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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Walk Like A Giant": It's Just So Huge

"Walk Like A Giant"
Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Philadelphia, 11/29/12
Photos by thrasher
(Click photos to enlarge)

Without a doubt, "Walk Like A Giant" was one of the highlights of Neil Young & Crazy Horse's 2012 Alchemy tour.

Video camera inside Neil's Amp
Photo by Falko | Flickr )

From Music review: Neil Young goes his own way - Canton, OH - by Chad Berndtson:
“Walk Like a Giant,” the fourth song of the night, sprawled into a fuzzed-out guitar jam that simmered past 20 minutes, and included a lengthy, psychedelic outro complete with elongated chord bursts and guttural sounds that rang out like dinosaur roars in the arena.

From Neil Young in Winnipeg: Long May He Run | The Local Current Blog by Jim McGuinn:
The centerpiece of the show was the extended version of “Walk Like a Giant” from Psychedelic Pill. An untethered and transcendent Crazy Horse rode the song for over 20 minutes, with a musical quote from “Hey Hey, My My” and nearly 10 minutes of "playing the feedback" while simulating dinosaurs stomping across the plain.

From T-MAK World | Toronto's Site for Music, Movies and Culture
My personal highlight of the night was the next song - Walk Like a Giant. Some might describe it as self-indulgent, monolithic, or dinosaur rock - and they would be right. This song captures everything that made the 70's the best era for stadium rock - thunderous drums and bass setting the foundation for screeching electric guitars for over 25 minutes.

Not a typo.

Most of the song the 2 guitarists and the bassist (Talbot, Sampredro and Young) would jam in a small circle facing each other. Pearl Jam fans will immediately visualize my description because PJ also loves to jam in that format - certainly a tribute to their idol Uncle Neil. Although the band had this massive stage the vast majority of the night was spent with all four of them within a few feet of each other right in front of the drum kit. After about 16 minutes as the song appears to be over we are treated to a 9 minute coda (or outro to the song). As if teasing the audience when you thought it was over, the guitars would pick up again and continue the "finale". Young even sticks his hand in one of the massive amp prop boxes causing distortion. At this point we were four songs in the concert and 55 minutes into the night!

"Walk Like A Giant" is just huge. Too big for words. See for yourself.

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At 12/12/2012 02:11:00 PM, Blogger setlistthief said...

"Walk Like a Giant" occupies the same hallowed ground as "Cortez the Killer," "Change Your Mind," "Down by the River," and "Like a Hurricane."

At 12/12/2012 03:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah and the almost the same chord progression as your #2 and #4! Also, Into the Black, Cowgirl and Shots.

Come to think of it, he could play an entire concert in the key of A-minor, it's all one song...

At 12/12/2012 03:39:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

Don't forget "No HIdden Path"

At 12/12/2012 06:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Walk Like A Giant" blew me away both times I saw it this year (Central Park and Fairfax). The coda in Fairfax was ten times better than the Arc cd. So glad our friends in Australia and the UK will hear this show! Cheers!

At 12/13/2012 12:24:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

speaking of it being all one song....

decided to play queen's I'm in love with my Car the other night. Got online to remind myself of the chord progression.

Sure enough: Em G D C

Then I started mucking around with a couple of the songs on PP, which of course have very similar chords (eg. Ramada uses Em and G to move into each verse, with a C in there I think).

Bottom line: there are only so many usable rock chords and every combination has been used a million times. What is amazing is how so many artists make so many different sounding songs using similar chords....

"I'd rather play three chords to 10,000 people, than play 10,000 chords to 3 people"

At 12/13/2012 09:11:00 AM, Blogger setlistthief said...

Neil is a master at melody. That's why he has taken the same three chords (varying the scale, vocal phrasing, and rhythm) for over 40 years and amassed an incredibe body of work. Yes, it may be the same song, but it's not the same melody. And what's more, he can play a half-hour version of CTK (the same three chords over and over) and it never gets boring-there's a beginning, middle and end to the song.

When you think about it, rock was born from the blues: three chords and a turnaround. What could be simpler, and more sublime? Neil's just another bluesman in a long, long, distinguished line of blues players.

At 12/13/2012 09:37:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or is Neil playing much of the show without a pick. Going by the huge amount of good video coverage of this tour, it seems to me that he has to grab for pick from time to time.

I know he has played with and without on many tours depending on the song, but this time around, I could swear that its 60% no pick. Is this a new thing for him?

At 12/13/2012 10:02:00 AM, Blogger Mr Henry said...

You are correct, the majority of his guitar playing is now finger picking. He's been moving in this direction for some time now; the Twisted Road solo shows gave him the chance to greatly expand and explore this technique, while staying true to his bedrock format. I feel that it's given him more freedom in his attack and explorations.

