It didn't take long to find out if number one Bob Dylan fan Neil Young would find a way to pay tribute to his hero's Nobel victory at yesterday's annual Bridge School Benefit at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California.
The very first song was Neil doing a solo acoustic version of the Dylan classic "Blowin' In The Wind".
Near the end of the show was an unforgettable tribute to Dylan featuring Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and Neil trading verses on Dylan's 1974 track "Forever Young".
Other highlights included Neil joining Norah Jones for his "Don't Be Denied" and My Morning Jacket for a wonderful version of the CSNY song "Helpless". Neil also teamed up with Metallica for a beefy version of his Buffalo Springfield rocker "Mr. Soul".
Roger Waters and Neil Young were fresh from playing two weekends at Coachella's Desert Trip festival with Dylan, The Who, Paul McCartney, and The Rolling Stones.
Waters, who's gearing up for a major solo tour in 2017, only performed a few songs, but they included fan favorites "Wish You Were Here" and "Mother" from The Wall.
Today (Sunday, October 23, 2016) will be Day 2 of The Bridge School Benefit, featuring the same line-up. We were disappointed by the last minute cancellation of the K.D. Lang/Neko Case/Laura Veirs project. That was something many looked forward to.
But otherwise there was an embarrassment of riches.
Nils Lofgren, Cage The Elephant, Norah Jones, and Jim James/My Morning Jacket did great, spirited sets, and then Willie Nelson, the ultimate crowd pleaser, shortly had the crowd eating cornbread crumbs right out of his hand. I had never before noticed his guitar playing, but he had a clean, crisp style all his own.
Dave Matthews (with Tim Reynolds) and Metallica had large fan contingents in the crowd. Dave and Tim, one has to admit, are good guitarists, although their music is very middle-of-the-road. I enjoyed the massive 2003 Dave Matthews Band concert in New York's Central Park, especially a guest turn by Warren Haynes on Neil's "Cortez the Killer". (Can anybody please tell me why The Dead is playing with John Mayer instead of Warren Haynes?) I've never been a huge Metallica fan (the last time I saw them was in 1992 in Oakland, between Ice-T's Body Count and Guns N' Roses) but was pleased they gave shout outs to both Thin Lizzy and The Clash by covering "Whiskey In The Jar" and "The Clampdown". Any time Phil Lynott and Joe Strummer get some love, that's a good thing.
The night was capped off by Neil with Promise of The Real, ending with a grand finale featuring practically everyone on a searing "Rockin' In The Free World".
Some Neil fans may have missed not having Crazy Horse around, but Neil's current band, The Promise of The Real, featuring two of Willie Nelson's sons were great with him, particularly on harmonies, such as on "Out On The Weekend".
The concert started at 3 pm and ended just after midnight. That's nine freakin' hours! Departing fans were totally spent as crawled back to their cars, as if they had been performing themselves.
A great concert, for a great cause.