Old Man

December 14, 2008

Went to see Wilco and Neil Young last night at the DCU Center. Neil played for about 2 hours, and covered both old and new songs. Among the classics were “Old Man,” “Cinnamon Girl,” “Hey Hey My My,” and “The Needle And The Damage Done,” most of which rocked. The newer material I found mostly forgettable (lots of tiresome eco-lyrics and tired cliches about oil, greed, etc.). One thing’s for certain, though – the crazy 63 year-old rocker still has something, and he definitely marches to his own drum. He was dancing around stage pretty sprightly for a guy who suffered a brain aneurysm and nearly died 3 years ago, although the rock-star lifestyle’s clearly catching up with him. For the most part, the show was a pretty straightforward mix of folk-rock and harder stuff with Neil’s, well, let’s say exotic style of guitar playing.
The single-song encore consisted of the Beatles’ “Day In A Life,” played with heavy guitar parts. The piece ended with a caucophony of instruments and guitar feedback, and by the time he was done his 1959 Les Paul had not one guitar string intact (he continued to jangle the torn strings in front of the pickups for an additional minute or so). We’re still trying to process that one.
For the kids, there was Chicago’s critically acclaimed Wilco and 41-year old Jeff Tweedy. Wilco had a much tighter set, trotting out material from the past decade’s worth of albums for about an hour (hard to believe that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out SEVEN YEARS AGO). A highlight was 2004’s “Spiders (Kidsmoke),” which took up about a quarter of their entire set. The quirky and melodic “Hate It Here” off their latest album and “Hummingbird” off “A Ghost Is Born” lightened the mood and showed off Tweedy’s songwriting skills. Overall, they rocked (we’re big admirers of Wilco here at Moxie’s World).
The crowd was a different story, however. Apparently there are a lot of people out there who have been kept on mothballs since about 1977 – who knew? There were enough sexagenarians in the audience to start a AARP convention. Most were quiet couples, but all too many were obnoxiously drunk and/or stoned (more likely to be obnoxious when drunk than stoned), and they were decked out in their tie-dyes, all set to relive 1972 for an evening. I don’t often feel young at a concert (there’s an understatement). And the crowd had little use for those kids Wilco barely in their 40s playing their rock’n’roll, at least in our section up in the nosebleed seats. Hey, they only have six studio albums over 13 years – they may as well have picked up their instruments yesterday. And they only have 2 Grammy Awards, and their latest album is nominated for best rock album in this years Grammys. And they’re darlings of the critics. And they could sell out the DCU Center as headliners in 2 seconds. But watching the old-timers, you’d think that some guy playing a kazoo was the opening act. Yes, I know, we have our resentments here toward the baby-boom generation, and those resentments were in full display last night.
Which brings me to the real issue from last night – the concert was good, but it’s the concert experience that’s hard to take. Personally, I don’t mind having to schlep all the way to Worcester to see a show (although I’d prefer the Orpheum). What kills me is being subjected to the most horrendous parking experiences this side of Dodger Stadium, an hour’s wait to get out of the parking lot, the $20 charge to park, being engulfed in a cloud a marijuana smoke for 3 hours (do you need to take a BONG with you to the concert?? A BONG??!), and security’s tolerance of just about any behavior whatsoever. Once again we were in the drunk section – a man in his 60s showed up completely intoxicated and spent the next 2 hours shouting, falling over, and harassing every woman under 30 within his sight. One older couple went to complain to the management, but of course they did nothing. Several times it nearly came to blows with other patrons. I understand it’s a rock concert and we all know that that’s the devil’s music and so we have to get treated like garbage by all service staff involved, but hey, we paid enough for these tickets for one of us to fly round trip to Miami. We could’ve gone to see the symphony three times for what it cost to see Neil Young and Wilco once. And we wouldn’t have spend 3 1/2 hours traveling and waiting in lines to go to the symphony. How is it, exactly, that somewhere like Tanglewood, which packs them in by the thousands, manages to get all that traffic in and out of tiny little Lenox, Mass. every night without a hitch and with very little waiting, AND with people in their 70s and 80s driving in and out of there, and yet places like the DCU Center, a fraction of the size, can’t get people in and out of a city of 175,000? It defies logic. I think the biggest part of it is that they know they have to provide good service at Tanglewood or people won’t go. People will spend $100 per ticket to see a rock concert, be treated like sick cattle, and have most of the concert ruined by drunks and aggressive imbeciles. The bottom line is that there are big fans of musical acts like Neil Young, and they’ll go to the show no matter what. Beethoven’s 2nd symphony doesn’t command a cult following.

At any rate, no matter how good the show, getting in and out of the DCU Center is enough to make me think twice before getting tickets to see something there again. Ditto for Great Woods/Whatever Center. The Orpheum is a pleasure in comparison – in and out on public transit, with the T station right across the street. 30 minutes from my house by train, tops – 30 minutes from sitting in my livingroom to finding my seat in the theater, that is. And nearly the same coming home.

Yes, I sound like an old man…

btw, does Neil Young LOOK 63??:


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