And as setlistthief points out, "it never gets boring" because of his genius and confidence in the music and the melody. I saw Cecil Taylor play a solo concert many years back, and he never stopped playing for over two hours, yet somehow kept his improvisations and explorations totally grounded and centered. Not only did that not get boring, it was the most amazing thing I've ever heard or seen (from 20 feet away looking over his right shoulder). Neil has been moving in this direction throughout his career, especially when he plays with Crazy Horse. Whenever it seems like he's reached the top of the mountain, he sees yet another Vista.

At 12/13/2012 11:18:00 AM, Blogger jrc said...

I put the Psychedelic Pill CD in yesterday morning on the way to work, and was remembering the awesome performances of "Walk like a Giant" I saw in Boston and Bridgeport. In Boston they did this single note crescendo jam together that repeated for like 50 times, and it was mind boggling. Then when I heard it on the CD I realized that it is the sound of the GIANT's footsteps echoeing on the ground, listen to the CD, it's really pretty cool they way it's recorded, at least as the giant footstep impression. they didn't do it in Bridegport.

At 12/13/2012 11:31:00 AM, Anonymous Soldier Steve said...

I think Neils finger picking started around 87,88 with the BlueNotes tour.His playing had really come long way since then. Ramada Inn is a good example.

At 12/13/2012 11:36:00 AM, Blogger setlistthief said...

Anon @9:37: It's not just you. Here's my comment from Thrasher's "On the Rail" post:

"Neil’s not the same guitar player he used to be (or maybe I just haven’t noticed before). His playing is more fluid, the leads lighter, melodic. He tends to play without a pick, employing all five fingers on his right hand to “feather” the strings moving up and down the fretboard in a manner resembling that of Wes Montgomery. This technique has opened up his guitar playing and it’s wonderful to watch and hear."

Mr. Henry is correct in his observation that this technique was perfected during the solo 2010 and 2011 on the Twisted Road tour. Now he's adapted it to playing with Crazy Horse. I would argue that this "pickless" playing makes a song like "Ramada Inn' even more compelling with its beautiful tone and intense, melodic fills and lengthy solos.

At 12/13/2012 02:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really, I do not care if uses his pick or his fingers... After all he has been using the "no pick" technique since at least Buffalo Springfield era. And for all of the doubters, yes indeed it IS all one song-- One INCREDIBLE song with numerous subtle and not-so-subtle nuances. Whatever NY decides to do is groovy by my ears. I am not a sycophant, I only recognize absolute genius when it is apparent before my ears and eyes. NY is a survivor... I only wish that Danny Ray Whitten had also been one.


-- Eric in sunny FLA

At 12/14/2012 06:27:00 AM, Blogger SONY said...

that is a very tight and balanced redition of WLAG, and omitting the outro doesn't dimish it one bit. Here' hoping this take ends up on the Alchemy DVD.

I'd say he's walking like a giant all over this tour.

At 12/18/2012 01:31:00 PM, Blogger doc said...

like all classic Neil songs..Walk like a a grower..and a grower...and a grower.
the more I here the "album" PP the more I'm bouncing off Neil's enthusiasm,Neil's perception of what he wants to achieve in this master piece. the chord changes to the chorus are a highlight and I can only imagine how good this would sound live..I can really now appreciate what mood he was trying to achieve with the prolonged ending..and I think it goes down with the classics of Neils famous drawn out finishings..SO LOOKING FORWARD TO THE TOUR DOWN UNDER...bring it on you Crazy horse bring it on!


At 12/18/2012 10:36:00 PM, Blogger doc said...

I've walked with you as a southern man
I've walked like a giant across this land

I've felt your joy, I've felt your pain
I've seen the sky about to rain

But nothing will ever, bring me down
While ever you are, hangin around

I've seen the needle and the damage done
But tonight's the night, to have some fun

If its going to take,a psychedelic pill
For razor love, then I have the will

No mirrorball, to tell the story
I'm standing tall in ragged glory

Just some jeans and a flanno shirt
And good old black to eat my dirt!

Add some le noise up on the stage
And it's heavy peace,I'm about to wage!

Heavy peace I'm about to wage!
Heavy peace ,I'm about to wage!!

doc, a Neil tragic!

At 3/17/2013 01:57:00 AM, Blogger Marko said...

Saw Neil Last night in Geelong Australia. Outdoors. Hadn't had rain for Four months and Neil summoned up a huge down pour during Hurricane.

His guitar playing was blistering and made us impervious to the wet. An awesome display.

Keep rocking Neil you are at your prime.


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