As someone who has seen Neil Young in concert numerous times over the years, the one thing I’ve come to learn is that any one of the notoriously mercurial artist’s numerous musical personalities might show up.

On one night, you might get “acoustic Neil,” which in my experience almost always prompts some yahoo in the crowd to shout out a request for something like “Rockin’ In The Free World.”

Or you might get an all-out electric assault such as when he tours with a band like Crazy Horse, which inevitably raises an eyebrow from those who came to hear something like “Heart Of Gold.” In between those two incarnations, Neil will every once in awhile throw a curveball and come up with something completely off the wall like his tours behind Trans (techno Neil), Old Ways (country Neil), or more recently Greendale (just flat out weird Neil).

This past Tuesday night at Everett, Washington’s Comcast Arena, we got “greatest hits Neil.” Which made for one of those rare occasions where the artist seemed to be intent on sending everyone home happy, and as a result made for a great Neil Young concert.

Kicking off a two hour set with the one-two punch of Ragged Glory’s “Love And Only Love” and “Hey Hey, My My,” Neil came out with both guns blazing as far as cranking up the amplifiers went. Not two minutes into “Love,” Neil got that trance like look he gets in his eyes, and proceeded to rip into a full-on, feedback drenched guitar assault as the crowd roared it’s approval. From there it was onward to “Everybody Knows this is Nowhere,” “Cinammon Girl,” and “Spirit Road,” from last year’s Chrome Dreams II CD.

For the acoustic portion of the show, Neil stuck with his mellower, time honored classics like “The Needle And The Damage Done,” “Heart Of Gold,” and “Old Man.” The next part of the show dragged things down just a notch with the odd choice of “Get Back To The Country” from the Old Ways period, followed by three new songs that while perfectly serviceable, weren’t particularly memorable.

Not to worry though. I got back from a much-needed bathroom break during that segment just in time to see Neil close it out by strapping on “old black” for blazing versions of “Cowgirl In The Sand” and “Rockin In The Free World.” Here, the rhythm section of drummer Chad Cromwell and bassist Rick Rosas laid down the foundation for more of Neil’s trademark cranked to eleven guitar craziness, which was also in abundance during an encore which included a stunning cover of John Lennon’s “A Day In The Life.”

What was most noteworthy about this concert wasn’t just that Neil Young’s “Electric Band” sounded like such a razor sharp machine, but that Neil himself seemed to be having such a good time. This showed through in one of the more intense Neil Young performances I’ve ever seen. There were plenty of great Neil Young songs that were not played – among them “Like A Hurricane,” “Cortez The Killer,” and “Harvest Moon.” With a catalog as vast as Neil Young’s, there is just no way that you’re going to get hit with everything in a single night.

Yet I doubt very much anyone went home feeling any less satisfied, or thoroughly spent, as I did.

Hometown favorites Death Cab For Cutie opened the show with a fine, well received, if unremarkable 55 minute set.

Here is Neil Young’s Setlist:

1. Love And Only Love
2. Hey Hey, My My
3. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
4. Powderfinger
5. Spirit Road
6. Cinnamon Girl
7. Oh, Lonesome Me
8. Mother Earth
9. The Needle And The Damage Done
10. Unknown Legend
11. Heart Of Gold
12. Old Man
13. Get Back To The Country
14. Just Singing A Song
15. Sea Change
16. When Worlds Collide
17. Cowgirl In The Sand
18. Rockin' In The Free World


19. A Day In The Life
20. The Sultan

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