Neil Young News
A collection of Neil Young and Crazy Horse concert reviews from the 2003 Greendale World Tour. Crazy Horse (plugged) and Solo Acoustic (unplugged) shows are reviewed.
As the Melbourne skies closed over and a dark cloud rolled across the venue spitting out some rain, Young and Crazy Horse stuttered into life and a crashing, thunderous five-minute cacophony opened a magnificent version of 'Like A Hurricane'.
It was an awesome display but it didn't end there. Just as everyone prepared for a standing ovation, the band segued into a triumphant 'Rockin' In The Free World'.
It was a stunning finale to a stunning evening. In the end, you couldn't help but feel that you had witnessed one of rock's greats at his peak."
On the concert's impact:
Over the next hour this still-fiery rock band play only five songs, beginning with a Hey Hey My My so bursting at the seams that it almost loses control in the piledriving outro. But it's a visceral hour, lacerated by Young's expressive control of noise, soothed by his ability to coax tenderness out of that noise and climaxing with a defiant and energised Rockin' in the Free World."
In a way it does feel like Young stumbled into his own imaginary town and couldn't find an easy way out. Some lost place where the homespun wisdoms and humor of Mark Twain and the madness of Hunter S. Thompson are familiars, along with that blood-on-the-ground quality that has always infused Young's music with a submerged note of shamanistic mourning for Native America and something like the passing of time itself.
Thoughts for me, though, kept returning to 'Greendale': the speechless beauty of 'Bandit,' the only acoustic moment, with that weird loose string off-noting and shining the beauty of the rest of it upon us; the scene where a bar band called The Imitators played immediately behind Crazy Horse like some kick-ass ghost from their younger days during the song 'Sun Green' (an ode to an ex-cheerleading, revolutionary eco-hippie who helped take us over the top in the show - move over Patty Hearst!); and finally that crowd on stage below the eagle, waving flags, calling out to us to 'save the planet for another day.' It was wild. And free. And I'm not even close to telling you the way it was. Some places are just like that, I guess."
More on the 11-22-2003, Sydney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, Australia concert and setlist. Thanks Matt!
It was, in effect, two of the most stunning rock concerts of the year. The first was Greendale, his new narrative opus about a small-town American family, with enough actors, ingenious staging devices and food for thought to make We Will Rock You look like a vacuous school pantomime. The second part saw Crazy Horse's distinctive sonic tempest scale delirious heights through six radically strung-out older tunes, including Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black), Powderfinger and a ferocious tilt at Bob Dylan's All Along the Watchtower. "
2nd Set: My My Hey Hey into All Along The Watchtower was great which then pretty much morphed into Like A Hurricane. Literally no gap between all three songs, it was 1/2 an hour (give or take a few minutes) of the most intense music I have ever witnessed. I was buggered by the end of it and all I did was watch! Although I did have to pick my jaw off the floor quite a few times! You could feel Hurricane in your chest, it was that powerful."
Brisbane, Australia concert Setlist:
Hey Hey My My
All Along the Watchtower
Like A Hurricane
Rockin' In The Free World
Roll Another Number
Young with Crazy Horse, of course, is not for everyone, which is one reason why this first night of his first Australian tour played to a part-filled Entertainment Centre. Crazy Horse can stomp and snarl, and Young's searing solos and lashings of feedback from his trusty Gibson can test the patience of the casual observer.
So the second part of the night is for the true believers, lifted up in the maelstrom as the band sweeps from Hey Hey, My My to Bob Dylan's All Along the Watchtower, Like a Hurricane, Powderfinger and two songs dedicated to Slim Dusty, Rocking in the Free World and Roll Another Number. Yes, a Young show can be hard work.
Sure, he could play less white noise and more crowd favourites. But that wouldn't be Young. But for those who enjoy music with adventure and surprise -- and surely one of the greatest electric guitar players on the planet -- the rewards are great.
I've seen some five-star shows this year: the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Prince. This one was just as good."
Budokan, Japan - November 14, 2003
From The Japan Times Online "Old man, take a look at yourself - Neil Young sings from the Budokan porch" concert review by PHILIP BRASOR:
Throughout, Young mixes hippie bromides with cranky conservative claptrap. 'One thing I can tell you is you got to be free,' he sings in 'Devil's Sidewalk,' and immediately cites the source: 'John Lennon said that -- and I believe in love.' However, the next line sounds more Rumsfeld than Lennon: 'And I believe in action, when push comes to shove.'
