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Monday, December 18, 2017

ANALYSIS: Neil Young & Crazy Horse's August 5th, 2012 Setlist | Rolling Stone

Here is an interesting analysis of Neil Young and Crazy Horse's setlist from Red Rocks on August 5th, 2012.

From Neil Young 'Alchemy' Summer Tour: Behind the Set List by Andy Greene:
Neil Young and Crazy Horse's 2012 Alchemy summer tour was supposedly in support of their new album Americana, which featured garage rock renditions of standard tunes like "This Land Is Your Land" and "Tom Dula."

But when the tour began in August, he essentially ignored the entire thing, playing "Jesus Chariot" a mere three times and not going near the other songs at any point. Instead, they busted out tunes from their entire history, including many that had yet to even be released. Check out this video where we examine the group's setlist from Red Rocks on August 5th, 2012.

It was a magic night that featured explosive renditions of "Powderfinger," "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" and the grand finale of "Over and Over," a deep cut from Ragged Glory he hadn't touched since 1990.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Alchemy Concert Tour Reviews

Neil Young & Crazy Horse

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At 12/19/2017 04:58:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Well, hate to start things off by being negative, but personally, the 2012 tour with Crazy Horse was far and away the worst Neil Young tour of my lifetime. Simply boring and tedious sheets of noise with a degree of self indulgence not seen before or since (thankfully).

This tour shut the door for me regarding the NY & CH Live Touring combination. You couldn't pay me to watch a repeat of this tour. It bored me to tears and it took all of my resolve not to walk out of the arena. I was literally yelling at the top of my lungs towards the end of the show to "END IT, STOP IT"...but Neil just kept moving his guitar around like it was a vacuum cleaner or a magnet or something.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I truly believe I could have played some of what he was playing. There were minutes upon minutes where a legitimate note wasn't played, just pulsating feedback and distortion like a child holding an object with no idea what it was or what he was supposed to do with it.

Rant over, I love Neil Young and I think Crazy Horse is basically as good as ever, but for some reason Neil chose to showcase his and their weaknesses in 2012, not their strengths.

Also, still love The Visitor. It's a strong album...

"Take my advice
don't listen to me"

At 12/19/2017 05:19:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Topanga - well, yeah, a bit of a downer here.

But -- and you know us and knew this was coming -- but let's re-wind.

Presumably this boredom and outburst occurred during "Walk Like A Giant". So yeah, we get it. You weren't alone. There were many reports of walkouts during WLAG -- and not just for the bathroom or concessions, either. Total leave the building.

OK, yes, WLAG is not for everyone clearly, especially the casual Neil fan. But you, a longtime diehard, we would have expected a bit more tolerance here.

If you go back to our reviews of the 8+ or so concerts we saw across N America & Europe from 2012 - 2014, we were invariably on the rail and saw the whole spectacle go down. Admittedly, we can understand if you're in the rafters, WLAG probably doesn't work too well. It's performance art that needs to be appreciated up close to understand what is going to generate the howling, grinding, screeching effects.

Seriously, one of our great Neil concert experiences had to be when Neil sticks his hand inside the giant amp and starts working the feedback. See:

Anyway, back to WLAG. The song is really a symphony of Neil's career: the rise and the fall. And while the rise portion truly ascends, the downfall can be jarring -- just as it should be. So we think that folks just are not following the plot line of the song and appreciating what is happening musically, sonically, artistically.

It ain't Heart of Gold, for sure.

At 12/19/2017 06:20:00 PM, Blogger Soldier Steve said...

Ramada Inn was worth the price of admission at the two shows I attended.Cleveland & Kitchener.Walk Like A Giant on the rail was mind blowing.Hopefully the Alchemy tour gets a live CD/Blue Ray in the archives.

At 12/19/2017 06:26:00 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

Wow - for me here in Australia - walk like a giant was an absolute highlight at the gig I saw - especially the 'Dead Man soundtrack' ending!!!!

At 12/19/2017 06:31:00 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

Looking forward the Alchemy performance series album when it becomes available on the Archives site (and hopefully vinyl)

At 12/19/2017 11:22:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Well, at least we got a few responses!

I'll admit that my feelings towards Crazy Horse started changing dramatically during the Weld tour. In my mind, they are basically two different bands, the pre- Weld version which was ruled largely by solid melodic crunchy backing, and the Weld/post-Weld version ruled by a more sloppy abstract canvas following Neil's more intentionally caveman musings.

Sure, at times after '91 there have been many flashes of "my preferred version" of Crazy Horse, but for the most part, to my ears the predominant tone and vibe pales in comparison to their work through the 70s and 80s. It's just my preference--my least favorite version of Neil is when he extends (mostly pointlessly) his great songs by playing through a wall of dissonance and distortion with CH. Their amazingly fluid crunch rock of the 70s and 80s morphed into too much sludge rock and distortion in the 90s and beyond.

Hey, it's all one song, but at this point in time I certainly have my preferences. If Neil tours again, I'd prefer to see him solo or with the Promise of the Real. If he tours with Crazy Horse, I'd have to think long and hard before buying a ticket..., but of course I'd end up purchasing. If Neil's there, I'd have to be there too...

"Take my advice
don't listen to me"

At 12/20/2017 02:41:00 AM, Blogger aussierust said...

