Gig review: Neil Young at First Direct Arena, Leeds

Neil Young, seen here in 2009, is still a force to be reckoned with. (PA).
Neil Young, seen here in 2009, is still a force to be reckoned with. (PA).
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There is an old saying that you should always leave the audience wanting more.

Had Neil Young and his impressive band called it a night after their barnstorming rendition of Rockin’ in the Free World then we could have all gone home happy.

One of the reasons why it brought the house down was not only because it was a cracking song brilliantly brought to life (which it was), but the half a dozen or so songs that preceded it had been a classic example of self-indulgent guitar noodling.

So when Young and his bandmates came back out again and performed a meandering, if noisy, jamming session it all felt a bit flat.

And to think the evening started so promisingly with Young on stage alone armed with his trusty old acoustic guitar serving up a volley of classic songs, including Heart of Gold and The Needle and the Damage Done.

Then in a bizarre move a bunch of people in white protective suits appeared to symbolically ‘cleanse’ the stage as Young was joined by his band.

There were a couple more highlights including From Hank to Hendrix and Unknown Legend, before the songs began to morph into one another.

If I sound a bit frustrated it’s because I was. Neil Young has a back catalogue that is the envy of most and he remains one of the greatest-living songwriters. The 70 year-old has been making music for more than 50 years and unlike some of his peers who are starting to look, and sound, a little shaky, he’s still got it.

He’s certainly not lacking in stamina either as he showed with that thunderous, fist-pumping, foot-stompingly brilliant version of Rockin’ in the Free World that brought Leeds Arena to its feet.

If only he had stopped there.

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