NEIL YOUNG ‘Young Shakespeare’


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Neil Young’s performance for Young Shakespeare is absolutely superb. In fact, this is the very kind of show by which this great rock iconoclast elevated his profile around the time of his earliest collaborations with Crazy Horse (in its first incarnation) as well as Crosby Stills and Nash. To that end, the superlative quality of the concert renders moot the extraneous factors surrounding its release on audio and video.

Recorded on January 22, 1971, during the ‘Journey Through the Past’ solo tour,  just two months after the release of the seminal After the Gold Rush LP, the former Buffalo Springfielder gave two performances at The Shakespeare Theater in Stratford CT. Strictly on its own terms, however, the music sounds timeless in its stripped-down setting. Young plays acoustic guitar, piano, and harmonica, quietly introducing confessional songs such as “Tell Me Why” in an off-the-cuff way that only renders them even more intimate. Neil also applies that personable manner to material that doesn’t lend itself to good-natured repartee, namely “The Needle and The Damage Done.” In the process, he makes them unmistakably personal, without harping on the subject(s) at hand. And the sound of this inveterate iconoclast leading a singalong with his audience on “Sugar Mountain” is just one of the multiple precious moments here