Sunday, April 22, 2012

Neil Young Dreamin' Man Live '92 (4*)

If I've taken my time getting to Dreamin' Man Live '92 I can always point to the lack of urgency Neil Young displayed in getting to this document from his 1992 tour. Not much urgency in a close to twenty year gap between a handful of concerts selected from the four dozen shows spread over four legs of touring between January and November 1992 and this album's appearance as volume twelve in the Archives Performance Series.

And, with the disregard for sequencing we've almost come to expect from Mr Young it might be volume twelve, but it's the fifth to actually be released.

That 1992 tour was widely bootlegged, so, if you’re looking for a more accurate record than this chronologically sequenced collection of live recordings covering a non-sequential rerun of Harvest Moon’s ten tracks they’re out there. Many of them are perfectly listenable, and there’s a sixty-two track tour compilation in circulation as well, covering the whole gamut of songs played on the tour from acoustic takes on the likes of electric classics like Down By The River and Cinnamon Girl through to songs he wouldn’t get around to releasing officially until  Le Noise two years back (Hitchhiker).

So, what have we got here? Well, for a start we’re talking chronological order, rather than any other variation. Dreamin' Man from Portland in January, Such a Woman from Detroit four months later and three each (One of These Days/ Harvest Moon/You And Me and From Hank to Hendrix/ Unknown Legend/ Old King) from two consecutive nights in Los Angeles four months after that and a two month jump forward to Chicago (Natural Beauty) and Minneapolis (War of Man) for the last two tracks.

Being solo and acoustic, we’ve got Neil mostly on guitar, hopping over to the piano for Such a Woman, taking a turn on banjo for Old King, with the odd blast of neck brace harmonica. The result isn’t quite a deconstruction or reinterpretation of the Harvest Moon material, more a stripped back version of some of his strongest material from the nineties, delivered with the intimacy the live acoustic small theatre setting makes possible.

Long term fans would be totally aware of how well Neil works this sort of setting, and while there’s plenty for the more casual listener to enjoy here, Hughesy, for one, would much rather  have seen a complete recording of a particular concert, maybe with the rest of the Harvest Moon material added to the end, something like the full set list from the show that gave us the opening track, Dreamin' Man, here.

That would have read: Long May You Run, From Hank To Hendrix, Unknown Legend, Silver And Gold, You And Me, War Of Man, Old King, Such A Woman, Harvest Moon, Heart Of Gold, Dreamin' Man, Natural Beauty, Don't Let It Bring You Down, Sugar Mountain, After The Goldrush.

But despite those (slight) misgivings, given the fact that the Harvest Moon material mightn’t be totally familiar to the average listener, Dreamin’ Man Live '92 works well enough to warrant an evaluatory listen.

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