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Friday, December 06, 2013

A Neil Young Fan's Concert Story: On That Alchemy Road To Everywhere

Soldier Steve & Alchemy & TW Radio

We're always quite delighted when we hear from our dear readers and listeners.

And it always gives us a thrill to share it back to you -- our wonderful readers and listeners. Here's some mail we received from long time TW supporter Soldier Steve up in Depew, NY.
Dear Thrasher,

Here is my story and my history with Neil Young and Crazy Horse. My journey is really a long but amazing one that’s for sure. Where do I ever begin with my concerts that I have attended? I started seeing Neil Young & Crazy Horse in concert when I was 12 years old and I have been a diehard fan ever since.

Each of these shows were all different but meant so much to me, and each concert has its own meaning. Like in 9/15/86 the first time I saw Crazy Horse in Rochester, NY it was the opening show on the Rusted Out Garage tour. It was the first show I ever went to and saw Crazy Horse and it really inspired me, and by the end of the night I couldn’t wait to see my next Crazy Horse concert.

I have been to 14 Crazy Horse shows below you will find the dates and locations:

Crazy House Shows I have attended:
• Toronto Life Tour- 9/2/87
• Buffalo,NY Smell The Horse tour- 2/16/91 (Like A Hurricane & Blowin In The Wind on Weld CD, Blowing In The Wind, Mansion On The Hill, Powderfinger on Weld VHS)
• Canandaigua, NY Broken Arrow Tour- 8/18/96
• Barrie,Ontario Electric Needle & The Damage Done- 8/31/96 (On Old Black).Also Smell The Horse on this one, Sedan Delivery on Year Of The Horse CD).
• Hamilton,Ontario Halloween Show Boo!- 10/31/96 (The show that seemed to go on for days)
• Buffalo, NY – 11/10/96 (Out Of My Mind)- Buffalo Springfield song
• Vernon Downs, New York H.O.R.D.E Tour- 8/5/97 (short show but great).
• Saratoga Springs,New York H.O.R.D.E Tour- 8/10/97(change up in set list.Opened up with Slip Away then Down By The River)
• Burgettstown,Pennsylvania- 6/16/03 (Greendale Tour) Short but awesome show
• Saratoga Springs, NY -7/4/03 (Longest show of the tour with 17 songs.Blistering Show! Listen to Prisoners Of Rock & Roll.Neil says during Harmonies Fuckin’ Eagle’s Man!)
• Cleveland,Ohio Greendale Show- 3/11/04 (Highlights were Grandpa’s Interview,Be The Rain,Powderfinger,All Along The Watchtower,Cowgirl In The Sand)
• Cleveland, Ohio Alchemy Tour- 10/8/12 (first show in USA).
• Kitchener, Ontario Alchemy Tour- 11/20/12

So as you can see I have gone to numerous concerts, I have also been to 16 other shows with Neil. Solo, CSNY, Shocking Pinks, The Bluenotes, International Harvesters ,Chrome Dreams Band ,Friends & Relatives, .But I have to say the NYCH shows are my favorite. The two '07 Chrome Dreams tour is worth mentioning it was spectacular, acoustic set and electric set. No Hidden Path was worth the price of admission. The Bluenotes show was great! Ordinary People & On The Way Home highlights.

When I heard the news on Thrashers Wheat that Neil was making an album with the Horse I was blown away. Americana was great and Psychedelic Pill would follow. Two albums in '12, who would of bet that one, awesome they were out of the barn. Then came the news of an upcoming tour. Tour dates announced and Cleveland, Ohio was the show I picked to go to. Purchased two general admission tickets. My wife & I left Buffalo, NY early morning and got to Cleveland in about three hours .We've been to the Rock & Roll Of Fame a few times so we didn’t go again .Checked out the city again ,wow! What a city! By the way this was my wife's first Crazy Horse gig. I told her she was in for one hell of a night. She saw Neil with CSNY in '06 Burgettstown ,PA ,two shows in '07 Toronto, Buffalo, show in Toronto ‘08,show in '10 Albany, NY ,show in '11 Toronto, Journeys film show and recently Farm Aid 9/21/13 Saratoga Springs, NY . But never with the Horse.

