“Old man look at my life, I’m a lot like you were” – Neil Young, “Old Man” , 1972
On the left corner, a giant of a musician, the one who almost never stopped doing great music in almost fifty years, on stage with his best band. On the right corner, the new breed, a young man on the rise, in the great tradition of beautiful songwriting with an edge in sound. So who won ?
- Neil Young & Crazy Horse, 6th June
My last two Neil Young shows were in small venues (Grand Rex, Zenith) so saying I was delighted to go to Bercy to see him live would be a lie but with him being back with his old Crazy Horse amigos, there was not much choice. Neil Young is part of my personal Top 10 and the way the great man keeps on doing great records is really a constant joy. Tonight, the 67-year old Canadian was not on an acoustic mode (although he played a couple of songs alone on harmonica and guitar) but on a grungy one. Starting their great set list with “Love and only Love” from their 1990 “Ragged Glory” LP, the band played as they usually do, meaning in a very tiny space, very close one to the other, despite being on stage in a huge and cold arena.
After the very good surprise as well in seeing the excellent Californian band Los Lobos as opening act, Neil Young set went on with great power and energy and the least one can say is that the songs from last “Psychedelic Pill” LP are really on par with older ones. Once again, the only regret is to have to see Neil Young in an arena and I would recommend for those in the South West of France to go and get them when they play in Biarritz in July.
One last word for our French speaking readers : there are currently two excellent readings about Neil Young : the first one is a special issue from les Inrockuptibles whereas the second one is a new bookzine called Muziq ; both are deeply recommended.
- Kurt Vile & the Violators, 8th June
Change of atmosphere for Kurt Vile & The Violators at la Maroquinerie. My third Kurt Vile show after Austin in 2011 and le nouveau Casino in Paris in 2013, it was with great enthusiasm (and with a loved family member!) that I went to see him with his great band in this tiny and warmly theater. On top of it, la Maroquinerie has a restaurant where you can have a nice dinner before and after the show and in the past I had been lucky enough to have dinner near the Dears, Badly Drawn Boy, The Lemonheads or Shearwater for instance. This time I was indeed seated very near Kurt Vile who mechanically signed on the cover of the LP’s I had bought.
His show was… warmer I would say and after once again a very good opening act (Emily Wells), the band played like hell since the first song, the fantastic “Wakin on a Pretty Day” from the new LP. I suddenly realized that 33-year old Kurt Vile was not that different from what Neil Young probably was in his thirties : inventive, traditional, nice but no the most compromising person ever, great songs, the acoustic/electric duality, the way he plays with his musicians (Jesse Trbovich on guitar being a real jewel), and so on and so on…
So I guess you got the point : Kurt Vile is an important artist and although the music business changed vs. what Neil Young faced when he started, I am sure this young man will be with us for a long time. Discover him if not done yet and you will be rewarded.