Neil Young Defies the Passage of Time

Neil Young captivates with timeless performances and profound solos.

by Nouman Rasool
Neil Young Defies the Passage of Time
© Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

At 78, Neil Young continues to defy the inexorable march of time with his timeless music, firmly planting himself as a monumental figure in the river of rock history. In a recent performance at Jiffy Lube Live, Young, accompanied by the stalwarts of Crazy Horse and the youthful energy of Micah Nelson, delivered a show that transcended temporal boundaries, offering a fresh perspective on classic hits.

The concert kicked off with a mesmerizing 10-minute rendition of “Cortez the Killer,” setting the tone for an evening that would unfold more as a series of moments captured in amber than mere musical performances.

Each song, whether extended or brief, felt as if it occupied a space carved out of time itself, spiraling dynamically rather than following a predictable arc. Young’s guitar work, deliberate and profound, seemed to draw the audience into a vortex where time stood still.

Peak Musical Moments

The zenith of the night came with powerful performances of “I’m the Ocean” and “Powderfinger,” where Young's guitar solos pierced the air with clarity and depth, his voice as commanding and poignant as ever.

It was a display of undiminished talent and a testament to his enduring presence in the music scene. Notably, Young's music has always had a unique characteristic of subtle delays and rhythmic deviations, making his live performances a complex layering of sounds and emotions, with no perceptible drag on his instrumental or vocal delivery.

A quieter, more introspective mood prevailed during the solo segments of the show. Young, with his acoustic guitar and harmonica, delivered renditions of classics like “Comes a Time” and “Heart of Gold”.

The setlist seemed to be a fluid, real-time creation, highlighting the spontaneity and raw authenticity that has characterized Young’s lengthy career. His brief stage banter hinted at a nostalgic yet forgetful moment, perhaps a playful nod to his age or the freewheeling spirit of his earlier days.

Interestingly, the concert took a turn away from the political, despite Young’s history of activism through music. The absence of “Ohio,” a poignant protest song penned in 1970, was felt especially in a year where its themes are painfully relevant.

This choice perhaps reflected the night's atmosphere or the demographics of the audience, suggesting that Young might be leaving space for new voices to address the current political climate. In a powerful conclusion, Young performed “Love and Only Love,” encapsulating his message of enduring optimism and resistance against the forces of hate. It served as a poignant reminder of the simplicity yet profound impact of love in tumultuous times.