Review Summary: Hey it's Neil Young. It kicks ass.
There are some albums that are great to go to sleep to. Then there are those albums that are too good. I was going to sleep last night rather early and I decided to listen to Live at Massey Hall for the first time while going to sleep. Well, I never went to sleep. Neil Young’s performance at Massey Hall is moving. He bears his soul to the crowd, who can’t get enough of it. Just looking at the track list you can tell it’s going to be great.
When Neil’s all alone with just his acoustic guitar, harmonica, and piano he does his best work. He spills out everything and he really gives us a great performance.
It seems like with this performance Neil perfected his songs in a way. Like with Down By The River and Cowgirl In The Sand. These two are tracks that I really enjoy and my only complaint is the length of them, but Neil has fixed this here with Down By The River coming in at a bit over four minutes and Cowgirl In The Sand at 3:45. Cowgirl In The Sand starts out with the mysterious guitar work that gives you a sense of being alone, just you and Neil singing his song. It takes you off on a trip and that’s just amazing. Neil plays Down By The River after a few people screamed for it and he gives them what they want. This sets itself apart from the studio version somehow. For the most part it resembles the original, but he adds more intensity to it especially during the chorus where he sings; “Down By The River” in an emotional burst. With the shortened time you get a better sense of the song because there’s not as much guitar work. He just simplifies it to make the song take you where it couldn’t when it was nine minutes long.
Notice I used the word intense up there. That’s a word that came up in many description of Neil himself so it’s only natural that it would come up in his music. You bet it does. Especially in his performance of Old Man. This is one of those songs that you really need to hear Neil do alone. When there are extra vocals and all that it just takes away. He introduces it explaining about the old man on his ranch. When it starts up it’s nothing mind blowing and you can hear what he’s doing on the album it’s on, but after the little run to chord thing he lets everything come out in the lines; Old man take a look at my life I’m a lot like you. I need someone to love me the whole day through. This is what you don’t hear in the studio. He sings in his normal pitch but he just sings louder and much more forlorn which really hits everything home. There’s A World is another one that beats the studio version. Without the over-the-top sound it really lets Neil bare everything.
The way Neil grabs you with his emotion and he really makes you reflect on things that he wrote about and even if you have no clue what is happening you think; “That’s sad.”
Ohio is one of these and that’s what I said when I heard it. I now have a vague idea in my head after my guitar teacher told me about it. The songs about a very sad thing but the fact that you can feel bad that it happened and not quite know what even happened really shows Neil’s talent as a songwriter. Love In Mind is another grabber. His sadness really comes out in his voice with signs of heart ache. At his BBC performance he said it was about a girl who he was in love with but hadn’t really ever met. When you start Don’t Let It Bring You Down get ready to be taken away into the song because that’s what’ll happen. His voice accentuated by his simple guitar chords really delivers and you notice a sense of something being resolved at the end.
As many of you know you don’t need to sound sad to be emotional. You don’t think so? Listen to Dance Dance Dance. It’s so upbeat and the crowd really gets into it. They help ol’ Neil keep the beat by stomping and clapping along. With the upbeat guitar going on the emotion is found in his voice. Even if the song isn’t about something that is emotional Neil twists it and turns it until it is. After this there is a lot of noise and clapping and I’m going to guess that they want Neil back. They want an encore and he gives it to them. I Am A Child is another semi upbeat song that still has a lot of emotion. While it’s not as happy as Dance Dance Dance you can hear that it’s not as gloomy as a lot of the other tracks.
Neil delivers a moving performance to the crowd at Massey Hall. Neil really gets his emotions across and you can feel what he feels. This is definitely worth your time and money. When this finished I really felt tired. Not out of boredom, I’m not sure why. It was just emotionally draining. It really helps you get rid of a lot of your sadness and it’s hard not to be happy at the end of it.