Neil Young Alone and Acoustic at Hard Rock Live

Restless artists are practically like chameleons — changing their style and stance with each new outing to keep their fans guessing. Bowie, Byrne, and Prince are the most obvious examples, but Neil Young ranks as the all-time champ of transformation. He's so prolific that critics have practically forced themselves to invent new genres to keep pace with his various mutations.

Since starting his career some 45 years ago with the Squires — prior to his segue into the Mynah Birds with Rick James, then his tempestuous role in Buffalo Springfield with longtime sparring partner Stephen Stills — Young's wandered freely into a variety of genres, sampling them for a time and then moving on. His on-again, off-again alliance with Crosby, Stills, and Nash and the band Crazy Horse notwithstanding, he's etched himself as a country-rock crooner, a godfather of grunge, a techno oddball, a rockabilly raver, a brassy blues belter, and, ultimately, a sure-footed, rockin' singer/songwriter.

It's the latter category that's spotlighted on this current tour, as the 65-year-old Canadian revisits his vast catalog. Sans backup band and wholly on his own, he nimbly shifts from guitar to keyboards as accompaniment for the plaintive yelp characterizing his fragile singing style. His scowling visage may actually mellow during this rare, intimate evening.

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Lee Zimmerman