Neil Young has never been one to eschew change, and this 1983 concert certainly found him in a transitional mode. Recently signed to Geffen Records (who would later sue him for producing work they deemed insufficiently com... more »mercial), he had released Trans, an album that, with its computerized tracks and electronically altered vocals, remains one of the oddest (and more underrated) in his entire catalog. He was also touring with a band drawn from virtually all phases of his career, with bassist Bruce Palmer (from the Buffalo Springfield), drummer Ralph Molina (from Crazy Horse), guitarist Nils Lofgren (a longtime Young henchman before he joined Bruce Springsteen's group), steel guitarist/keyboardist Ben Keith (a Young accompanist to this very day), and others. Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg (whose many other credits include the Rolling Stones' Rock and Roll Circus), the concert itself is also an eclectic mix, with classic rockers ("Cinnamon Girl," "Like a Hurricane," a rousing "Hey Hey My My") balanced by three Trans selections and a mostly acoustic interlude featuring "Old Man," "The Needle and the Damage Done," and "After the Goldrush." There's even a brand new (at the time, at least) tune named after the host city. The German audience eats up every second of it, and despite the lack of bonus features, Young fans are likely to enjoy this DVD as well. And with good reason: Neil Young in Berlin is undoubtedly one of the more interesting documents from a fascinating musical life. --Sam Graham« less
"For a variety of reasons, this video is a must-own for avid fans of Neil Young. The setting is the final show of Young's 1982 European tour preceding the December 1982 release of 'Trans'. In contrast to other Neil Young video recordings, the European venue offers a minimum of crowd noise (unlike Red Rocks Live) as well as an opportunity to watch Neil and Nils Lofgren work the runway jutting into the audience. And, thankfully, we have only a few shots of audience members, often an editing nightmare threatening to destroy the integrity and impact of the performances (see 'Weld'). One also wonders if Young ever wore a tie on stage again, after watching him competing with it to pillage the six strings of Old Black on 'Like a Hurricane'. The sound quality is excellent, while the film quality is very good... spoiled by today's standard, you will notice times when the filming blurs a bit, or the camera moves too fast to manage the light. Nevertheless, there are several stunning images captured that more than make up for the deficiencies of 1980's technology. In particular is a hypnotic 'drummers-eye-view' scene during 'Hey Hey My My', looking out over Neil's back as the audience throbs to the numbers incessant driving beat. Neil's personal appearance is as 'clean-cut' as you will ever see him... quite a contrast to his overriding 'Grandfather of Grunge' image.The personnel surrounding Young, and the song selection make this video quite unique. Nils Lofgren brings an unbridled energy to the visual performance that is simply priceless. Ralph Molina, Bruce Palmer and Joe Lala are an unassuming, solid backbone of rhythm for Lofgren, Ben Keith and Neil as they trade places on a variety of instruments. Larry Cragg offers an understated banjo on 'Old Man', while Joel Bernstein adeptly manages the vocoder and synthesizer.The hard rock numbers, 'Cinnamon Girl', 'Like a Hurricane', and 'Hey Hey My My' manage to sound simultaneously clean n' dirty in classic Young style. If there is any weakness in the show, it would have to be the acoustic renditions of Needle and the Damage Done and After the Goldrush, which feel a bit strained and plodding. The cuts taken from Trans, 'Computer Age', 'Transformer Man', and 'Sample and Hold', produce a compelling flashback as we witness Young perceptively addressing the embryonic advance of digital technology into Western culture which is rapidly becoming our second nature. 'Computer Age' and 'Sample and Hold' rock out, while 'Tranformer Man' is thoughtful, and features some theatrical miming from both Young and Lofgren. Another Trans cut, 'A Little Thing Called Love', is a bouncy, effortless foray that seems out of character for the Trans LP, but nicely supplements the overall song selection for this video.The concert, and the tour, is capped off with the completely appropriate 'After Berlin', seemingly written for the moment of its performance, and not performed since. It's the only blues-rock number in the set, and Young's guitar is crisp and wailing throughout. Seeing this rare performance was worth the price of admission for the fortunate few in Berlin, and owning it is well worth the price of the video or DVD for the rest of us."