We were like the first ten fans in line on one side of the arena .Got in after a long day and hurried to the rail in front of Neil's mic stand. The Alchemy stage crew started right after Los Lobos finished their set .It was very cool to witness the hard work put into the stage setup .The guitars, amps, red effects pedal, piano, mics, giant microphone with yellow ribbon, giant rust never sleeps speakers .It was something I will never forget to see from the rail the Rust Never Sleeps stage setup. Saw it on the '91 Weld tour but not from the rail.

A Day in the Life started and Neil's stage manager Eric Johnson (Jed in Greendale) was directing the amp covers to be raised up. It was really cool to hear the chains lifting the fake speakers. Then on stage ten feet from us Neil, Poncho, Billy, and Ralph appeared shoulder to shoulder with their hands on their hearts to the sound of Star Spangled Banner. The crowd erupted. Neil & the Horse singing, laughing, joking with each other. Then strapped on their guitars and launched into Love and Only Love, they nailed it; the crowd loved it.Powderfinger was next a favorite of many.My wife was blown away. Then a new song Born in Ontario, I liked it.

Then I thought it was going into Like a Hurricane, it was a new song Walk like a Giant, unbelievable power this song is. A favorite of mine to crank driving down the road. My wife didn’t care for the ten minute feedback at the end but it’s the horse and I loved it. Then No Rain, No Rain, No Rain from Woodstock into Needle And The Damage Done.Neil wearing the red suspenders like on the '78 Rust Never Sleeps tour .A new song followed called Twisted Road that is solo acoustic but electric with the horse on Psychedelic Pill, good song .Then what would come next is my all-time favorite song Ramada Inn. This song just rocks! Seeing it live brought many emotions and tears,still does every time I hear it.Neil & the Horse hammered it.Fuckin' Up was next, great version with Poncho flipping everyone in the front off. Then another new song Psychedelic Pill, good rocking' version.Hey Hey, My My, pure power and the arena went crazy.Then encore time and we got Mr. Soul and Roll Another Number. It was great to see the Horse again after eight years. I figured this could be my last show with the Horse, boy was I wrong.

My friend Tim who lives up in Toronto called me and said he had tickets for the 11/20/12 Kitchener, Ontario show. Kitchener is less than an hour from Toronto and Buffalo is about an hour and a half. I left Buffalo early Tuesday and arrived in Kitchener around eleven a.m. Small arena I noticed as I drove around it. Semi Trucks were unloading equipment, three to four buses parked, Los Lobos and Crazy Horse buses. Neil’s bus was not there yet. The arena is home to the hockey team Kitchener Rangers. I walked into the arena and watched the hockey team practice on the small ice rink in the building. Then i heard Los Lobos soundchecking, it was really amazing to be in the arena so early. I walked up some stairs and sat down behind the stage and listened and watched as they set up for the show. There were about ten to fifteen fans hanging out. I went to the restroom and tried to return to where I was and was spotted by someone on Neil's road crew hey where you going? I’m going to listen, you’re not allowed up there, I said okay and hung around still in the arena. Los Lobos played a few songs. A few rangers players came in to practice, they asked who was playing tonight I say NYCH, they say we might have to hang around for that. I ran into a few of the fans and they said they were thrown out from behind the stage. I returned to my car at about three thirty for a cold Yuengling beer. There are fans outside the buses with LP's, posters, etc for autographs. I was parked about fifty feet from the buses. It was a sunny day about 55 degrees, not bad for a fall day in Ontario.

