Neil Young – Live at Massey Hall (Reprise)
The Massey concert is legendary performance, well known among Neil Young fans and bootleg traders as a must-have recording. Now, finally, all of the subtleties of Neil’s performance are revealed in the incredible fidelity of the official release. Even hardened Rusties will be amazed by the sound quality.
And here we get the complete show, unlike the Fillmore release which stingily gave us a meager six songs taken from two separate performances, and hacking off “Cinnamon Girl” for reasons that only make sense to one person on the planet: Neil Young.
The promo we received only contained the audio, which was awesome, but not the DVD. So when we heard that the local Brew & View was showing it on the big screen, we cleared our schedules and checked it out. Below, in the laziest and most half-assed form of journalism imaginable, we present the I.M. conversation between GLONO founders Derek Phillips and Jake Brown.
DP: Tomorrow (Wednesday, March 14th) there is an XRT Free Screening at The Vic Theatre’s Brew & View! Come and check out Neil Young- “Live at Massey Hall,” recorded in Toronto Ontario Canada on January 19th, 1971. Doors open at 7:30pm, show starts at 8pm. Bring your friends, and enjoy the free screening – courtesy of 93XRT!
JB: oh wow
DP: Nice, eh?
JB: very cool
DP: I am seeing if Riviera would like to see that instead of getting together to work on the new material. You interested?
JB: perhaps. that would be dope
DP: Neil, tonight. You in?
JB: i think so. when you leaving?
DP: We’re meeting in the lobby at 7
JB: ok cool.
DP: Should be awesome
JB: got your phone?
JB: gotta go. bye.
JB: so hey, we need to write about the neil movie to justify spending all that money on beer
JB: so what’d you think?
DP: I liked. I can write a short review of the movie if you want to couple it with a review of the disc
JB: sure, or i was thinking we could just wing it over im
DP: Ah, a conversation
JB: sure why not?
DP: One moment
JB: i think it was very obvious the the footage shot was never intended to be the complete show.
DP: Yes, or like you said, the stoner cameramen had to keep ducking out to smoke a bowl or pee
JB: right. so neil had to cobble together some footage
DP: But yeah, it was incomplete. The choice to intersperse shots of a tape machine rolling on stage is odd
DP: Bernard Shakey
DP: Crazy old Neil
JB: sure, but neil had to give us the full show.
DP: On film?
JB: better that than have fans saying, “how come that song is on the CD but not the DVD???”
DP: Oh yeah. I dug it. I liked the clips of the ranch, which is my dream life
JB: and the audio was fucking awesome throughout
JB: neil sounds so good
JB: and his guitar playing was perfect
DP: He could do no wrong at that time
DP: Think of the albums that were written and recorded around that time
JB: i’m amazed how comfortable he seems
DP: It was his triumphant return to Canada!
JB: and the canadians go nuts for him
DP: Why not? He’s a hero
JB: “now i’m going back to canada for a journey through the past…”
DP: Touching, really
JB: “there is a town in north ontario…”
DP: I love his quote: I’d love to move back to Canada but I married a California girl. She loves the ocean and I love her, so…
JB: a man needs a maid, after all
DP: Neil is the perfect mish mash of Canada and California, actually
DP: Those albums ARE California in the 70s
DP: Which comes through in the Massey show
JB: hippie rancher
JB: what a setlist
DP: I also love the introduction of new songs that are now such a part of popular culture
JB: yeah, like how nobody cheered when he went into “heart of gold”
JB: from the medley with “man needs a maid”
DP: The medley is killer. It’s an album-only download on iTunes
DP: “I wrote this one about my ranch…” Old Man
DP: “Here’s another one about my ranch…” Out on the Weekend
DP: Great stuff
JB: yeah. and the stuff never got released.
JB: like “bad fog of loneliness”
DP: Such a strange song
JB: you think strange?
DP: I love it, but it’s odd
JB: how so?
DP: Like “Thrasher” or “Campaigner”
JB: “i dream of sweet caress…from you…”
DP: Neil: The Romantic
JB: i like how he introduces “needle and the damage done”
DP: Yeah. Spooky. Those deaths were still very recent
JB: yeah. very recent.
JB: and danny whitten was still alive
JB: i love “helpless” solo.
