Saturday, December 06, 2008

About Neil Young

Neil Young, the ageless Canadian rocker who made two sold-out appearances at Toronto's Air Canada Centre this week, isn't well-known for factoring in his audience's preferences when choosing his set-lists.

This year's edition of Mr. Young, however, sent no-one home unhappy.

His two-hour-plus concert Thursday evening featured a retrospective of career highlights, including the classics Everybody Knows this is Nowhere, Cowgirl in the Sand, Needle and the Damage Done, Old Man, Heart of Gold, the anthemic Rocking in the Free World, a hypnotic Cortez the Killer and his signature ode to punk rocker Johnny Rotten, My My Hey Hey.

But songwriting prowess aside, it was his unyielding tenacity on stage that was most remarkable.

At 63, and apparently recovered from serious medical challenges in recent years, Mr.  Young remains possessed of an intensity that simply defies his age.

Unlike his contemporary, Bruce Springsteen, whose onstage toils often conjure up the illusion that rock and roll indeed is the elixir of eternal youth, Mr. Young simply transcends all notice of chronological age and passage of time.

He just is what he is.  And always has  been.  

He remains wholly remarkable.  Capping off a week that brought a Grammy nomination and the release of a new album, Sugar Mountain, he continues to inspire and grow creatively.

He was in rare form on Thursday, moving seamlessly from grunge to folk to twang and back, and while I've seen him more times than I can count, this will be one concert to remember.

The video below, found online, is a "highlight reel" from an October 2008 concert in Vancouver, earlier on this tour:

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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