Home / Bootleg Review: Neil Young with The Restless At The Paramount Theatre, Seattle WA 02/21/1989

Bootleg Review: Neil Young with The Restless At The Paramount Theatre, Seattle WA 02/21/1989

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Let me start by simply saying this. There are concerts, and then there are concerts.

I’ve gotta be honest here and say I’m a little reluctant to write anything about Neil Young here in the wake of the spamming and flaming frenzy that continues to this day over at my review of Neil’s controversial Living With War CD released earlier this year.

But like I said, there are concerts, and then there are concerts.

When you’ve gone to as many shows as I have over the years, there are a handful that really stand out. For me, one such night was when I saw Bruce Springsteen on the Darkness On The Edge Of Town tour at the Seattle Center Arena in 1978. Some five hours after I first entered the building, Bruce came out at 2 AM, with the house lights up and half the equipment already torn down, and played “Twist And Shout” for the fifty or so of us diehards who refused to leave.

It was just amazing.

Another such night was when I saw Neil Young at the Paramount here in Seattle in 1989. This was billed as a solo acoustic show and Neil was coming off a string of largely forgettable albums like Old Ways and Everybody’s Rocking. Most Neil Young fans remember this as the most schizophrenic period of his career.

Many were ready to write off Neil Young entirely.

So what actually transpired that night was something I will never forget. I’ve seen Neil Young numerous times, both solo, with Crazy Horse, and with Crosby Stills & Nash. And it’s always pretty much a guarantee you’re going to get a decent show. I mean when we are talking about a guy who has written as many amazing songs over the years as Neil Young has, how can you not?

But this was something else. Let me set the stage…

Like I said, this show came at a point when Neil Young’s last really great record, Rust Never Sleeps had come some ten years prior. So what those of us attending the show that night expected was nothing more than what it was actually billed as: a night of Neil Young playing an acoustic set of his greatest hits. You know? “Heart Of Gold,” “Sugar Mountain,” and the like.

And that is exactly how the show began innocently enough. There was a very nice acoustic set of Neil playing the hits, followed by an intermission. Perfect opportunity to drain the lizard and get a beer. But then something totally unexpected happened. I was about midway through my beer when I heard feedback.

That’s right. Feedback.

The same kind of feedback that takes up a full third disc of Neil’s Arc/Weld live album if you happen to own that now rare version of it.

Something was up. And it was goodbye beer, back to seat.

And for the next hour or so, Neil Young and his new band, The Restless, proceeded to completely blast the 3000 or so of us folks crammed into the Paramount out of our seats with the loudest, most blistering, and completely unannounced and unexpected set of electric (very much so) music I’ve ever had the shock to witness.

It was absolutely incredible and even more unexpected. Not only that. This was one tight ass band. Don’t get me wrong. I love the stuff Neil does with Crazy Horse. But nobody will ever accuse them of being a well-oiled unit okay? The Restless on the other hand? Sharp as a fricking razor.

And you’ve got to understand something here. Freedom, the album widely acknowledged as Neil Young’s comeback after wandering somewhat aimlessly through various genre experiments in the eighties was still some nine months away. A lot of folks had written Neil off entirely.

But on this night, Neil Young was trying on this new music for the first time. At that point the album which would eventually became Freedom was still in the working stages, and was actually going to be called Eldorado.

None of us attending that night had any idea that the album that would re-establish Neil Young as one of the all time greats was in our futures. But Neil gave us a little taste of this particular future that night. Big time. Performing yet to be released songs like the then title track of Eldorado in between glorious feedback laden takes on gems like “Down By The River.”

It was absolutely incredible.

A full on metallic assault worthy of a 15,000 seat arena in the confines of a 3000 seat theatre more suited to somebody like George Benson (and Neil played a version of “On Broadway” that night so heavy it peeled the ceiling) than to somebody like Metallica.

“Rockin In The Free World?”

Played for the very first time before an audience that night. What became one of Neil’s all-time classics was tested out on those of us fortunate enough to be in attendance that night.

So what prompted me to write about this, one of the greatest concert memories I have in a lifetime of seeing shows tonight?

Well that would be the gift dropped in my mailbox this morning from my good friend James Tolin. Don’t ask me where on earth he found this. I don’t care. But James dropped a bootleg CD of this very show in my mailbox this morning.

