In fact, Neil Young is much better than his band. He reaches for the sky. His band is the gauge by which you judge whether or not he made it. Shea’s in Buffalo is a beautiful concert hall. Relatively small, ornate, great sound and not a bad seat in the house. Neil’s wife Pegi opened the show with Ben Keith on pedal steel and Neil’s bass player, Rick Rosas. She was better than Social Distortion, who opened for Neil in the eighties.
Neil’s acoustic set opened with a beautiful version of “Hank to Hendrix” and a brave version of “A Man Needs A Maid.” Almost as good as the 1971 show. The crowd cheered every time he played harmonica like it was a miracle. And a bunch of idiots started clapping not in time to one song. There was guy sitting in front of us who told us he was thirty and he loved Neil. He said he was going to get his first tattoo when Neil dies even though his mother would hate it. He said he was wearing a four dollar brown leather jacket and Hunter Thompson shades for the event. This guy had the loudest whistle in the world.
We were happy to see Neil Young’s road manager dressed like the devil he played in Greendale. He was doing big paintings on canvas while the band played and he would bring one of them to the front of the stage and put it up on an easel before each song. They usually had the name of the song on them. I saw MX80 do something like this a long time ago.