Neil Young rolled up his flannel sleeves again Tuesday at the State Theatre. / Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune

Neil Young rolled up his flannel sleeves again Tuesday at the State Theatre. / Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune

And on the third day of Neilfest, our Canadian voyager cut loose with his set-list choices, dug in for a couple of heavy-hitting highlights, and let fly on some annoying fans in the balcony at the State Theatre on Tuesday night.

A sign of just how vast and longevous Neil Young’s discography really is, the 73-year-old rock legend was able to reinvent more than 60% of his setlist from the two previous shows in his four-night Minneapolis stand and still deliver a lot of familiar favorites for the adoring 2,180 fans. All told, 13 of the 21 songs in the 105-minute set list had yet to be played in Minneapolis.

He debuted an icy version of one of his biggest standards to kick off the show, “Cinnamon Girl." From there, he continued to pick out a lot of other songs any casual Neil fan could sing along to – but had yet to enjoy this week -- including “Pocahantas,” “Long May You Run,” “Southern Man,” “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” and “Down by the River.” It’s amazing, really, that three nights into his Minneapolis grand stand, Young still had all those classic songs in his back pocket to debut fresh for the fans going each night.

There were plenty more deeper cuts newly blended into the mix Tuesday, too. The third song in the set, 1969’s “Running Dry (Requiem for the Rockets),” was a true rarity and one of the night’s most melancholy, tender moments. Then came “White Line,” one of two tracks off the epic, guitars-blazing 1990 Crazy Horse album “Ragged Glory” that still sounded blustery and blistering on Tuesday even in the unplugged format.

The other “Ragged Glory” song choice, “F—kin’ Up,” prompted one of the two times in Tuesday’s concert when Young directly addressed the most vocal (and tiresome) fans, a few of whom kept yelling requests at him like seals barking at a trainer. He preceded the song with a few bars of “Stupid Girl,” another apparent request hollered at him from the balcony. “There’s a time for that,” he said, cutting off the “Zuma” album cut, and then he also abruptly stopped playing a few lines into “F---kin’ Up.”

“How come you’re not singing?!” he said with an irritated gesture toward a fan yelling from the balcony. Once he started over, though, the whole room sang along, filling in the “Why do I-I-I?” background parts and relishing one of the night’s rowdiest moments.

Young got irritated again three songs later, and this time the results weren’t so amusing. A minute or so into his sentimental new song, “Olden Days” – which he has performed all three nights on his psychedelically painted grand piano – another bozo in the balcony spoiled the serene moment with a loud “whoop!” Young stopped singing, threw his hands up and let out his own loud catcall to mock the fan. And that was the end of that. He walked back to his circle of guitars and launched into a rather lukewarm “Down by the River,” as if saying to the audience, “Your loss.”  

The adaptable old pro hardly phoned in the rest of the show, though. Overall another solemn, mellow and contemplative performance except for the “Ragged Glory” picks -- more akin to Saturday’s Pantages set than Monday’s Orpheum show -- the concert peaked near the end with the nostalgic, wistful gem “From Hank to Hendrix,” delivered with a visible tinge of emotion. He didn’t say anything before or after that one, but it sure looked and sounded like he meant something by playing it just before show's end.

Once again, the lone encore pick was a sweet, ukulele-plucked version of “Tumbleweed,” one of the five songs he has played all three nights seemingly as a means of using all his instruments on stage. The others included “Old King” (played on banjo), “See the Sky About to Rain” (pump organ) and the Buffalo Springfield oldie “Broken Arrow” (black grand piano).

For comparison, see the wraps from Saturday’s concert here, and Monday’s show here. A few tickets are still available for Thursday’s finale at Northrop Auditorium. Here’s the set list from Tuesday:

  • Cinnamon Girl
  • Pocahontas
  • Running Dry (Requiem for the Rockets)
  • White Line
  • Long May You Run
  • Old King
  • Green Is Blue
  • Are You Ready for the Country?
  • Harvest
  • Southern Man
  • Don't Let It Bring You Down
  • See the Sky About to Rain
  • Broken Arrow
  • F--kin' Up
  • Thrasher
  • Olden Days (cut short)
  • Down by the River
  • Out on the Weekend
  • From Hank to Hendrix
  • Heart of Gold
  • ENCORE: Tumbleweed

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