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Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Cortez The Killer" Video & Review of the Moment: Neil Young & Crazy Horse in Ottawa, 11/24/12

"Cortez The Killer"
Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Ottawa - 11/24/12

This video of "Cortez The Killer" pretty well captures classic Neil Young & Crazy Horse at their most sublime.

As mentioned earlier, judging from videos and review comments, last night's Ottawa concert seems to be a tour highlight.

From a review of Ottawa: Neil Young & Crazy Horse Concert Reviews - 11/24/12 by Bill:
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Ottawa Scotiabank Place (a.k.a. The House That Greed Built): 24 November, 2012

Just got off the iPad exchanging e-mails with Josée about Cortez The Killer (I couldn’t resist pulling out the Washburn to vamp on that lead melody, even though we put Miro, our parrot to bed moments earlier)…

Flakes of snow persisted throughout the day here for Neil’s return to Canada’s capital but the show warmed up everyone who managed to make the trip way out west to an arena built in the middle of nowhere, with echo-ey sound.

We arrived late for the Patti Smith set, but settled in to our seats just as Smith slipped into a brilliant, loving homage to Prairie Wind. Her intro to Fight The Power almost had the place crackling; a set-ending Gloria had folks up and down but curiously ground to an understated halt. Whatever. Patti gave it her All and that’s saying something for anybody in his or her mid-60s. She rocked!

The end of her set precipitated the beginning of the next phase: a curious mélange of white-coated lab techs with yellow-safety jacketed manual labourers (that’s how we spell the word up North) meandering around, trying to act with purpose but blundering their way around a pantomime of Main Act set up.

It was hilarious, particularly when the Einstein-ian Protagonist with ridiculously wild white hair and specs actually injected more Chaos to the proceedings than necessary. My buddy Mark got the joke immediately, having seen the Roadeyes in 78, while I was transfixed with this Brechtian Theatre. Einstein came back after the main set to inject even more confusion among the techies, trying to shut the show down. Reluctantly, he demurred and a memorably short take on “Roll Another Number” ended the proceedings.

It was totally cool to see the Boys (Neil and CH) slip into sight on stage Right, almost lost in the crowd of techies for the rendering of Our National Anthem. Anne, my wife, and I were on our feet once we saw The Boys – the fact that they were playing our country’s anthem was a distant second reason for staying on our feet. But since when did Poncho learn ALL the words to O Canada? Good for him! Thanks, Poncho!

Last time we saw Neil at the Scotiabank was the Living With War tour with CS&N (c’mon, folks, that was Neil’s tour, not a CSNY tour) but we had seat in Row One right in front of Spooner Oldham. This time, everything in the floor was standing room – except for those with Deep Pockets for the backstage pass seats. So we were second row up, more or less at centre-ice and the Giant Mike was pretty much a bugaboo most every time Neil was singing.

Frankly, not a problem. I was in the nosebleeds of Maple Leaf Gardens for the solo tour in 1983 not to mention way off in the bleachers for CSNY at Varsity Stadium in 1974, and it’s simply a distinct pleasure to be in the same room with Neil… in other words, on this night, as far as the sightlines went, We Got Over It.

Okay – the real downsides: sound was not that consistent; it was hard to hear the vocals sometimes and Poncho was not always apparent in the mix. Bass and drums always seem to Rule in such concerts - the stunning Knopfler/Dylan show we saw in Montreal a scant eight days earlier was no exception. Had to feel sorry for Molina, though, boxed in behind his drumkit between giant amp crates all night – or maybe he likes it that way? His vocals – when they came through – were right on the money, all night.

The brutally long extro to Walk Like A Giant was simply – as Anne perceptibly commented during the Onslaught – just noise. Corollary of this is that for the five or six minutes that we endured that “ending”, they could have substituted something else from the Crazy Horse back catalogue elsewhere in the set. That said, during Giant, Neil whipped up some stunningly sublime lead licks that in and of themselves were worth the price of admission.

What the hell was that impromptu stuff at the end of Fuckin’ Up all about? It seemed like a bit of an Inside Joke that never became fully apparent, but then you could say the same about Neil’s carping about Picasso on Drifting Back…

The three-song acoustic interlude works brilliantly – during “Singer Without A Song,” a young woman with a guitar case wandered from stage right to left and then back again, bringing a bit of a Greendale feel to the proceedings, aimless though the stunt appeared to be… and who was that woman anyway? They should have rolled credits on the video screens… we scampered out of there before they had a chance to run them if they did… Oh! While we had binoculars to home in on the folks onstage, I did glance up a few times at the video screens: the big thing to note is the insertion – in ghostly snippet-fades – of Archive clips. Love to see that on a DVD from this tour some time down the road…

More was to come after the acoustic set, of course, as the setlists from previous shows told us. But Cortez? Man, that was a Huge surprise insertion and it worked perfectly with the pace of the show. Last time I heard that live was in Ottawa’s Civic Centre in 1986 (I missed the 96 show) and this one tonight was absolutely the best version I have ever heard in my life…. It totally made the concert complete for me.

Bottom line – and this is for all the fans in the few US cities left on this tour, in Oz, NZ and Europe: like JJ Cale says in 13 Days: “when we come to your town, come see us if you can.”
Thanks Bill! Glad you enjoyed the show and sent us a report.

More on Ottawa: Neil Young & Crazy Horse Concert Reviews - 11/24/12.

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At 11/25/2012 06:22:00 PM, Anonymous Sandy Horne said...

Oh that was just a wonderful version of Cortez! Great job Poncho! I know the set list is "set" (hum.... maybe that is why they call it a set..), but it has been fun to see what they are coming up with for encores. I have to say, I would have never guessed Farmer John!

At 11/25/2012 11:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Last nights concert was epic..Crazy Horse as vibrant and relevant as ever...maybe more so. There were plenty of people running for the exits during Fuckin Up. There were lots if people complaining in the parking lot. I heard one guy in disbelief that Neil didn't play anything from his latest album, Le Noise!!

Back in '84 when I was on an absolute high from seeing Neil for the first time, relishing the memories of Motor City, and Are You Ready For The Country, people all around me were vowing never to see Neil again, after this 'Country Crap' Hey Hey My My!

Fine by me I thought, Neil may piss off enough people that before long I can see him in a nice small club venue.

30 years on and at all points in between, it has always been the same. People walking away griping that they didn't hear Harvest Moon. Or RITFW. Or Heart of Gold.

But the Rusties grow in size and strength. For everyone that doesn't 'get it', there is one who does, and becomes a devoted lifelong fan.

Steve in Ottawa

At 11/26/2012 03:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I look forward to walking beside you Steve as we journey through with Neil...I got your back...

thank god neil didn't come to ottawa with greendale...or the shocking pinks...

Ottawa crowds are notoriously lame, and the group around me should have been checked for a pulse mid way through the show.

we can only hope that we can see an electric NY show at the NAC...or better yet, Barrymores LOL

At 11/27/2012 02:19:00 AM, Blogger romat73 said...

Great comment Steve! For 20 years I am also repeatedly amazed by the stray vocal audience member who not only is oblivious to whatever Neil's new album & tour are about, but are also clueless to what Neil has been doing for 40 years now. They either expect a greatest hits jukebox, or they complain an epic guitar solo is "too long", or they wander into an intimate acoustic show and yell "rock n' roll!" thru half the show. I mean they like Neil I guess, but they haven't been paying much attention it seems.

At 12/01/2012 10:39:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.


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