Trying to cover the entirety of Neil Young’s tempestuous 40 year career in a documentary film lasting not much more than 60 minutes is a bit like trying to pour the Atlantic into a bucket, an impossible task, however noble the intentions.


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I’m chatting to Kurt Wagner, who I’ve just bumped into at the back of The Borderline and because I haven’t seen him for years, I’m gabbing away and don’t realise that I’ve actually interrupted him on his way to the stage for his headlining appearance at another great Club Uncut night.


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Twenty minutes before they come on, the crowd’s excitement becomes increasingly palpable, an audible hum, an impatient restlessness swarming through the massed ranks of Drive-By Truckers die-hards pressed hard against the front of the stage and spreading quite contagiously through the serried ranks of the people craning their necks for a better view on the outer perimeter of an impressive turn-out, even thought here’s nothing yet to see, apart from a few scurrying roadies, bumping into things in the dark.


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John’s written on his Wild Mercury Sound site about last night’s extraordinary performance by White Denim at the latest Club Uncut at the Borderline. It was, as he says, truly mind-blowing – especially coming almost straight after we’d just seen The Hold Steady at HMV in somewhat comical circumstances – and in the circumstances inevitably headline-grabbing. It’d be a pity, though, to completely overlook the earlier appearance at the Borderline of White Denim’s Full Time Hobby label-mate, Abilene’s Micah P Hinson.


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The night before Pete Doherty plays a sold-out solo concert in the plush splendour of the Royal Albert Hall, we find his former Babyshambles bandmate, guitarist Patrick Walden, getting ready for a gig with his new band, Big Dave, in a small tacky room above a bar called Catch 22 in Shoreditch.


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I was just picking up my ticket and earplugs when Patti Smith was ushered through the crowd in front of me. I would have said hello, but the last time I spoke to her she threw a plate of sandwiches at me after I described her then-boyfriend, Allen Lanier of Blue Oyster Cult, as a ‘certifiable midget’.


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They look, famously, on the cover of last year’s Tonight At The Arizona album, like the wayward off-spring of The Band, with whose songs and music their own colourful excursions into the hinterlands of ‘the old, weird America’, as essayed by Bob and The Band on The Basement Tapes, are frequently compared.


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Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
London Wembley Arena
Thursday, May 22 2008

“Good evening” says Robert Plant, flinging back a mane of tangled hair from his face, early on in tonight’s extraordinary show. “And welcome to. . .” he goes on, and pauses. “Well, I don’t know what it is,” he says then with a smile that before it’s finished turns into a grin, and a big one at that, visible evidence of a man clearly enjoying what he’s doing, even if he can’t put a name to it. “But you’re welcome to it,” he adds, “whatever it is.”


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“This is an old song,” says AA Bondy, introducing the next number in his opening set at the third Club UNCUT night at the Borderline. He’s not kidding, either. What I had presumed would be some lost early gem from his back catalogue turns out to be a dark and powerfully brooding version of Blind Willie Johnson’s apocalyptic “John The Revelator”, originally recorded in 1930, which is going back some.


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Neil Young
Hammersmith Apollo
Thursday, March 6 2008

The last time I saw Neil Young at the Apollo was in 2003, when he was touring to promote his ecological country rock opera, Greendale, still unreleased at the time, which meant no one had heard any of the songs. The unfamiliarity of what he then played provoked among the audience a certain restlessness that quickly gave way to collective dismay when it dawned on them that he wasn’t going to play merely a selection of songs from the record, but the album in what turned out to be its indigestible entirety.


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Editor's Letter

The new Uncut revealed! Arctic Monkeys, Neil Young, Kate Bush and Warren Zevon in new issue


Next month, Arctic Monkeys play two shows at London’s Finsbury Park to more than 100,000 people, which makes it a reasonable moment to look back at the band’s journey from the Sheffield suburb of High Green to their current all-conquering place in a rock pantheon where they are...