Forever Young ... yes, Neil's fantastic

By Russell Baillie

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So it came down to this, the sound of young England vs the sound of old man Young.

It's hard to remember a year the Big Day Out has offered a bigger mood swing or generation gap between the last two acts on the main stages.

And while the Arctic Monkeys had a reportedly impressive warm-up at the Powerstation the previous night, the young Brits never quite got up to speed and left many with an is-that-it feeling.

Perhaps playing your thoughtful new songs isn't a good idea in a festival setting.

But the mood lifted once they reached early hit I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, and then went into neatly uncharted territory on a cover of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' Red Right Hand, although it was odd to hear the relative choir boy Alex Turner in place of evil bishop Cave. But no, on the big day, those young Monkeys didn't quite cut it.

Then came Neil ...

Well, if any young person thought he wasn't the man to finish off the Big Day Out, they can go back to their Limp Bizkit collection.

He was fantastic. He transcended the setting. He gave this BDO a spirit so many others have lacked.

And despite being famously contrary, he delivered a terrific greatest hits set rather than a grand indulgence. And boy, he played guitar.

Young is from the generation that first discovered the joys of electric guitars, amps and volume - and he still plays like a man thrilled with the idea.

That was apparent right from the early graunch of Hey Hey, My My (Out of the Blue) , later on a searing Cortez the Killer, and a celebratory Rockin' In the Free World which ended the main set before Young returned for a encore of the Beatles' A Day in the Life which was the most wonderful ending to a Big Day Out. Ever.

Young wasn't all high volume though, going acoustic - and managing a spot of Dr Phibes organ - on a lower key mid-set bracket which managed to dust off the delicate likes of Heart of Gold and Old Man and still make them resonate across a very big paddock.

The moment the first chorus and high-harmony kicked in on will go down as my favourite BDO moment of all time.

With Young at its heart, this Big Day Out was right up there as one of the best.

- NZ Herald

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