As I’m leaning against my car I notice Neil's bus pulling in down the road. I get my phone camera out and start recording. In front of the bus is Bob Young Neil's brother driving his Cadillac. Bob waves to me as he drives by. Ben Young, Neil's son is riding shotgun in the bus, a young bus driver in his twenties. The bus pulls up next to the others and Bob Young enters the bus for a while. I finish my beer and walk towards the buses. There is a rope keeping fans from walking close to the arena and buses. We see Eric Johnson, Elliot Roberts, Ben Young, All of Crazy Horse, Los Lobos band members and Neil and Bob Young walk from buses into the arena. My friend from Toronto arrived and we had a few beers before going in arena. He talked about the previous night’s show in Toronto. He was excited to be seeing the tour two nights in a row. We got in a small line inside the arena and got to the rail in front of Neil. The arena filled in quickly for Los Lobos. It was their final show on the tour opening for NYCH until the summer tour in Europe 2013. They are a good band, David Hidalgo on guitar and vocals, a very underrated guitar player. Lots of good songs too. The crowd got into them. Then it was time for the stage setup for the Horse. Very familiar faces setting up the stage. The crowd was getting loud for Neil chanting Neil, Neil, Neil. Then the stage lit up. Oh Canada started. The arena was on their feet. Neil, Poncho, Billy & Ralph with hands on their hearts. It was so amazing to be seeing another show on the Alchemy Tour.

A month later after seeing them in Cleveland and the Horse was alive & kicking. They were having so much fun up there. They launched into Love & Only Love. Then Powderfinger with 4 guitar solos between the verse. Then Neil spoke to the crowd and the place went crazy. The Rangers were in your house, we brought the team along to play on this one. Born in Ontario and the arena erupted with noise. Neil was all smiles and says Go Rangers! Then a storm blew in, Walk Like A Giant was great to see live again. What a song, so full of power. Then No Rain, No Rain, No Rain into Needle And The Damage Done, done beautiful. Twisted Road was next, a nice version with crowd singing along. Another new song co-written with Lukas Nelson, Willie’s son. A Singer Without A Song. With Billy Talbot on bass,Ralph Molina on drums, Frank Poncho Sampedro on acoustic guitar and a girl strolling across the stage holding a guitar case. The crowd got restless during that one. But get right back into it when Ramada Inn started. A smoking' version on the tour.

I’ve heard them all on the Alchemy tour and this one Neil & the Horse are in the zone this night. Next up Cinnamon Girl, kick ass version. Then Fuckin' Up, great version with Poncho flipping everyone off. Mr. Soul was next and it lifted the roof off the arena. Then came Hey Hey, My My, the arena erupted again. Everyone singing along. Encore was Farmer John with Los Lobos. It started and Neil stopped it and restarted. I think it’s the first time that an opening band has played with the Horse. It was Los Lobos final night on the tour. It was an excellent show in Kitchener. Drove home to Buffalo in foggy conditions. Got better as I drove south. It was a long day but worth every mile. I have collected and listened to each show on the Alchemy tour thanks to a fellow rustie friend. The USA, Canada shows were special but the 2013 shows in Australia & Europe were even better. The fans their got treated to some nice ones. Dangerbird,Surfer Joe & Moe The Sleaze, Prisoner’s Of Rock & Roll, Opera Star, Welfare Mothers, Barstool Blues, Sedan Delivery, Love To Burn, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Human Highway, Red Sun. Then the tour got cancelled when Poncho broke his hand after the Oslo, Norway show. It was a huge disappointment for fans on the remaining gigs in Europe,Canada,USA. I’m sure it was even more disappointing for the Horse. Hopefully the Horse gets out of the barn soon and ends on a high note. The last show on 8/7/13 in Oslo, Norway was rocking' give the show a listen.

