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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Video of the Moment: "Cortez, The Killer" - Neil Young & Crazy Horse @ Warsteiner Hockeypark, Mönchengladbach, Germany - 2014)



The Video of the Moment is "Cortez, The Killer" from the concert Neil Young & Crazy Horse on 2014-07-25, Warsteiner Hockeypark, Mönchengladbach, Germany.

Scotsman comments:
I just came across this youtube video of Cortez The Killer from 2014, and I think you would all enjoy watching it. It's with the Billy-less version of Crazy Horse (so, not really Crazy Horse, but still a powerful band with another great bass player). And I'm sure some of you here were in the audience that night and will enjoy hearing this again. It's great to see Rick Rosas in action, though unfortunately in one of his last live performances with Neil.

In particular, check out the guitar solos between 9:00 and the end of the song (the last 4 minutes or so). This is when the song really takes off. And it features some of the very best guitar playing I have heard from Neil in the last 5 years.

And in 2014, Neil had already started to cover up his own musicianship with "extra stuff" (in this case, not orchestras or choirs or extra guitarists or record booths, but backing vocals wailing away over his lead guitar). Now, I generally liked the backing singers on this tour, but in this case the song really takes off when they let Neil play the lead part unaccompanied.

It's often that way. For me, Neil has never been a stereotypical jamming guitarist, trading licks or contributing to an intricate collage of sound; he sounds best when he's playing a old-school solo, the centre of attention. With the band being the rock-solid foundation for his instrumentals, a furnace for him to rise out of.

This is what Neil Young does. With nothing there to cover up his playing, he's given a choice for the song to either pathetically collapse or to head for the stars. Be great or be gone, as David Briggs said. And nine times out of ten, this "do or die" tension is the catalyst for the song to ignite into something truly awe-inspiring. Just listen to the blend of serene beauty and ugly viciousness in his guitar playing, the instinctive and dynamic interplay between Ralph's drumming and Neil's guitar, with the raw chest-pumping power of Poncho's guitar driving the song along.

For a few years now, Neil has struggled with Cortez. The versions with the Electric Band in 2007/2008 tended to fall a bit flat. On the Alchemy tour with the Horse, the arrangement never really came together. It was almost as if the band had somehow forgotten how to play the song, everyone on a different page to each other. And the rare POTR versions in 2015 seemed to go on forever without Neil's playing ever really igniting; treading water. Without either Poncho on guitar or Ralph on drums, the chemical reaction doesn't happen, the test tube doesn't explode (which is what we all wanted to witness in chemistry class, wasn't it?). The magic doesn't happen.

But here in 2014, it all came together. Neil's guitar playing takes us to the moon and back, and the story of Cortez chills us to the bone. And on an emotional rollercoaster like Cortez, what more could you possibly ask for?

Scotsman.
Thanks Scotsman! Great suggestion and thanks for sharing.

As others have suggested, only Neil could capture the majesty of ancient empire, the greed and barbarity of the conquerers, and make it rock with soul. And it should be noted how well "Cortez" fits into the time traveling Neil Young's New Album "Hitchhiker".

More on Neil Young Lyrics Analysis: "Cortez The Killer".

cortez-the-killer.gif

More concert reviews of Neil Young & Crazy Horse on 2014-07-25, Warsteiner Hockeypark, Mönchengladbach, Germany. Also, see Europe Summer 2014 Concert Tour .

More on the late, great Rick "The Bass Player" Rosas.


Rick Rosas: 1949 - 2014
Liverpool, England - July 13, 2014
Photo by Paolo Brillo


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10 Comments:

At 9/06/2017 10:43:00 PM, Blogger ForeverYounger said...

Not really Crazy Horse proper w/o Bill Talbot......
(I know, Not REALLY CrazyHorse w/o Danny Whitten either)
But Holy Crap! Rick Rosas has been gone over 3yrs already? wow. sad how time waits for no one.

 
At 9/06/2017 11:53:00 PM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

What can you say? A very different feel from most of the versions I've heard, but very, very good. It seems to me that the lead guitar is very Greendale like. Interesting sound.

A Friend Of Yours

 
At 9/07/2017 02:49:00 AM, Blogger KONWAKITON said...

