I have wanted to visit Rockwerchter since 2001 when I was in Macedonia – because I heard from ”Careful with that Axe, Eugene” that this was an amazing festival.
More so I have wanted to see Neil Young again. I saw him the first time at Kalvøya in 1994 and then I didn’t even know much about the man (and the legend). Yes I have to admit that someone at home had desperately tried to make me listen to his works but I was to young and naive to understand what it was all about.
I was at Kalvøya to see Pearl Jam and Rage against the Machine. When Eddie Vedder was about to leave the stage he said some bad ”F” words to the later to be ”Mirrorball-pal”.
Neil went on the stage and delivered something that was rated (probably subjectively) among his ten best concerts! I was amazed and I understood. And I went back to see him in 1995 when he played even better. How was it possible.
This year it was on high time to see him again and I was just as eager as all his fans. He is older now and its almost funny to listen to him play “Old man take a look at yourself, I’m a lot like you are….” (In the end the snake bites his tale) but not fully though as he refuses to let down and plays his songs and the guitar like he is still 15 years old!
It is 2 and a half hour of magic. And we get the feeling that the paradox is a lot more complex than we can apprehend.
He has an enormous catalog of great songs so it is just impossible to hear them all. He does not play the best song (my favorite anyway): Cortez the killer – but he performs the best song in the world. While this song can only be performed perfectly by one guitar player and he has been dead for a long time, Neil does a god second best – we are of course talking about: All along the watchtower!
To be honest I wish I could see a lot more of Neil, Right now!
When I came home I just had to play Cortez the killer a few times just to fill it all up to the brim and get wonderful dreams.
I remember in the beginning when music videos had become popular and Lenny was jumping around screaming: “Are you gonna go my way?”
The pumping energy that Lenny showed us right there, lead us to understand and know that this was something different. But at the same time we had a feeling that he would be just short lived fly on the music heaven.
So wrong and later sometime in 2004 in Latina, listening to his new album at the time, asked the inevitable question: “Has Lenny grown up?” I dared not to think so, I dared not to believe it. Even when “Where are we running” hits me, this question have been bugging me – until I see him first time live on stage.
Even if you might not give it a lot of thoughts a lot of Lennys song has a lot of post-production (as with a lot of music today) and that is often a hard task to bring into the live sound. Lenny knows however that there is something called Rhythm and Blues and by having a great backing band and relying on parts of Rhythm and Blues he makes his tunes different but more alive. Just the way the crowd needs to be pleased and amused.
He is definitely older, but his tunes are not. To my disappointment he does not play “Were are we running” but when he jumps around in the end and screams “Are you gonna go my way?”
We all know that he has not grown up, not even a bit.
Again someone at home tried to make me understand and like REM already in a young age. I was to young but still some of it was actually easier to grasp than Neil Young. And when “Loosing my religion” hits the hits, it was easy to start exploring the catalogue. As of later REMs catalogue of unique and interesting album is quite long and I have to admit that I even enjoy some of the later albums that has been considered “weaker”.
One of my friends back in time went to see REM in Oslo I think and when she came back she was paralyzed and told us about a special moment where Michael Stipe was pointing right at her. True or not true, all of us that sat around the table and heard the story wished that it was us which was there standing between thousands of fans and had that magical short moment of communication with Stipe himself.
Seeing them live for the first time and enjoying them is big. However I had a little of the same problem as I have written about when I saw White Stripes last year. Even if they have the unique REM sound every song is just so special and strange that a full concert of REM just becomes too much.
As with White Stripes I do not intend to criticize REM for this, rather the opposite: The World would just not be the same without them.
This performance was the one that surprised me the most as it was not only good but a lot more. It reminds me a little of seeing Timbuktu actually. The set was set up of a long series of short but hard pounding tunes/raps. Even his most known hits he played short and all in unusual versions.
But it ruled, even his less known songs (which where many) was all rocking us and I cannot say the same of all his studio albums.
Basically he (and his crew) just knew to get the crown straight on a height and carry us higher, never letting us down. In fact there are not many live performers that are able to this without even one (1) weak point. I take my hat(which one?) for this one.
Overall for the festival I was not to impress by the area. Of course I had to try the fries but they made my stomach ache (not the good ones.) and the rest of the food was mostly equally unimpressive. The drink system was also terrible, if you want a soft drink you can only choose Cola. Come on? What about at least some choice like Sprite and Fanta.
For beers you could also chose Kriek while I would not really call it beer, it is an interesting drink. I also find the actual areas itself a bit too small and too crowded, but for strange reasons there was almost never any big lines. I do not understand this, seems to be some strange secret among the Belgians.