Mr Young - a master of different styles
running_man | 02/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is a welcome addition to any music library - excellent sound quality and very well photographed. The video is a documentary of the last show of the 1982 European "Trans Band" Tour (which supported the release of Neil Young's "Trans" LP), held on 10-19-1982, Deutschlandhalle, in West Berlin. The actual concert features 21 songs, with 11 of them selected for the DVD. Mr Young and his band , ( Bruce Palmer(of Buffalo Springfield), bass, Ralph Molina(Crazy Horse) drums, Joe Lala congas, Ben Keith, pedal steel/keyboards and Nils Lofgren on guitar and keyboards) play with absorbed intensity, and are very, very "tight".The highlights for me include the performances of the songs from Trans featuring the "vocoder", a device developed by Mr Young which gives his voice a mechanical/robotic tone, so that when he sings "Transformer Man", and "Sample and Hold", he sounds alienated and cold, appropriately expressing the inability of a human being to actually communicate with another human being via a keyboard or video screen. The performance of "Like a Hurricane" is out-of-this-world, and Ben Keith is special with his steel-guitar work on "Old Man".However, the best is left for last, where the song "After Berlin" is performed for the first and last time. This is a poignant song and the feeling Mr Young conveys with his singing and playing visibly moves the audience in Berlin.I highly recommend this DVD to any one who loves music"
NEIL YOUNG AND THE TRANS BAND LIVE IN WEST BERLIN
RICHARD SCOTT | BROKEN ARROW, OK United States | 03/31/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"NEIL YOUNG AND THE TRANS BAND LIVE IN WEST BERLIN ORIGINALLY RELEASED IN 1982 IS ONE OF THOSE CLASSIC LIVE NEIL YOUNG PERFORMANCES NO TRUE FAN SHOULD BE WITHOUT. ONCE AGAIN NEIL ASSEMBLES AN INCREDIBLE BAND WITH THE LIKES OF JOE LALA, BEN KEITH, BRUCE PALMER, LARRY CRAGG, JOEL BERSTEIN, CRAZY HORSE MEMBER RALPH MOLINA AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST NILS LOFGREN WHO DURING SONGS LIKE "TRANSFORMER MAN" GOES INTO A DANCE THAT MAKES HIM LOOK LIKE A REJECT FROM SOUL TRAIN!!! HOWEVER, THE MUSIC WHICH VARIES FROM SUCH YOUNG CLASSICS AS "OLD MAN", "NEEDLE AND THE DAMAGE DONE" AND AN INSPIRED VERSION OF "CINNAMON GIRL" TO TECHNO TUNES LIKE "SAMPLE AND HOLD", "COMPUTAGE" AND PROBABLY THE BEST VERSION OF "TRANSFORMER MAN" YOU'LL EVER HEAR IS AS STRONG A LIVE GIG YOU'LL EVER SEE AND HEAR NEIL PERFORM, WITHOUT CRAZY HORSE OF COURSE! IT'S WORTH THE PRICE OF THE DVD JUST TO SEE NEIL WITH OL'BLACK IN HAND ATTACKING THE BERLIN RUNWAY ON "HEY HEY MY MY". EVEN THOUGH THE VIDEO QUALITY IS A LITTLE ROUGH THE QUALITY OF THE AUDIO IS OUTSTANDING! DON'T PASS ON THIS ONE."
Not Just a Wordsmith but a Showman Too!
D. Petheram | DSM, IA USA | 05/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I know it's like old, OK. This event happened in 1982, the DVD was remastered in 2001, but I had never seen it until earlier this month (May, 2006). The money I spent for this DVD is some of the best money I have ever spent for entertainment. I can see this concert whenever I want to for the rest of my life. I am luckier than the guys in the front row on the runway. I always knew he could write music and play the guitar. I just never knew how well. His jam on "Hurricane" was phenomenal, it is the work of a master. His two synthesized numbers, amazing. "Needle and the Damage Done" was just the way I remembered it, only better than just listening to an album/CD . When Neil Young signs his name to a project, "satisfaction guaranteed." I am eagerly awaiting the upcoming release of his "Heart of Gold" DVD.
PS: I own both "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" by U2 and "Prarie Wind" and enjoy them both. I believe "Prarie Wind" should have won the Grammy, however (by a country mile). Neil Young is a journeyman and his works are a treasure.
Hands down the best Neil Young DVD
Reuben Herfindahl | River Falls, WI USA | 04/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Coming off the Trans tour, one would think this would be a medicore concert at best. Not the case. Neil mixes his 80's techno tunes Sample and Hold, Transformer Man and Computer Age, not with similar treatments of his classic songs (as he did with mr. Soul on the Trans album), but with wonderful classic renditions of Old Man and a powerful Cinnomon Girl. To top it off we are treated to a new song (Berlin) that never made it on any CD. A must have."