I didn’t even know that such a bootleg existed. Earlier tonight I called James to thank him and he said that all he wanted to know was whether the concert I have raved about for years was as good as I remember it.

Well ya know what James?

I’m listening to it right now and getting floored all over again. I’m also actually very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the recording, given how loud I remember the show as being in such a small place.

So that would be an affirmative James. And Thank You.

Like I said, there are concerts. And then there are concerts.


1. Comes A Time
2. Sugar Mountain
3. The Needle And The Damage Done
4. After The Gold Rush
5. For The Turnstiles
6. Silver And Gold
7. The Ways Of Love
8. Days That Used To Be
9. Heart Of Gold
10. Heavy Love
11. Don’t Cry
12. Cocaine Eyes
13. Eldorado
14. Box Car
15. Mr. Soul
16. Cinnamon Girl
17. Rockin In The Free World (first time ever played)
18. Bad Fog Of Loneliness
19. Down By The River
20. Hey Hey, My My
21. On Broadway
22. Tonight’s The Night

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About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, Ultimate Classic Rock, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.
  • Thanx for publishing this Tan.


  • Southern Man

    I envy the hell out of you seeing this show and your enthusiasm clearly shows in a review that was a very fun read. Don’t ever lose that wide eyed fan that is so apparent in the review. I’ve never seen Neil in concert but have always respected him as a guy who follows his muse wherever it may lead…be it all those crappy albums he made in the eighties or the classics like “Rust”, “Ragged Glory”, and now “Living With War”. Keep On Rockin In The Free World Glen…

  • Southern Man

    Thanx for the comment Southern Man.

    That show was really something else…and to get that CD yesterday from my pal James was really a nice surprise. The damn show is every bit as good as I remember it being too. I’m probably gonna have to get my burner fixed because I can already see my friends lining to get a copy…

    Thanx again for the comment.


  • Hey did I just write your name down here? How the hell did that happen?



  • Martin Lav

    I’m your friend aren’t I? Not a Rubbermonkey if you know what I mean, so hook me up!

  • Damn! I remember the show taking place but I was home (living on the counterbalance-from Seattle, you’ll know what I’m talking about).

    Cripes, I feel like an asshole for not going!!!

  • Douglas,

    Don’t feel bad buddy, nobody had a clue we were going to witness history that night. I’m just glad I was lucky enough to have been there and now I’ve got a document of that incredible show.

    Thanx for the comment.


  • Martin,

    Dude. You are my friend yes. And as your friend, I would love nothing more than to burn this for you. However, I’ve got one problem right now.

    My CD burner is fried. I’ve got no idea how this happened but I haven’t burned anything in awhile and about a week ago a buddy of mine came over to burn a Pearl Jam show we downloaded off their website. My Burner would not even recognize the drive I have it on.

    So I have to take my computer into the shop and find out whats wrong, and at the moment I’m basically too broke to do that. The only alternative is I can ask one of my friends if they’d be willing to burn ya a copy.

    Bottom line is either way we are probably looking at a considerable ammount of time (weeks at best) before I can make this happen.

    Keep me bugging me though…cause eventually I’m going to have to get the burner fixed or I’ll go through withdrawls myself.

    Oh and pssst…what trade material do you have to sweeten the pot?

    Let me know Martin.


  • Vern Halen

    I can identify just a little bit with your good fortune – I saw Neil on his International Harvesters toour back in about 1984. He played a full set of his brand of county, and then for the encore, came our with the black Les Paul and hammered a very un-country version of “Down By the River.”

    But that pales in comparison to your gig – great that you can have an audio memento of that evening.

  • Nice Vern.

    Thanx for the comment.


  • Danny

    I saw a similar show in Portland around that time. Still have the T-SHIRT! Rick Rosas was on bass and he walked up to the picks hanging from the mic, took one off and flicked it in the air like, I CAN’T USE ONE OF THESE!” looks on his face. They were playing long and hard and I quess Rosas fingers were feeling the work. Neil marched off right after that and went to the back of the stage and yelled “F@#*!” really LOUD! That show was a stunner! Nobody knew what to expect! We hung out by the buses afterwards and I saw Poncho walking to his bus. I told him not to stop lifting weights! Neil said they were thinking of changing the name of the band to the Lonesome Dogs.When he came out to his bus I yelled, “Thanks for the bones!” He waved back! I will never forget that show!