Neil Young is about to embark on one of the most grizzled and stoic phases of his career, and Houston got its first taste of it on Friday night at Jones Hall. He was loud, he was poignant and every word and note he wrung from his cast of guitars and various plinkers dripped from the walls of the concert hall.
He did all this solo, alone on the stage with a wooden Indian in one corner lording over the proceedings and countless generations of fans sitting in rapt attention in front of him. He only showed his age when his hat fell off his head showing his gray hair, and when he spoke of the mortality that is starting to surround him. We can't help but see that he is now one of the last of his breed, if he isn't one of a kind. No tweeting, texting, or Facebook-updating would be going on, per the signs in the lobby, and that made us smile.
The show wasn't a greatest-hits retrospective, and Young is not unlike Bob Dylan, both of whom can now command a sold-out crowd to hear not the same rote versions of their classics, but to actually see the gears turning on brand new material. It's refreshing to know that he has fans that won't begrudge him "Rockin' in the Free World" for a cheap thrill; he can save that for an electric tour with a shit-hot band. Houston got what Aftermath counted as at least seven new songs that have been getting road-tested now for the past few weeks of this "Twisted Road" solo tour.