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Friday, September 15, 2023

FLASHBACK: Memories of Neil Young & Crazy Horse's 1976 Europe Tour

Neil Young - Hammersmith Odeon, March 1976
Photo by Tony Fahy


Back in 2011, we published memories of Neil Young & Crazy Horse's 1976 Europe Tour by Tony Fahy -- who was at all 4 Hammersmith-Odeon, London gigs. 

Now we bring memories of Neil Young & Crazy Horse's 1976 Europe Tour in Glasgow (see Comment of the Moment: Neil Young & Crazy Horse's 'ODEON BUDOKAN') by Ron:

Compared to what was to come in future years the March 1976 Japan/Europe was quite a simple affair.

Neil would come on first and do a solo acoustic set of 8 or 9 songs, and then after a short intermission would come back with Crazy Horse for an electric set of 9 or 10 songs. The longest shows had only 19 songs and total running times of just under two hours. The entire tour was only a month long, visited only 16 cities and comprised 22 shows in total – 7 in Japan and 15 in the UK.

The performances were also very straightforward with none of the theatre that came with Rust Never Sleeps for example. For the acoustic set Neil would just walk on and sit on a chair and start playing with pretty much just a single spotlight. The electric set had a bit more lighting but was basically just four young guys playing their music for their and the audience’s enjoyment.

I was at the Glasgow show that was the last night of the tour. It wasn’t intended to be the last night, but demand for tickets in London was such that they added a 4th show there on the original Glasgow date, and bumped the Glasgow one to after the London shows. (We might not have got the film of Neil busking The Old Laughing Lady on the banjo at Glasgow Central station on the day of the show if this hadn’t happened – I think he had some time to kill).

My memories are of outstanding performances of old, recent and brand new songs, and very enthusiastic and positive audience reaction. At the time none of us knew what to expect – there was no internet then and we were dependent on musical newspapers like the NME for any information. Zuma had been released the year before, and the last time Neil had played in the UK was the Tonight’s The Night tour. I loved Zuma, and was also very fond of AFTG, Harvest and EKTIN so the acoustic/electric format and the setlist very much met with my approval. In fact if I was to go and see Neil perform today and it was the same setlist I would be delighted.

The electric set had the most impact on me at the time as I had never seen or heard performances like these before. It was very rare to get any rock music on TV at the time, but I had seen the BBC In Concert footage so the style of the acoustic set was no real surprise. What I hadn’t experienced before was the long electric jams and Neil’s extended guitar soloing. And of course the absolute highlight of this was when Neil casually said ‘Here’s another new song for you’ and launched into Like a Hurricane. This was a jaw-dropping performance, particularly when Neil was soloing in front of a giant electric fan, his long hair and clothes ‘blown away’ as he played.

It was over all too soon, but the memories have remained. A friend who was with me remarked he hadn’t expected Neil to play so many of his favorite ‘old songs’. None of us would ever have imagined Neil would still be playing old and new songs for us nearly 50 years later.

Just wanted to add that looking back and with the benefit of hindsight perhaps the most significant thing about the Japan/Europe tour was that it was the start of the Poncho era of live Crazy Horse performances. So much was yet to come... 

Regarding the Odeon Budokan album I share Tomatron's thoughts on it's brevity. It is really only half a show, and some of the tracks were rarely performed on the tour, e.g. Stringman was only played once, The Old Laughing Lady twice, and even Cowgirl was only played 5 times.

If it had been released in 1976 though my biggest surprise would have been the omission of Like A Hurricane. It was played every night and was an absolute standout. Perhaps Neil and Briggs wanted to save it for a studio album i.e Stars and Bars or as we now know Chrome Dreams. Having said that I actually enjoy listening to Odeon Budokan now as a live sampler as Tomatron suggests.

I have also been enjoying listening to CD, as a collection of classic Neil tracks, and as many have said it is mind boggling to enter the world of what if regarding what the Neil Young catalogue of albums would have looked like if different choices had been made about what albums were actually released. I am reminded of a quote from Poncho where he said Neil would ring him up to tell them they were releasing album and Poncho would say 'Oh yeah - what's on it?'

Perhaps the NYA timeline is the best way to explore Neil's music now, with the ability to see what was recorded when in chronological order rather than album order.

Thanks Ron.  What fantastic memories from Neil Young & Crazy Horse's 1976 Europe Tour. Thanks for sharing here.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse's 'ODEON BUDOKAN' 

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At 9/15/2023 12:27:00 PM, Blogger tomatron said...

Where did the photo at the bottom of this post come from? With the Odeon Budokan title? I haven’t seen it before.

At 9/16/2023 10:31:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

This post is a classic reason why this blog is so good! The quality of the posts & ensuing commentary is excellent consistently. Thanks to all & Thrasher for delivering all of this. You all have keen insights that us fans of the more hardcore variety benefit from! It feeds the soul.

Now a General message to blog readers:

Please consider donating to Thrasher’s Wheat. TW does not break even due to bandwidth expenses. It costs Thrasher money to give this away to us all! There is a paypal / donation link on the right side of the home page. Please help support the blog.
I will be donating….

Notice & enjoy the lack of advertising on Thrasher’s Wheat! All Wheat, no chaff!

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 9/18/2023 08:16:00 AM, Blogger Keith Lightle said...

I was at the Monday Hammersmith gig and was also blown away by Hurricane, still regard this gig as the best I have ever been to and I've been to a few.

At 9/19/2023 10:20:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ tomatron - it popped up on neil's SocMed feed.

@ Alan - thanks for the support! Like we say: All Wheat, no chaff!

@ Keith - wow, so cool to have such vintage rusties still reminiscing.

Please tell us more. love to hear the memories before they fade away like time ...

At 9/19/2023 12:25:00 PM, Blogger Ron said...

@tomatron - you can find this photo, and quite a few others, on NYA on the 'related' tab on the Odeon Budokan album infocard. This one is credited to Hirosuke Katsuyama. I especially like the one of Neil and Billy smoking cigars.

Great to see links to Thrasher's Wheat and Sugar Mountain on the front page of the Times Contrarian on NYA too - so well deserved.

Thanks for appreciating my reminiscing Thrasher - as you say would be great to hear others' memories too.

At 9/24/2023 12:57:00 AM, Blogger Bud on Every Friday 1-3 pm MT said...

I was Lucky enough to see 2 of the 4 Shows at the Palladium (and If they hadn't Screwed around with the way they sold tickets I would've been at All 4) & they are The 2 Best Neil Young Shows I've been to out of the 54 times I've seen him! For me the Stand Out Songs that I'd never heard before were Give Me Strength (which we had to Wait for an Eternity to be Officially Released, of course I had it on Bootlegs but casual fans missed out for Far Too Long!) & Of Course Like a Hurricane! Watching Neil stomp across the stage playing the Most Incredible Guitar accompanied by the Thunder of the Horse & standing in front of the Hurricane Fan with his long hair streaming in front of his face, Trippy to say the least!

But c'mon Odeon Budokan is a Major Disappointment! Far Too Short to say the least kind of like only Getting One Slice of Gloria's Pizza (for those in the know, The Best Pizza in New York!) What we Should've Gotten was a Complete Show from Europe, Japan & North America.


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