Neil Young thrills with opening acoustic set

Neil Young fans were in heaven when he opened his show at WaMu Theater last night with an 11-song acoustic set of classic songs, including "Heart of Gold," "Love Is A Rose" and "A Man Needs A Maid," all from the '70s. The boomers loved them.

He sang "From Hank to Hendrix" as the opening song, drawing a cheer for the hometown hero: "Here I am with this old guitar, doin' what I do."

The WaMu may not have much charm — it's the cavernous Qwest Field Event Center, after all, with some heavy curtains and lots of chairs dropped in — but the acoustics were fine. The set was low-key, with Young going from guitar to piano to organ, even banjo. He made it feel intimate, especially when bantering with the crowd.

"Look at mother nature on the run, in the 21st century," he sang ("After the Gold Rush"), another classic line that got a rise from the big crowd.

Pegi Young and her versatile three-piece band opened the show with an easy-flowing, sweetly played and sung set of eight songs — mostly from her new, self-titled solo album. Fans probably hoped husband Neil Young would join her at some point but never did.

The group, gathered near center stage, looked small on the big stage, which was crowded with instruments (including a psychedelic colored grand piano) and Neil's usual assortment of odd props: a cigar-store Indian, large oil paintings, movie-set-style klieg lights and big letters scattered on the back wall, spelling nothing but nonsense.

Pegi Young's simple set was in contrast to all that stage business, and made her performance even more charming.

Neil Young's acoustic set followed, and after another intermission, electric Young and band were scheduled to close the show.

Patrick MacDonald: 206-464-2312 or