June 11, 2003
Chastain Park Amphitheatre - Atlanta


Lucinda Williams:

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Opener Lucinda Williams played like a trooper through an intense downpour that lasted the majority of her time. She belted out lusty, twangy roots rock with dark, deep undercurrents.

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Balancing favorites like “Car Wheels On A Gravel Road” and “Change The Locks” with even darker cuts “Joy” and “Essence,” Williams presented a killer introduction to her amazing catalog of work and kept the hard-to-keep attention of the Chastain crowd better than any opening act I’ve ever seen. She even managed her own well-deserved standing ovation at the end of “Joy.” Even the headliner had trouble doing that.

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Neil Young & Crazy Horse:

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What a miserable night for a concert! Peals of rain, thunder, lightning and oppressive humidity tormented those brave souls assembled at the unprotected-from-the-elements outdoor venue. On the other hand, it seemed somehow fitting and reflective of the stormy and ornery career of Neil Young. Tonight, it was unclear whether he was rewarding or punishing his fans. For the first hour and a half of the concert, he performed his forthcoming rock opera Greendale in its entirety. While it’s not surprising to his diehards that he would do something like that, the casual fans who paid over $80 a ticket were completely taken aback and disappointed and what transpired that night. Luckily, some of us appreciated the sneak preview of an album that should re-establish Neil’s firm footing following increasingly shaky releases over the past decade. Greendale is surely his best work since Freedom in the late ‘80s. During “Grandpa’s Interview,” Neil drawled out “I’ve got a brand new song to sing. It’s longer than all the others combined and it doesn’t mean a thing.” This was something of an admission and a straight-out confrontation. The fact is, he does have something to say and he’s downright curmudgeonly about it. Greendale deals with the current state of the world as dictated to us by the media. It follows this trail to tell the life and death effects it has on a couple of salt of the earth families. The description of a Clear Channel billboard on the outskirts of his fictional town that states “Support Our War” says more about the content than I can. It was particularly compelling at a Clear Channel sponsored concert.

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At one point, Young sent Crazy Horse backstage and picked up an acoustic guitar. The crowd, unfamiliar with the music, continued to chat amongst themselves waiting for something that they knew. It was all too apparent during such a quiet song. After strumming about a minute, Young halted the song and leaped from his chair shouting, “This reminds me of Las Vegas!” Not understanding that it was meant as a put down, most of the crowd cheered. He continued, “No, I made the mistake of trying to play acoustic there one time. It won’t happen again.” He then stormed across the stage, “It’s good to know we’ve got a little bit of Las Vegas right here in Atlanta. You didn’t need to hear that song anyway.” After plugging back in, one of the later tunes had the lines “I’ve just got to keep on singing. Won’t anything make them shut up?” It couldn’t have been more appropriate. Not much later, he said goodnight without a single familiar song having been played. Of course, he came back out, but when he announced, “This was one of Grandpa’s favorite songs,” he seemed to be taunting the audience in anger. The crowd gasped in disbelief, figuring another new one, but it was “Powderfinger.” Finally, the masses came to life. Crazy Horse followed with typically stinging versions of “Hey Hey, My My” and “Like A Hurricane” which reminded everyone of why they came. Funny thing is, in a few years they’ll be clamoring for the new material the same way. Neil Young has been around for 35 years. He is still growing and inspired. Too bad a huge chunk of his audience isn’t.

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Neil Young & Crazy Horse Set List (6-11-03):

1. Falling From Above
2. Double E
3. Devil's Sidewalk
4. Leave The Driving
5. Carmichael
6. Bandit (incomplete)
7. Grandpa's Interview
8. Bringin' Down Dinner
9. Sun Green
10. Be The Rain


11. Powderfinger
12. Hey Hey, My My
13. Like A Hurricane