Neil Young, Bert Jansch | Chicago Theatre | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Neil Young, Bert Jansch Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended

When: Fri., May 6, 8 p.m. and Sat., May 7, 8 p.m. 2011

Neil Young has always been an ornery cuss, and on the 2010 solo album Le Noise (Reprise) he had even better reasons than usual. The deaths last year of two of his longtime collaborators, guitarist Ben Keith and documentary filmmaker Larry "L.A." Johnson, cast a pall over the record—as does the continued U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq and the beleaguered economy. Even "The Hitchhiker," written mostly in 1975, manages to seem apropos with its meditation on Young's own selfishness and self-medication during his early years of rock stardom. Nearly all the songs contemplate mortality, whether that means cleaving to loved ones as the sun sets or raging at the destructive, self-absorbed behavior all around—and Young doesn't spare himself in that indictment. He plays most of the tunes on a single electric guitar, using the kind of big, lumbering, distortion-bathed chords that beg for a bludgeoning Crazy Horse treatment, and producer Daniel Lanois leavens the gauzy murk of his usual style by adding noise and grit to Young's primitive attack with postproduction looping and processing. As opening track "Walk With Me" winds down, screaming flashes of white noise cut, and on "Peaceful Valley Boulevard" fragments of the vocals reappear in isolation, haunting Young's ringing guitar like specters. —Peter Margasak

Price: $43-$253

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