Neil Young: Carnegie Hall 1970

New Young albums come along faster than the 38 bus to Crewe and the quality can be patchy (including a set recorded as a warm-up to this) but this is superb. It’s the first release from his Official Bootleg series.
It’s just Young and his acoustic guitar and piano and there are 23 songs, many classics now, and these performances are as good they get, presumably down to New York’s Carnegie Hall’s acoustics. (In his 2010 book, The Acoustics of Performance Halls: Spaces for Music from Carnegie Hall to the Hollywood Bowl, J Christopher Jaffe, an acoustician, engineer, and architectural consultant, referred to Carnegie Hall as “the acoustic crown jewel of American concert halls”).

The acoustics capture the simple beauty of many of Young’s songs, with Young himself in chipper mood, nine weeks after releasing After The Gold Rush and a year ahead of Harvest.

Highlights are the usual suspects but the crystal clear sound and Young’s tender singing and playing shed new light on them, in particular Cinnamon Girl and Ohio, and we had Down by the River as an earworm. Helpless is also good and Southern Man gains new potency.

Young even cracks a few jokes, and a joke about all his songs having the same intro (expressing disbelief that the crowd knows what he’s going to play when they start applauding) is one he was still making 40 years later when we saw him in Manchester.
Young at his best, a must for any fans of Shakey.

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