were fucking idiots. Couldn't go more than a minute without filming, taking a picture, checking a message, etc. Unbelievable. There was a type of ADD to them that made me want to punch them. The girl next to us ended up yelling at them. That got brotard B (on the right) to settle down mostly, although brotard A was expressing his God-given right to be an asshole and play on his phone throughout the show. Smartphones have ruined concertgoing along with moviegoing. I do snap a few quick pix but never with a flash and never for every minute of every song.


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