Bandit was the only song in the "Greendale" show that prompted a standing ovation, partly because it's a beautiful song, but mainly because the audience prefers Young in this uncranky mode. In the '70s, before he became the proto-grunge legend, Young's main suit as a rock personality was his vulnerability. Love and mythology were his obsessions. "After the Gold Rush," his best collection of songs, is mostly ballads, an outgrowth of the abstract "Helpless," which he wrote and sang with Crosby, Stills and Nash. Until he embraced punk on "Rust Never Sleeps" he worked this vulnerable side skillfully and honestly. Once he bought the rock nihilism line ("it's better to burn out than fade away") the crankiness settled over him like a shroud.
There aren't many musicians of Young's age or stature who can do so much with so little. "Hey Hey, My My," the song that liberated him from his vulnerable image, is rawer than most punk songs. Those coarse, atonal bar chords scrape the wax from your ears as he goes on about Johnny Rotten, a person whose relevance 25 years after the fact is historical, while Young's is still immediate. Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" hewed closer to the Hendrix rendition, and he drew out the solo for the express purpose of delaying the climactic line -- "the wind began to howl" -- for full dramatic effect. Who needs props and actors?
But it was "Powderfinger" that set the entirety of "Greendale" on its butt. As a story-song, it's close to perfect: terse, idiomatic, fueled by feelings rather than convictions. The languid beauty of the signature guitar line that comes at the end of every verse describes Young's passion for total freedom better than anything else he's done, even though in the song that freedom is embodied by a 22-year-old mountain kid who is about to take on the authorities with only a rifle and the realization "that I was left here to do all the thinkin'."
The blast of noise was deafening and the stage seemed like it was going to come apart at every nail as Young, with a mountain of riffs in hand, proved why he is sounding better than ever today with an invigorating performance from one of his best ever years. The electricity in the air was almost tangible as Crazy Horse, now sounding like a seven nation army than a band, began to assert itself as crucial cuts from Rust Never Sleeps and Ragged Glory dominated the set. The atmosphere, with some lava-lamp generation rock fans barging to the stage front, was as mind-blowing and extreme as it was immensely breathtaking.
If you really have to ask, Youngís iconic reputation did not cloud the issue; this gig was turning out to be a mother of a rock experience. Everything seemed in place as Young, with gritted-teeth and some guitar mangling in mind, was in rampant mood. He was throwing in the look of intent and it showed as he rock-blasted his way through heavy hitters F**kin Up, Hey Hey My My (Into The Black) and Love And Only Love with the energy and enthusiasm of someone half his age.
The audience, with raised fists, was getting blown away and anything seemed possible from this veteran outfit. Right in the eye of the storm, there was even time for Young to wryly ask them: Are we too loud? Looking at the crowd that lasted the midway point, it was unlikely that they were going to be disappointed as Young eased off on the volume when he grinned impishly and offered to take some requests in a few minutes with a solo acoustic folk-rock showcase.
Many might have played these classic tunes over and over, but in the flesh, there was some deep emotions involved when watching Young pick up a battered acoustic, reflect the years and launch into the sombre The Needle and the Damage Done right to the evergreen uplift of Heart of Gold (rarely heard live) and the melodic tingle on Sugar Mountain, from the days that used to be.
Couples swaying arm-in-arm and stealing kisses were also a gorgeous sight as the poignant Harvest Moon brought romance to the night.
But there is nothing too cosy about the olí hound dog that is Neil Young. From Hank to Hendrix and then Kurt, this man hasnít lost his zest. He was back with a mean bite as Crazy Horse returned on stage to whip up a blinding finish that pushed endurance (and volume) levels. The adrenalin rush on Like A Hurricane, the shrieking guitars on Sedan Delivery and the ragged glory of Powderfinger were the tunes to spark more excitement. Little was needed to get the crowd engrossed and frenzied again.
The lengthy jams were all over the place. Even if Young, wearing his rock íní roll heart on his sleeve, had overshot the concert curfew by nearly 30 minutes, most in the crowd did not mind, they didnít want this concert experience to end any time soon. This was the amazing sound of a band with fuel to burn and roads to drive. It had been one of the most engaging rock evenings in these parts, and aptly, the close-out strains of the liberating Rocking In A Free World sent the exhausted audience home with a formidable set to remember and something to keep their ears ringing for a week.
That night, Neil Young and Crazy Horse were simply colossal.
Uncle Michael has photos of Neil in Hong Kong, the concert ticket copy and a news cutting from the most popular Chinese newspaper of Hong Kong, Oriental Daily News having picture of Neil arriving at Hong Kong International Airport with his wife, Pegi.
,b>While most of his contemporaries have either died or are content to trade on former glories, Young is still pushing the boundaries, producing work that's amongst the best of his career.
His rebirth in the '90s as the godfather of grunge had everything to do with the reunion with Crazy Horse, a superb bar band who must share the credit for the jaw-dropping show at the Hong Kong Harbor Fest on November 6."
'Domo Arigato!' (Thank you very much!)"