Imagine four Neil Youngs each from different era of his long career singing together. Yeah, I can’t do it either, but it may be the reason that Shakey’s harmonies never quite work. After all, Young sounded just fine harmonizing with Crosby, Stills, and Nash, but I’m not sure CSNY Young would have sounded as good with the Ragged Glory Neil. But that’s the only thing that didn’t work during their happy hour show, where instead of showcasing an entire record as they usually do, they made tonight a greatest hits package. Which is not to say I knew every song, I think because it is Shakey’s greatest hits, not Young’s.
Shakey has an embarrassment of talent, an excellent army of guitars, multiple vocalists, and the drummer from Killdozer who sometimes gives up his seat to band leader Pete Kaesburg. That may be why I didn’t even notice they were missing one of their number. Matt Joyce, who does a lot of the “rock Neil” was on vacation, or living in a cabin in the woods, or something. I was too busy trying to figure out who “MJ” was to pay attention to the rest of the explanation. Anyway, his absence left some space on stage. Usually they pass the bass guitar back and forth between three of them, but tonight they brought up special guest Leslie Gavin to play on a couple songs which allowed them their “four guitar attack.” It sounded great, but I was more excited to see Leslie play for the first time after knowing her for years. For the full Shakey experience and maximum numbers on stage, they even added a few backing vocalists.
After substituting “George” for “Hank” in the Harvest Moon song “From Hank to Hendrix” Kaesberg announced early on that “this song and every song for the rest of the night is dedicated to George Jones (who passed away earlier that day).” It seems fitting since Young has always had a lot of country in him. Each of the vocalists has their charms, but certainly the closest to the real thing is Matt Appleby who could pass for the man himself at times. Kaesberg claimed that the band has decided that “Powderfinger” is the official anthem of Shakey, and they are pretty sure they have done it at every show. I’m pretty sure they’ve done it at every show I’ve been at. The anthemic singalong rocker from Rust Never Sleeps seems appropriate, and it’s certainly one of my favorites. The other great song which shows up almost every time is the clever extended simile “Hurricane.” It had been awhile since I had seen Shakey so they both seemed like old friends.