Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Barclays Center - 12/3/12

Better than: Anyone who's ever tried to play a song for longer than five minutes.

Neil Young's wobbly presence on stage is fascinating. He glides around, slow but confident, moving ever so carefully with the music -- whether he's crooning a quiet, reflective ballad about watching his friends die from drugs, or slamming chords on his guitar while screaming, "Keep fuckin' up!" His expression -- one of those deep-set eyes half-squinted, peering out into the soul of seemingly every god damn person in the room --rarely changes. He sings from the corner of his mouth. His lips quiver. Sometimes, he'll even toss a fist in the air to emphasize a point.

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Neil Young, Foo Fighters, Black Keys To Play A Big Charity Show In Central Park

Neil Young.
The Global Festival 2012, a concert on Central Park's Great Lawn sponsored by an outfit called the Global Poverty Project, will take place on September 29; Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Foo Fighters, and the Black Keys will headline, with Band of Horses and K'Naan serving as support acts. As is customary with shows on the Great Lawn, he show is free as far as monetary cost, but you'll have to give up some of your time if you want to get in—to enter the lottery for tickets, you'll need to point your web browser to, which is chock-full of " a wide cross-section of content and actions about international health and development issues, ranging from videos to in-depth white papers," and peruse some of the content within to accrue points. Three points enters you into the lottery for tickets. But if you don't want to click around with the hoi polloi, there are, of course, VIP options available. Private bathroom access: Worth your $189.50? It's your call!

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Live: Neil Young And Bert Jansch Preside Over Avery Fischer Hall

Neil Young/ Bert Jansch
Avery Fischer Hall
Sunday, April 24

Better than: Easter dinner with your two guitar-playing grandfathers.

As the crowd of Neil fans sorted themselves out at Lincoln Center, there was a bit of murmuring when opener Bert Jansch took the stage. For all their knowledge of Neil's back catalog, few audience members recognized the British folk legend, who was an early influence on Young back when he was still busking at caf├ęs in Toronto and is a most apt choice as opener on this string of East Coast dates.

That lineage between the two gentlemen is best heard when playing Jansch's heart-breaking 1965 song "Needle of Death" next to Young's equally poignant 1972 updating, "The Needle and the Damage Done." Neither Jansch nor Young sought to revive such old ghosts and avoided playing these songs, although both men will reunite with former bandmates come June; Jansch and his Pentangle bandmates will reunite to play Glastonbury Festival and Young will join the reconvened Buffalo Springfield, culminating in an appearance at Bonnaroo. But if tonight proved anything, it was that neither man needs a full band to carry a room.

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Live: Tom Waits (And A Punk-Rock Neil Diamond) Dominate The Rock Hall Induction Ceremony

The 2011 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
Monday, March 14

Better Than: Whatever was happening at Death by Audio tonight that Bruce Springsteen didn't show up to, for whatever reason.

First off, let's tell you what you want to hear: Tom Waits stole the show.

Introduced via improvised ramble by brother-in-scraggle Neil Young, Waits accepted his Rock Hall induction with his trademark stream of comical platitudes, zen-like aphorisms, and dry half-truths. It looked like he was reading them from his passport.

Here are some of the best ones:

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Neil Young Made A Surprise Cameo at the Bell House Last Night

In retrospect, this one was not unforeseeable, given that last night's lineup at the Bell House was headlined by Bert Jansch, a not infrequent Neil Young tour partner and buddy, and supported by the Pegi Young Band, which of course is fronted by Young's wife. Brooklyn Vegan even touted the rumor in advance. Still, pretty exciting that Young came out and did the whole set with his wife's band. Video below, though honestly, we're not even sure which one's Neil (the guy on the left, right? They all look the same!):

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Cough Up the Bugs: Here's Two New Neil Young Videos

Already, one prominent critic who's had the pleasure of hearing Neil Young's imminent new Fork in the Road in its entirety has suggested to me that writing an article with the title "Let's Avoid Neil Young's Next Record" was a bad idea. A popular sentiment. Two videos have emerged to let the unconvinced decide for themselves -- it is certainly true that the blunt, populist rage of "Cough Up the Bucks" (chorus: "Where did all the money go?/Where did all the cash flow?") has aged remarkably well since, oh, December. It's still pretty knuckleheaded (the beyond-lo-fi video itself, wherein a besuited Neil grouses into a cell phone and bangs listlessly on a laptop while sitting in the back of a limo, is pretty funny though), but if surly repetition is your thing, then, hey, sure. Sounds way better than it did at MSG, in any event.

If "Bucks" merely complains without offering any solutions, well, at the moment that's pretty common, too. And the tender acoustic "Light a Candle," below, actually does offer a suggestion, visually portrayed by Neil's wife, Pegi, out the back window of a camper. Album's out April 7. We shall see.

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On Booker T. Jones' "Warped Sister," featuring Drive-By Truckers and Neil Young

booker T plus DBT.jpg

Booker T. + the DBT's; presumably Neil Young's too busy with his electric-car rock opera to be photographed.

As the phrase "bitter cold" figures heavily in many NYC weather reports today, let us seek out perhaps the warmest-sounding man in all of music: Booker T. Pitchfork is streaming a track from the Stax giant/MGs cohort's imminent ANTI- solo album, Potato Hole -- "Warped Sister" features surly guitar from the Drive-By Truckers and Neil Young, though that's not terrifically evident, given that the focus is focus is squarely on Mr. T. Jones' (yes) very very warm and vividly melodic organ work, not to mention the equally excellent cowbell. Put this on repeat and don't leave your apartment under any circumstances.

Live: Neil Young at Madison Square Garden

photo via the Muzikspy

Neil Young
Madison Square Garden
Monday, December 15

Pity the bros stuck in the assigned seats 'cause down on the Madison Square Garden floor, it was a real rock show. While Neil Young shredded and warbled for two-and-a-half hours, dudes passed out down there (one during the stoner-doom jam of "Cortez the Killer") and security guards sang along. Also Pity the bros confined comatosely to their chairs because the pace of Young's night--silver shrapnel jams from an eight-foot (!) Magnatone amp, classic strums, and long stretches of plodding songs about fuel-efficient cars--was well-served by being able to wander. That's exactly what Young did musically with his non-Crazy Horse combo.

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