Neil Young; Photo: Gavin Paul

Dashing harmonica lube on people in the front row as he did on the other three dates of his Dolby Theater run in Hollywood, Neil Young‘s fourth and final set from the little church of rock pulpit he created – two organs, a piano, myriad guitars, Indian totem – was a largely reflective affair, Young letting his songs do more of the talking, opening as he did on every other night with “From Hank to Hendrix,” peering out from his hat brim to angle that verse that pretty much explains America’s favorite Canadian ethos since day one: [LISTEN]

"From Hank to Hendrix"

No mention of his recent push to change the way we listen to digital media with PONO - sorry, “letting music change [us]” – no tirade about the tar sands. Most love and banter was either given to the backstories on every guitar he’d pick up – an old one previously owned by Hank Williams he used to play “Harvest Moon,” a gift from Stephen Stills before “Harvest” – or his current sleeping habits. Which was merely comic relief on account of how rapt the audience was, refraining from a lot of the cat calls from previous shows. But still, the most acerbic he got was a Hemingway-like preamble before “Ohio,” “Music has gone through a lot of changes. New songs have gone on to take their place,” proceeding to slap the pickup of his guitar like those Nixon foot soldiers were marching around him on stage: [LISTEN]

"Ohio"

Maybe that’s because when Young talks, he sounds like a 68-year-old, cracking old man sleep jokes and shooting harp riffs to his Indian totem for solemn guidance. But when the man sings, or plays, he’s lost nothing. It is perpetually After the Gold Rush 70s, his dusty yearn aging fuller and brighter in tandem with his army of wooden guitars, Young changing the lyrics when appropriate: [LISTEN]

"After the Gold Rush"

He did give some love to Gordon Lightfoot (“If you Could Read My Mind“), Phil Ochs (“Changes“) and Tim Hardin (“Reason to Believe“) that paid respects to the spirt of the American songwriter. And the set was a kind of repeated hit parade, borrowing much of the same Harvest and 70s golden-era of his career picks from previous Dolby nights. But this “Old Man” just doesn’t get old. Especially as his songs catch up to him. And regardless of what the next few years will bring him, when Neil Young tells and audience “I’ll see y’all down the road,” after a verse from “Thrasher” that has learned not to fight the rules of time, he can walk similar roads all he wants, he’s one of the few that encourages a different view every time out: [LISTEN]

"Thrasher"

Setlist:

From Hank to Hendrix
On the Way Home
Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Love in Mind
Philadelphia
Mellow My Mind
Reason to Believe(Tim Hardin)
Someday
Changes‘ (Phil Ochs)
Harvest
Old Man

BREAK

Goin’ Back
A Man Needs a Maid
Ohio
Southern Man
Mr. Soul‘ (Buffalo Springfield)
If You Could Read My Mind‘ (Gordon Lightfoot)
Harvest Moon
After the Gold Rush
Heart of Gold
Thrasher