DP: Even sadder
JB: it’s way more…helpless sounding
DP: I think Neil has a quality similar to George Harrison in that everything he sings has that tinge of despair. Know what i mean?
DP: When it’s a song like “Helpless” or “Pocahontas” it’s crippling. Solo, it’s deadly
JB: yeah even “dance dance dance” ends up sounding unhappy, ha ha
JB: it’s that built-in nostalgia
JB: or something
DP: From a 24 year old
JB: and there’s so much more! ha!
DP: Sugar Mountain – 19
JB: “i am a child”
DP: He’s what people talk about when they refer to old Souls
JB: i can totally dig that early midlife crisis neurosis
JB: you know?
JB: “hold on to 16 as long as you can…”
JB: ha ha
JB: i remember listening to that song when i was 16
JB: and being all, “right on, john cougar! you got that right!”
DP: back to neil
DP: The audio is incredible on Massey
JB: yes. the dvd is a cool thing, but the VALUE is in the audio
JB: the film is just a bonus
DP: and treated as such
JB: not necessary, but cool for what it is
DP: I did like how ghostly Neil looked with that lighting
JB: yeah. and his awesome hair.
JB: and flannel
DP: Looks like a killer
JB: looked like he could be in the movie singles!
JB: played by matt dillon
DP: Those 90s dorks WISH
JB: it was fun to see it on the big screen though
JB: i was surprised there weren’t more people there
DP: I think some people were confused when there was no mention at the theater itself
JB: yeah. where did you hear about it?
DP: I am on the XRT mailing list
JB: and most fans were probably watching it at home
JB: since it came out the day before
JB: the vic couldn’t even get an advance?
DP: But you can’t beat Brew & View
JB: no, it’s great.
JB: i love drinking and watching movies
DP: I wonder if it was even technically legal for them to have this viewing
JB: yeah, i wonder
JB: they certainly didn’t make a big deal of it
DP: But yeah, Brew & View with Neil Young 1971. can’t beat that
JB: yeah, so i wonder what’s going to be on the dvd in the archives?
JB: 2 dvds, right?
DP: That’s the word, yeah
DP: I am praying for loads of Springfield
JB: oh yeah.
JB: when was ohio?
JB: kent state?
JB: ok. cool.
JB: i’m hoping for some csny footage
JB: neil was so weird back then
JB: not letting them film him at woodstock, etc.
DP: Oh yeah
DP: I was YouTubing some CSNY and Springfield yesterday
JB: find anything good?
DP: Not much on the Springfield
JB: fucked up
JB: can you imagine? the government shooting kids?
DP: yes, I can
JB: “we’re finally on our own…”
DP: I remember reading this account from a student who was there and returned home for summer break and her dad saying “those kids deserved it” and how that completely ruined their relationship for the rest of her life
DP: Can you imagine?
JB: nice photo on wikipedia of csn and some dude.
JB: no y.
DP: I didn’t know Graham Nash was a woman now
JB: i love how on the journey through the past soundtrack, there’s that awesome live version of “find the cost of freedom” that they medley into “ohio”
JB: that’s probably my favorite csny thing ever
DP: I use that on mixes all the time
JB: it’s the best
JB: i’ve got a crappy mp3 of it now
JB: ripped it from my vinyl at 128kbps
JB: before i valued quality.
DP: I can give you a 192 kbps mp3
JB: that would be great.
DP: No sweat. Remind me
JB: you rip it yourself?
DP: I did
DP: I might start a classic reviews feature
DP: reviewing old albums
DP: Where do they sit today?
JB: i think that’s a great idea
DP: Not in the context of their time, but where they are now
DP: Exile as of right now
JB: so hey, any final words on massey?
JB: i’ll wrap it up.
Okay, so while it’s clear you need to buy the Massey CD, the bonus DVD is not quite essential. It’s cool to see, but it’s not something you’re going to sit around and watch over and over. Then again, the standalone CD retails for $12.99 and the CD/DVD combo is only seven bucks more. And the DVD apparently also contains a commentary track recorded by Neil in 1997, which is probably pretty cool. So shit, for the price of two beers maybe you really do need the DVD, as well.
If you pick it up, have us over so we can eat your chips and watch that commentary track. GLONO will bring the beer.
