Neil Young at Carnegie Hall: acoustic perfection and a rapturous audience make for magnificence

The first in Neil Young's Young's bootleg series was brilliantly recorded just after the Goldrush at the Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1970

Neil Young: Carnegie Hall 1970
(Image: © Warner Records)

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The opening arrival in Neil Young’s Official Bootleg series (five more to follow next year) revisits his first solo show at Midtown Manhattan’s Carnegie Hall whose acoustical integrity showcases a performance of divine inspiration. 

The only wonder is why it wasn’t released before, since the 23 songs range from Buffalo Springfield and early solo favourites – Down By The River, Cinnamon Girl, Expecting To Fly – to the unreleased at that time Old Man, and See The Sky About To Rain – though The Byrds version in 1973 is arguably better when tackled by Gene Clark. 

With six recently minted Goldrush numbers, the title track and Birds are both played on piano – and “all the introductions are exactly the same, just so you know”. The rapturous reception indicates Young’s querulous musing was right up New York’s street. 

Hearing Southern Man played on a single acoustic guitar as opposed to the thrash of the album is one epiphany, while the windswept Don’t Let It Bring You Down is cataclysmic. Other treats: Bad Fog Of Loneliness before he aired it on the Johnny Cash Show and the semi-rare pre-Crazy Horse Dance, Dance, Dance. Magnificent

Max Bell

Max Bell worked for the NME during the golden 70s era before running up and down London’s Fleet Street for The Times and all the other hot-metal dailies. A long stint at the Standard and mags like The Face and GQ kept him honest. Later, Record Collector and Classic Rock called.