The Great American Sacred Cow treads water with turgid set

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Long After The Gold Rush

Neil Young

HAMMERSMITH APOLLO, LONDON

MONDAY, MAY 19, 2003

So he hasn’t made a truly compelling record since 1994’s Sleeps With Angels. So he’s been treading water with sleepy albums like Silver And Gold and hoary live outings like Road Rock. So he tried to put the kibosh on Jimmy McDonough’s epic biography Shakey.

Fact is, Neil Young is still the most endearing and enduring of rock’s original Western heroes, a rugged bear with a choirboy voice and an implacable self-belief. And we’ll never give up waiting for?what is it now??the fourth or fifth wind of his long and uneven career.

By the time we’re seated in the hallowed pews of the Odeon, most of us know what’s on the menu tonight. A main course of songs we’ve never heard before, followed by a dessert course of classics. A few people are already pissed off before he even saunters slowly on to the stage.

And thus we enter Greendale, Young’s very own Lake Wobegone (or is it Twin Peaks?), the small California coastal town that provides the setting for his quasi-allegorical drama of the contemporary American conscience. If you’re reading this, you’re probably already familiar with the Green family: Earl the painter, Sun the eco-warrior daughter, Jed the druggie son, Captain John the seafarer. You also probably know there’s this pimp-like character who floats around Greendale called “The Devil”.

Maybe you give a shit. I did before I sat through these two turgid hours of slowpoke homilies and sixth-form clich