Neil Young – Old Man – Live at Massey Hall
Neil Young – Ohio – Live at Massey Hall
9 thoughts on “Neil Young – Live at Massey Hall DVD”
I used to wonder if the Archives could ever live up to my expectations, but after hearing Massey Hall and watching the DVD, I think those box sets may exceed my wildest dreams.
I love to hear an audience react to songs they’ve never heard before. One of my favourite NY bootlegs is “Citizen Kane Jr. Blues” (Bottom Line, NYC) where Neil plays “new” songs from OTB and TTN. He’s obviously having a good time and is unusually chatty (I think the recipe for “honey slides” is on that one) and it’s fun to hear people laugh at some of the wry lines in “Ambulance Blues” etc. Closest I’ll ever get to my fantasy rock and roll time machine.
Even though I’ve played most of those songs to death over the years, Massey Hall helped me listen to them with fresh ears. I was surprised that “A Man Needs A Maid” and “There’s A World” (written in “good old Vancouver”), which I usually skip on Harvest, were actually some of my favourites.
I also loved the shots of Neil at Broken Arrow Ranch. This is exactly how I would expect a rich Canadian living in California to live – you don’t buy a mansion with a swimming pool, you buy LAND. It was cool to see the footage of him sitting under a tree playing the banjo (one of my favourite Joel Bernstein photos). Somehow, Neil makes me feel homesick and nostaligic for Canada without leaving the country! I think “Helpless” should be our national anthem. (Just look at our military – haha!)
And Derek, I like your idea for a “classic reviews feature.” I hope you decide to follow through.
Must own this. Very nicely done!
And I think Dreamin’ is right: The Massey Hall show presents familiar material with a fresh perspective (from what I’ve heard so far).
“I didn’t know Graham Nash was a woman now”
Another thought re: the NYA performance series… Fillmore was Disc 2, Massey Hall was disc 3, so perhaps the Riverboat show(s) will be disc 1?
According to the Rolling Stone article that first announced the Archives (in it’s current form), The Riverboat Show will indeed be Disc One:
“Purple words on a gray background. . . “
I saw him on that tour. And when I listened to Massey Hall—and I must say that it is breathtakingly astonishing—I felt sad as I thought about the gulf between then and now.
I had had a mad crush on a cheerleader. What made matters somewhat worse for my chances was the fact that her father was the dean of schools, and I was the snot-nosed long-hair who spent an inordinate amount of time in the principal’s office spouting “radical” slogans. “Look who I’ve brought home, Dad.” Like it wasn’t enough that she was a cheerleader. Oh, and I should mention that she had an on-again/off-again boyfriend. He was a jock. A few years older. And didn’t like me. At all. Why would he?
And so I took her to see the concert. I’d figured that she’d melt. Didn’t work.
You’d think I’d learn. I didn’t.
I took her to see another concert that year. Todd Rundgren. Young wore flannel. Rundgren came out in a unitard. Red. I should have known to give up when he launched into “Never, Never Land.” Another brilliant show from which I never recovered.
I sometimes think about that girl. And in more uncharitable moments hope that she became a rundown stripper or a ponderous housewife. She probably didn’t. She’s probably the wife of some prosperous businessman. A booster.
And I wonder whether she ever remembers that guy hunched over his guitar singing, “When the dream came, I held my breath with my eyes closed. . .”
fellow posters, your Neil Young stories kick the shit out of mine, but I thought I might add…I’m listening to this record right now, and the sound is fantastic, even the audience claps. Young’s voice and guitar sound fresh, and you certainly get the sense you’re hearing the songs anew. I usually dislike live albums because they don’t compare to the live experience or a well made studio record, but this is without a doubt an exception.
Looking this up to check the price on the local Amazon, I found this hilarious page.
I think the IM review format worked really well. It makes sense. Sentences are so over. Little phrases are enough. And the weird, jerky back and forth of IM is so fresh, so now!
Really, it’s like listening to two obsessives talk on a bus, back when people talked on buses. Eavesdropping was fascinating. IM feels like that.
I heard the Massey Hall dvd in my local Starbucks — you couldn’t work, or read, or write. You just listened. It was spellbinding. And sooooo nostalgic.
I like it when shitty sales can help an album like this enter the Billboard charts at #6.