On the one hand this is one of the finest live documents of a performer's work ever recorded. In fact, it may be the best live 2 disc set aside from Young's own 'Live Rust' and Eric Claptons 'Derek and the Dominos - Live At the Fillmore' release. Even without the visual imagery of the 'Weld' video, the nuances that made 'this' Neil Young the 'Godfather of Grunge' can be appreciated through the audible record alone. In particular are the extreme, even by Neil Young standards, use of distortion and feedback, especially in the extended endings of songs. Neil was even inspired by his opening act, Sonic Youth, to string together a number of these finale's into the curious, experimental 'Arc' disc. You may need to garner a taste for such voluminous summations since virtually all of the songs on 'Weld' are punctuated in this manner. On the upside, there is certainly nothing lackluster about the way Young and Crazy Horse are addressing their catalog here. It's pedal to the metal all the way.
The track selection is another story. The setlists detailed on the 'Sugar Mountain' website reveal that on their 1991 tour Young and Crazy Horse offered little variation from one performance to the next. One setlist appears to have been rigidly adhered to. What you're hearing on 'Weld' is pretty much what everyone who attended a concert from this tour heard. But one can certainly take exception with some of the songs Young chose for the shows. While most people who attend a Neil and the Horse concert probably expect to hear certain classics, such as 'Like a Hurricane' and 'Cinnamon Girl', alternate versions of these tracks are readily available on a number of releases. Had Young introduced some variation in the setlist, performances of tracks such as 'Drive Back', 'Southern Pacific', and 'Alabama', he could have filled in those relatively rare performances nicely on these discs in lieu of 'Cortez the Killer', 'Tonight's the Night', 'Welfare Mothers', and 'Hey Hey My My'. Young has such an extensive catalog that releases such as this, and even his 2000 'Live At Red Rocks' disc (both of which feature performances of 'Powderfinger' and 'Tonight's the Night'), render some tracks superfluous for Young's more dedicated fans.
What makes 'Weld' special, however, are the stunning performances of more recent Young compositions, in particular 'Crime In the City', 'Love and Only Love', 'Rockin' In the Free World', 'Mansion On the Hill', 'F*!#IN Up', 'Farmer John', and 'Love To Burn', all of which are better live (and in the case of 'Crime and the City', electrified) than their studio counterparts. It has always been the case with Young and Crazy Horse that taking off whatever polish a studio affords them, 'reducing' the band to their garage-rock sound, enhances their appeal. There is also an electrified, Jimi Hendrix styled version of Bob Dylan's 'Blowin' In the Wind', and the final encore, which Young refers to as "some more trash", 'Roll Another Number', perhaps designed to bring the crowd down from the high-decibel rush Young had rolled over them before sending them on their way.
The new numbers are nicely mixed with the older material across the two discs. It's a particularly nice compilation of Young's work for people who don't own many of his discs. It's also essential to the rabid collector, however, for the great versions of Young's late 1980's production. So while the discriminating collector may disagree with the track selections, perhaps Neil the DJ knows best. He created a 2-disc work that balances the appeal for his new and old fans alike, proving once again that his acumen on the stage extends into the marketplace.