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Sunday, January 01, 2023

NEIL YOUNG ARCHIVES TIMELINE CONCERT OF THE HOLIDAYS: w/ Crazy Horse @ Cal Expo, Sacramento, CA - 9/16/1996

Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse 
Cal Expo, Sacramento, CA on 9/16/1996  
(image via Sugar Mountain)


A new Neil Young with Crazy Horse concert from Cal Expo, Sacramento, CA on 9/16/1996 is now streaming on Neil Young Archives as the Timeline Concert of the Holidays.

First, a note from John Hausmann via NYA:

The show before [Sacramento] is The Gorge, which Jarmusch shot for Year Of The Horse.

The following show is the last show of the tour but the Horse is showing no signs of being ready to head back to the barn. The encore has 5 songs and 50 minutes. Unfortunately there was a tape change during Rockin’ In The Free World and the recording is missing all the verses and choruses. I have inserted a show from Canandaigua/Utaʼnaráhkhwaʼ, New York a month earlier (8/18/1996) for the missing sections. It works pretty well segueing into the NY show. Not as smooth going back to the ending of Sacramento but I think it’s a good solution for a tour timeline release.


(image via Sugar Mountain)

From Old Grey Cat:

On a fair summer’s eve that saw temperatures dip into the 60s, Neil Young and Crazy Horse lumbered like giants onto the Cal Expo Amphitheatre stage in Sacramento and laid down an epic set before a sea of empty seats. 

They were on tour in support of Broken Arrow, an album-long meditation spurred by the death of longtime compadre David Briggs, but—small surprise—the mournful nature of the music failed to capture or reflect the zeitgeist of the mid-‘90s. Many critics dismissed it out of hand. (What becomes the “godfather of grunge” when grunge is all but done?) This night was the penultimate stop of the tour’s U.S. leg, which consisted of 27 shows over 40 nights. In the following weeks, Neil and Crazy Horse performed at Farm Aid and Bridge Benefit 10, and then kicked off the tour’s Canadian leg on October 22nd.

In any event, the 14,400-capacity amphitheatre—which shut down for good following the 1997 concert season—was the center of much debate throughout its existence, as everyone in the region could hear the goings-on, not just patrons. As a result, the city’s noise ordinance called for concerts to end by 11pm during the summer vacation months and 10:30pm in September and October, lest schoolchildren’s sleep be disrupted. (I actually don’t know the reason why, that’s just my guess.) But Neil and the Horse blew through the cut-off time and ended the night some 40 minutes later, two and a half hours after their set’s start. A predictable outcry from residents resulted, including from at least one city official: “I heard that concert as if it was in my bedroom,” complained councilman Steve Cohn, who lived in east Sacramento.

 Sacramento Bee, 9/18/1996

As evidenced by the “timeline concert” the Neil Young Archives shared on Christmas 2022, however, those inside the venue were treated to a glorious, guitar-first show accented by thud-thick chords, winding solos and what I like to call “cacophonous zen.” The show opens with a raucous “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” and features a smattering of the radio-friendly classics some fans always expect, including “Comes a Time,” “Heart of Gold,” “Sugar Mountain,” “Cinnamon Girl” and “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Also on tap: What Sacramento Bee music scribe J. Freedom du Lac dubs “loose and lengthy jams,” such as the moving meditation of “Slip Away” and gale-force storm that is “Like a Hurricane,” plus both “Cortez the Killer” and “Danger Bird,” and a rendition of “Tonight’s the Night” that’s for the ages. Yet, to quote du Lac again, “Instead of coming off as self-absorbed, Young and Crazy Horse sounded song-absorbed.”

(image via Sugar Mountain)


From Tom on Sugar Mountain:

I've been fortunate to have seen a couple hundred Neil shows over the past 45 years. After all those shows, some blend together and some stand out. This was one of the stand out shows. Cal Expo was a seated outdoor field on state fairgrounds flanked by two long sets of low bleachers. I ended up on the field10-15 rows back and it was so loud. This evening Crazy Horse worked through a good main set with Broken Arrow highlights Big Time & Slip Away, the electric Pocahontas, a rare outing of Changing Highways and a Like A Hurricane finale complete with destroyed guitar strings and candle wax offerings to Old Black. But then we got a really long encore.

On some nights, after Crazy Horse has playing for about 90 minutes, a magic switch gets flipped and they start playing with their subconscious brain and everything gets fluid, loose and just perfect. This was one of those nights. The nearly hour long, 5 song encore was played without any breaks outside of a brief "How You Doin'?" before the Tonight's The Night closer. Listen to the unbelievable transition from Dangerbird into Rockin' In The World. It was a surreal, shambolic experience.

After this show, Sacramento changed the rules for nighttime shows at Cal Expo. This paragraph from the Sacramento Bee summarizes the show better than I can,

"Councilman Steve Cohn said he proposed the changes to the city noise ordinance after hearing numerous complaints from residents, including many that came in after a loud Neil Young concert on September 16 that ran about 40 minutes past the current curfew. 'I heard the concert as if it was in my bedroom' said Cohn, who lives in East Sacramento. 'That's unacceptable and we have to figure out a way to make sure that doesn't happen again.'"

Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse 

And a rather spectacular cosmically cataclysmic conclusion to "Hurricane" as described by Dave Sigler in a review in Broken Arrow Magazine/NYAS: November, 1996 #065 all with hot candle wax poured onto Old Black while Neil skates about the stage in pools of molten wax?!

Broken Arrow by NYAS: November, 1996 #065

by Dave Sigler 


"How could they top this?", indeed was the question that we now know the full answer. 

Broken Arrow by NYAS: November, 1996 #065   

photo by Steve Babineau

Also, see Neil Young Archives: Complete Listing of "Timeline Concerts of the Week" + UPDATE: NYA Subscriber News.

Here is a listing of all of the Neil Young concerts on the NYA Timeline.


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At 1/03/2023 08:32:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

Dangerbird from this show is one of my favourites from Year of the Horse.

I remember (from the audience tape) that this show sort of took off towards the second half, after a so-so start. It has a powerful Like a Hurricane and a seriously gutsy Rockin' in the Free World, so it's unfortunate it's partially missing from the tape. But I'm getting overly picky, of course.

I haven't listened to it all, yet, but I have no doubt my fellow Crazy Horse fans will adore this one.


At 1/04/2023 12:46:00 PM, Blogger wsanjose01 said...

IWT. Met 2 Chico friends for pre show bbq at a nearby park. Fun times. Back in the spring were all those Pillar Point OPL shows. I love a good Hey Hey My My opener. Sets the din right.

At 1/05/2023 11:29:00 PM, Blogger wsanjose01 said...

There was a first opener. A gentleman w 3 names played a dobro silver guitar, solo. I cant remember his name but I bought the CD. The stage was so dark. Just the candlelight. Crank into Hey Hey . I never knew till today they stopped shows there in 1997. The Dead played there regularly. I met Bill Graham there. He would run around in his golf cart of course everyone was terrified he had a reputation. Lol


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