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Monday, August 13, 2012

Concert Review of the Moment: Albuquerque, NM - Neil Young & Crazy Horse, 8/3/12

Billy, Poncho, Ralph & Neil
Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Albuquerque, NM, Aug 3, 2012
Photo by Steve Snowden/Getty Images North America
(Click photo to enlarge)

The Neil Young & Crazy Horse Concert Review of the Moment is from Albuquerque, New Mexico on Aug. 3 by Hal:
I was really excited to see the opening show of the tour and was expecting to be surprised no matter what, having loved the "Horse Back" jam streaming at, having had mixed feelings about the concept on Americana, and having hopes that the new material that Neil wrote after the Americana sessions broke his writer's block might turn up. I hadn't quite realized that the last time Neil had played live with Crazy Horse was the final leg of the Greendale tour in early 2004, which was also the last time he'd played in New Mexico (and an incredible show it was). That seemed like half a lifetime ago.

I just couldn't have dreamed up a better performance than this one. "Love and Only Love" was a powerhouse and Neil's lead guitar was like an unleashed force. The second song was the best version of "Powderfinger" I've ever heard, just heartbreakingly beautiful and passionately played.

And then the new stuff started: "Born in Ontario" an incredibly good-natured bounce, and the repeated "...Ontario" was like a good-trip inversion of the bad-trip classic "...four dead in Ohio."

Unbelievably things went up another notch. "Walk Like a Giant" was overwhelming, with a whistled (!!) opening riff and searching, questing, questioning lyrics about reaffirming the legacy of the '60s and mourning "how close we came" that put it on a level with "Thrasher," "Ordinary People," and "Days That Used to Be." Easily one of the greatest songs he's written in years, with more genius lead guitar and a perfect Crazy Horse vehicle. It went on forever and ended with a series of deafening T-Rex giant stomps.

Then a beautiful acoustic interlude, "Needle" and a gorgeous, happy, nostalgic new tribute song, "Twisted Road," which namechecked hearing "Like a Rolling Stone" the first time, hearing the Dead on the radio, and playing a venue where Roy Orbison had played. And then the gorgeous unreleased 1981 song "For the Love of Man" (also known as "I Wonder Why") that's about the sorrow and love of having a disabled child.

And then yet another electric Crazy Horse epic, "Ramada Inn," a sprawling portrait of both sides of a marriage that rivals "Walk Like a Giant" for the title of most brilliant new song. Absolutely great stuff the likes of which we haven't heard since at least Sleeps with Angels.

Killer versions of "Cinnamon Girl" and "Fuckin' Up" (with Crazy Horse as tight and as loose as I've ever heard them, with Poncho literally kicking a grinning Neil in the rear end occasionally). Then ANOTHER new song about a girl "looking for a good time," apparently titled "Psychedelic Pill." Just when things couldn't get more delirious, "Mr. Soul" and a celebratory "Hey Hey, My My" with everybody singing along.

The encore was a blistering punked-out version of "Jesus' Chariot" (aka "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain") that made the Americana version seem positively limp and by-the-numbers in comparison. And finally a bleary "Roll Another Number" with bright green ganja lights to close things out, and then Neil gave a shout out to Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos and Las Cruces.

One of the greatest times I've ever had it my life. I think it was a challenging show for casual fans who hadn't fathomed the perversity and unpredictability of Neil Young. If they were expecting a nostalgia-fest or a run-through of Americana or a tour of the greatest hits, forget it, and a fair number of people drifted away before the concert was over as the long, intense, unfamilar new songs rolled out, most ending with a prolonged feedback and noise coda. But for a hard-core Neil Young & Crazy Horse lifer, it was the end of a long drought and Christmas in August. Fantastic new songs, Crazy Horse playing better than ever, Neil Young in a great mood and claiming the World Heavyweight title for most lyrical, inventive, scorching electric guitarist alive, Old Black just spitting fire.

Don't miss this tour.


Thanks Hal! Glad you enjoyed show and we're looking forward to seeing The Horse whn they head to our neck of the woods later this Fall.

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At 8/13/2012 08:19:00 PM, Blogger Sandy Horne said...

Hal, I was there that night. Can I please have your concert review and say it was from me????? haha Thanks for putting that astonishing experience into actual words!!!

At 8/13/2012 09:25:00 PM, Blogger Sandy Horne said...

Oopps. I wasn't there. I was at Red Rocks!! geezz...

At 8/13/2012 09:31:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

Thinking your mind was my own in dream.....

Great review, c'mon Cleveland get here....and there and to your house


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