Thanks to Thrashers Wheat for the Thrasher’s Wheat Radio T-shirt and keeping us diehard Neil fans up to date with daily news. Also thanks to Eric & Tony in Burlington, Vermont giving us Thrashers Wheat Radio every Saturday evening at 9:00 p.m.I listen each week and post the set list to Thrasher. Thanks to Neil & The Horse for the good tunes. Wonder what 2014 will bring? A CSNY tour?, Neil solo acoustic tour? We will find out soon enough. For those fans attending the Carnegie Hall shows in NYC in January, wish I could be their. (Every Morning Comes The Sun)

Here are my other non Crazy Horse shows I've attended.My ticket stubs are posted on Tom’s excellent site. Thank you Tom.

8/30/83 Syracuse,New York
9/3/85 Buffalo,New York
8/19/88 Darien Lake,New York
6/8/89 Darien Lake,New York
3/23/00 Cleveland,Ohio
8/20/00 Burgettstown,Pennsylvania
2/25/02 Cleveland,Ohio
9/21/02 Burgettstown,Pennsylvania Farm Aid
9/10/06 Burgettstown,Pennsylvania
11/26/07 Toronto,Ontario
11/30/07 Buffalo,New York
12/4/08 Toronto,Ontario
5/18/10 Albany,New York
5/19/10 Buffalo,New York
5/11/11 Toronto,Ontario
9/21/13 Saratoga Springs,New York

Since 1983, thirty Neil concerts. It been a blast. Every concert was fantastic. Thanks
everyone for reading my story,hope you enjoyed it. Long May Neil Continue To Run!

Keep On Rockin’
Soldier Steve
NYAS #4576
Thanks so much for all of your support Soldier Steve. Really appreciate your help in keeping us up to date with the weekly playlist. And thanks for sharing your Neil stories with the Rustie community.

See you on the radio on Saturday!

Thrasher's Wheat Radio
Tune in on, Saturdays @ 9P EST



At 12/07/2013 08:30:00 AM, Blogger Long Live The Horse said...

Great story man!
I was at the Philly show on November 29th 2012 at the Wells fargo Center.
If anyone can locate a recording of that show I would be much appreciated.
Let me know.
The Horse remain a force and always will

At 12/07/2013 11:02:00 AM, Blogger tuned4life said...

I attended alot of the same shows that you have. I would love to get a recording of the 11/30/07 show at Sheas. We had front row seats. It was the first time I saw Neil do "No Hidden Path". It was the last time My wife got to see Neil. Best 4th of July I ever had was at the "Greendale" show in Saratoga in 03. We also went to Clevland "Greendale" on 3/11/04. I will never forget the black ice and all the accidents after the concert. I was in Toronto for the 12/4/2008 and 12/5/2008 shows. Never forget the drive home in the heavy lake effect snow storm. Hope Neil visits our neck of the woods in 2014. Doug S. Warsaw N.Y.

At 12/08/2013 11:02:00 AM, Blogger Lloyd Walton said...

It is interesting how some concerts resonate more in memory than do others. That's the nature of live music both for the performers and the audience. An artist can experience a tragedy just before going on then deliver the performance of his or her life, and the converse is also true.
I have seen Neil perform many times but the show that still echoes in my mind was from the Essar hockey arena in Sault Ste Marie Ontario. Something was going on that night which couldn't quite put my finger on but the overall purity if each piece was sublime....... LLoyd from Port Carling ONtario

At 12/08/2013 10:06:00 PM, Anonymous Soldier Steve said...

Send Me Your Address And I Will Send You The 11/30/07 Bflo Show. Glad You Liked My Story,Its Cool Weve Been To Some Of The Same Shows Living Very Close In WNY. Yes,Greendale On The 4Th Was Spectacular In Saratoga 2003.Cleveland '04 Driving Was Crazy Conditions,I Remember It. So Sorry About Your Wifes Passing,I Remember Reading On Here Your Posts About Her and Meeting Neil.Send Your Address To

At 12/08/2013 10:12:00 PM, Anonymous Soldier Steve said...

Send Me Your Address. I Have The 11/29/12 Philadelphia Show. Send Address To


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