It was polarising, for sure. I caught this tour in Brisbane, Australia and it was the best live show I've ever seen. WLAG was probably the highlight. F@#$% Up was also great, and we got Opera Star to top it off. Absolutely mind blowing, ear splitting show. But I was on the rail and I agree that some of it , particularly WLAG, might have been hard to appreciate from further back.

At 12/20/2017 03:54:00 AM, Blogger Thomas said...

I really love how passionate Neil fans can have completely opposing views like this!!
For me the original Briggs mix of Weld (heard on the VHS) is maybe the best thing Neil's released!!!!

At 12/20/2017 07:45:00 AM, Blogger Shakey said...

As a huge Neil Young fan, I was so impressed with Psychedelic Pill as an album. I loved the long songs. Driftin' Back wasn't my cup of tea bit I loved the rest. I still remember the first time I listened to Ramada Inn. Beer in hand and listening at night on my patio with headphones on it immediately made me think that maybe Neil and Pegi were on the rocks. Saw the tour in Toronto with my 12 yr old son. We absolutely loved it. And I say that as someone who has seen Neil at Massey Hall twice. It was amazing to see the joy on Neil's face and the back and forth between him and Poncho was awesome. I loved this tour and would rank this show as #1 or 2 on my list of Neil shows I've been to. Which is admittedly only 4 total

At 12/20/2017 11:49:00 AM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Well, it certainly looks like I'm in the minority view here, and that's cool. It's nice to hear from other fans who find great appreciation in Neil's more "noisy and sloppy and less accessible" work.

There's no question that the Neil and CH collaboration has made some of the most powerful music ever, be it live or on record (or both). I just struggle a little bit with the fact that while Neil redundantly extends the duration of songs, we're missing out on so many great songs that could have been played. Without checking the set-lists, my memory seems to recall these shows having fewer than 15 songs played! That's just not acceptable to me...I'm just not that into ultra extended jams when some of the best songs ever written and performed remain on the bench!

I fully support Neil and his right to do whatever he wants, and I'm not one of those fans yearning or demanding to hear Heart of Gold. But again, his performances with CH in 2012 were just boring and self indulgent to me, primarily on WLAG, but really throughout the show(s) for the most part. More economical performances would have suited my tastes better, but Neil does what he does, and I'll always respect him for that...

"Take my advice
don't listen to me"

At 12/20/2017 02:58:00 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

A mate caught them in Canada in 2012 and had similar complaints - the setlists on paper were definitely shoter - in 2013 when they came here the sets were considerably longer and they were digging deep into the back catalogue with tracks from Reactor and Life coming back and others like Love to Burn making a very welcome return.

It's also worth noting Neil had only brought crazy horse out here twice before - in 85 on a joint tour with the international harvesters and in 03 on the Greendale tour

At 12/20/2017 02:59:00 PM, Blogger Richie Cruz said...

I'll take a twenty minute Crazy Horse fueled, feedback drenched version of "Walk Like A Giant" over anything that was on The Visitor. And that's not a knock on modern Neil, I loved Peace Trail. And it's not a knock on POTR, they are great live but still haven't captured true magic with Neil in a studio. I'm not knocking anyone's opinion, just giving my own.

Maybe it's just because I miss The Horse so much.....I've heard The Visitor.....Neil needs to get The Horse out of the barn.

At 12/20/2017 07:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never seen neil with crazy horse --- i have seen neil with C S N --- Altamont raceway , December 6 , 1969 --- it was a DOOZY !!! --- r.i.p. all victims of rock and roll

At 12/21/2017 05:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one area where I do quite strongly disagree with Topanga: I think the Weld tour featured the BEST, most melodic, most accomplished lead guitar playing of Neil's entire career - a tour that also featured passages of industrial style noise and feedback (though not taken to anywhere near the over-the-top levels of 2001 and onwards).

I also enjoyed the 2012 tour. I do think it was a tour that peaked early: by the time they reached Europe some of the spark had begun to burn out. But the early shows were excellent, with Ramada Inn routinely featuring some of Neil's best guitar playing in years (check out the magnificent guitar playing during the last solo of the 2013 Plenary version). There's a focused intensity to Neil's gigs with Crazy Horse that he fails to match with any other band.

Incidentally, here's Poncho talking about natural farming:

Now, I don't know anything about natural farming, but I do know that any electric Neil Young album suffers from Poncho's absence.

Happy holidays/Happy Christmas to all at Thrasher's. A pleasure as always.


At 12/21/2017 11:34:00 AM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Good hearing from you Scots.

I don't think we're saying radically different things here, as my primary point is (and has been) that the Weld tour clearly marked the beginning of a musical shift in style and tone between Neil and Crazy Horse. In retrospect, much of the Weld tour material sounds fine or good or great, but as you wrote, it started introducing us to the "industrial style noise and feedback (though not taken to anywhere near the over-the-top levels of 2001 and onwards)."

In my mind, 1991 marked a true first line of delineation where I found myself having to ignore certain aspects of their musical collaboration. Up until '91, I basically loved every minute of every Neil/CH show I saw. In '91 and beyond, the brilliance has been mixed in with the self indulgence and tedium that I struggle to connect with or enjoy.

It's certainly all preference, but the industrial style noise they started showcasing in '91 never resonated with me and likely never will. I still love the Horse, but my soundtrack will always be Live Rust, not Weld or their later live work incorporating too much dissonance and feedback.

"Take my advice,
don't listen to me"


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