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Tribute band captures the essence of Neil Young

For fans of Neil Young, The Neo Young Band is the perfect experience to recapture his music today.

The band performed at the Bell Tower on Central Avenue on Saturday night.

The act’s set is filled with Young’s hits, from ‘Heart of Gold’ and ‘Hey Hey, My My’ to his more personal songs about his Ontario hometown ‘Omemee’ and his activist songs, like ‘Alabama’ and ‘Keep on Rockin in the Free World.’

Neo Young isn’t just a cover band. Tribute acts are popular not just because they are technically proficient – and Neo Young’s troupe is certainly that – but because they embody the spirit of the act. It’s not just donning the costume and hitting the notes perfectly, there’s a sense that when you see singer Gary Pooler with his sunglasses on with Neil’s gait and posture that he is Neil.

With such a distinct voice as Neil Young had, to hear it come from Pooler is a great feat; even during breaks and introducing songs, Pooler channels Neil’s off-the-cuff style.

“Neil told his dad six years later that ‘Old Man’ wasn’t about him,’ he shares in the same mumbled, folksy way that Neil did when he told audiences about the actual old man the song is based on.
There is so much reverence for Neil Young from Pooler and the rest of the band.

On top of all that, the music was a spot-on replication for anyone remotely familiar with Neil’s music, and the band still has fun playing these songs. Neil was cheeky, after all. Pooler reminds us that at one point, Neil’s record company wanted a “real rock and roll song.” Neil, of course, grew up in the 50s and knows what a “real” rock and roll sound is.

So, in 1983, he put out “Everybody’s Rockin,’” a 50s Americana Rock and Roll album, much to the dismay of Geffen Records. You better believe that Neo Young even tapped this part of Young’s career for their tribute show. And it sounded great.

Even if you’re not all that familiar with Neil Young, Neo Young is a fun experience.

Their act shows you what kind of character Neil Young has. Over time he goes from a smalltown Ontario kid to sparring wits with music against American greats like Bruce Springsteen.
Neo Young is a worldly tribute to a worldly man.

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