KEYWORD --- BRUCE PALMER --- CASE CLOSED

 
At 9/07/2017 02:55:00 AM, Blogger KONWAKITON said...

PROMISE OF THE REAL --- LATE SHOW CBS --- 9-5-17 --- LOOKS LIKE SOME OF NEILS SHOWMANSHIP HAS RUBBED OFF ON --- LUKAS NELSON --- ALMOST SOULFUL ??? --- NEIL WAS A NO-SHOW --- HES PRACTISING WITH CSN FOR THE FARMAID SHOW ...

 
At 9/07/2017 05:14:00 AM, Blogger joe lookout said...

too slow, a bit tedious, and choir has got nothing to do with it.....

best versions to me: Zuma original and the one of Live Rust (with that kinda reggae final)

 
At 9/07/2017 07:19:00 AM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

Foreveryounger: Yes, I mentioned that it wasn't strictly Crazy Horse without Billy, though still a good band. All of Neil's bands with Poncho on rhythm guitar sound great. As Niko Bolas said: "He's the glue...(without him), it falls apart". I'm always a bit disappointed when Neil does a project without Poncho, because he contributes so much and always pushes Neil musically to give that extra 10% in his performance. He's the most important sideman that Neil has, second only in stature to the late David Briggs.

Joe lookout: Cortez is supposed to start slow and sparse, because that's the part of the song when he is still "dancing across the water", before the bloodbath; It's only near the end of the song that the massacre occurs, and that is when the musical fireworks start.

In general: For me, the absolute best live versions of Cortez are from 1991 on the Ragged Glory tour. Most versions from that tour feature some of the most razor-sharp and soulful guitar playing of Neil's entire career, with the backdrop of the Gulf War clearly inspiring the very dark, very focused performance (Cortez would be followed in the setlist by another "invasion" song, Powderfinger). Those 1991 versions also start slowly and calmly, gradually building up from a serene opening to an intense terror-filled guitar explosion at the end of the song. I love it when a Neil Young performance builds in intensity, rather than starting on one level and then staying there throughout. There are some great versions from 1976 and 1996, as well.

So if anyone wants to hear Neil's led guitar playing at its absolute best, pick a random bootleg from mid February-April 1991 and listen to Cortez The Killer. I know that Neil and the band also hold these versions in very high regard.

The Live Rust version is alright, but on this song I tend to prefer the more intense and moody versions where he "gets serious" and cuts through to our hearts with his guitar playing.

Scotsman.

 
At 9/07/2017 10:26:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@Scotsman..... I was blessed to see the Ragged Glory tour twice. The first night was April 9th in Portland OR. and two nights later in Seattle WA. on April 11th, and both shows were exceptional on every level. The sound was memorable in it's intensity. Not just loud but penetrating. The Horse and Neil seemed connected musically, but also spiritually as well. It was like they were one cell swimming up stream against the currents of the times with intention, focus, and determination. Those are two shows that validated the power of music to move mountains and connect to something greater than the individual parts to create something that transcended entertainment. Both nights provided a perfect example of non violent protest with intensity and passion. Not to mention four individuals playing completely in the moment as a single entity with a united spirt of confidence and purpose. For me these shows were a transcendent moment in my life and the impact resonates within me to this day. Amazing!!!

Peace.

 
At 9/07/2017 10:32:00 AM, Blogger joe lookout said...

@Dan: lucky you!

 
At 9/08/2017 08:24:00 PM, Blogger Richard Siciliano said...

Regarding the loudness of that Ragged Glory tour, I've been to 300-400 live shows in my 47 years, including seeing bands like Slayer and Mettallica in their heyday, and NONE of those shows have equalled the loud intensity of what i experienced at the Providence Civic Center in February of 1991.

Social Distortion, Sonic Youth, then Neil & The Horse......that was 3-4 hours of the loudest shit I have ever heard. Seriously, you could almost see the sound waves shaking in front of you. My buddy's girlfriend, a lovely Deadhead hippie chick who was expecting "Heart of Gold" and "Old Man", had to leave the arena halfway thru The Horse's set because it was too much for her! Blazing sound......

 
At 9/09/2017 04:06:00 PM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

Thanks Dan, thanks Richard! Always great to hear about these 1991 shows. They were so good that the tapes sound good at any volume!

Scotsman.

 

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