‘Concert Reviews’ Articles
Nov-19 Toronto, ON Air Canada Centre w/Los Lobos
Great interview, from long-time Zuman legend, Neil historian and writer Sharry :
“Neil was quite chatty with the audience. The first thing he said was “Thanks for coming, folks. Good to see you.” During the introduction to “Born In Ontario,” Neil said, “Home Sweet Home,” and then added, “Watch out for falling glass.” ”
Read the nice review with photos on Human-Highway.org.
Wearing a red flannel shirt over a second red flannel shirt, a scraggly Neil Youngbrought the 26th annual Bridge School Benefit Concertat Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheatre to a chilly close on Saturday with his usual all-star run through “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Only one thing was lacking – any discernible stars.
It was an anticlimactic end to an unusually anticlimactic concert that started some seven hours earlier with Young standing in the same spot. The venerated rocker and his wife, Pegi, typically have no problem drawing rock ‘n’ roll heavyweights to their annual shindig benefiting children with severe physical and speech impairments – from the Who and Paul McCartneyto Green Day and Radiohead. It’s a great cause and an honor to share the stage with the host.
But this year’s lineup felt lacking from the start. The most popular names on the bill could have made up an “I Love the ’90s” package show: Sarah McLachlan, the Flaming Lips, k.d. lang, Lucinda Williamsand whatever passes for Guns N’ Roses these days.
Even worse, they performed like it.
An unkempt Axl Rosearrived onstage late, hunched over a microphone stand and huffed his way through tunes that sounded vaguely familiar with a cast of misfits that looked vaguely like a band. His voice and blue jeans equally shredded, Rose forgot the lyrics to his group’s biggest hit, “Welcome to the Jungle,” and delivered an off-key version of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” that most likely had all the dogs within earshot of the concert howling in pain.
The Flaming Lips did their best to scale down their acid-infused psychedelic pop to the concert’s acoustic setting, even drafting the comedian Reggie Wattsfor live beat-boxing duties. But singer Wayne Coyne, in his unwashed gray suit, seemed unsettled. Determined to rile the crowd, he flapped his arms and beseeched, “Come on! Come on!”
Arriving onstage after the woefully mellow double shot of McLachlan and singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagnedidn’t do his band any favors. Nor did its surreal set, in which Coyne rambled incoherently, played “Taps” on a broken bugle and attempted a cover of the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” with Watts reading the words off an iPhone.
Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder, putting in a surprise guest appearance, provided some relief from the general incompetence of the night as he efficiently revived a couple of his band’s “Seinfeld”-era hits. “When I woke up this morning, this is the last thing I thought I would be doing,” he said, having been drafted to kill time before Guns N’ Roses’ late arrival.
This year it was the more contemporary acts that put in the most memorable sets. Jack White, backed by a pale all-female band resembling zombies, charged through a handful of blues-tinged songs from his solo album, “Blunderbuss,” while coyly flirting with the musicians. He also threw in a couple of White Stripes classics, “Hotel Yorba” and “We’re Going to Be Friends,” for good measure.
Foster the People, who had a huge hit last year with “Pumped Up Kicks” but skipped it altogether on Saturday, also managed to make the most of their brief time onstage, revamping their synthetic pop tunes with remarkable practicality.
Earlier in the day, Steve Martinand the Steep Canyon Rangers performed a passable set of bluegrass as the comedian recycled his old stage jokes (“People say to me, ‘Steve, why a music career? Why now?’ And I say, ‘Hey, you guys are my band.’ “); Lucinda Williams warbled tentatively; and k.d. lang, well, apparently she was there too.
The lackluster lineup left the weight of expectation on Young and his band, Crazy Horse, to close out the show with something substantial. Instead, the band merely revisited a bulk of its Outside Lands set from August – most of it new, unreleased or entirely forgotten material – only without the gnarled gusts of feedback to drive it along.
Toward the end of the night, Young performed a lovely rendition of “The Needle and the Damage Done,” which took on gut-wrenching intensity in light of the past-their-prime performers that came before. Its mournful note struck a tone – with even Rose and White bailing on the jam session, this was clearly a year to forget.
Aidin Vaziriis The San Francisco Chronicle’s pop music critic.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Bud Light Stage
Austin City Limits Music Festival, Zilker Park
October 13, 2012
With all the members knocking on the door of 70, it would be easy for the youngsters at ACL to call Neil Young and his band Crazy Horse decrepit and foggy. But their blistering set was a brute-force display of proto-grunge and Bernard Shakey hymns to the hard land and the harder life.
Simply put, the band was louder and tighter than most anything else one would see in Zilker Park thus far. Keep in mind that the Iggy & the Stooges’ Sunday-evening set tonight could tie up that score.
Saturday night, festival-goers had two options for evening entertainment: the aggressive history lesson on the Bud Light stage with Young and company, or Jack White’s formidable solo display on the AMD outpost hundreds of yards away. It wasn’t possible to see both, plus I was entrenched in the front of the Crazy Horse crowd early on.
Opening with “Love And Only Love” from 1990′s Ragged Glory, the band raged with Young’s signature stomping and wrenching for ten minutes, before pulling things back for a towering recitation of “Powderfinger,” complete with crazy interplay and feedback.
The thought of the band rehearsing these songs in some rustic barn at full bloody volume makes me giddy. The band is no frills, and compared to the rest of the dress of the festival’s flashy lineup, they looked like roadies or stoner grandpas in comparison. Young threw off his Willie Nelson camp into the photo pit early on, with a fan just losing it from his hands.
Young took on the mournful “The Needle and the Damage Done” alone with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica, thrilling the old stalwart fans in the crowd. With each strum of his guitar, there was history dripping onto the stage.
“Cinnamon Girl” would have been the most immediately recognized song for the wet-behind-the-ears set at the show, Young dedicating it to his wife somewhere backstage.
Seeing Young sans Crazy Horse is only seeing a third of his spirit. The last time I saw Young was at Houston’s Jones Hall on his “Le Noise” tour, a jaunt that saw him alone with just pedals, his prized guitars, and some snarl. Saturday night’s headlining set was the same, just done widescreen and with a lot more smiles.
Young is an act that we have all long waited to make his ACL debut. He was the only glaring hole left in the festival’s 11-year history, and thankfully he filled it and overflowed the empty space that was there.
SET LIST (Courtesy of Sugar Mountain) Love And Only Love Powderfinger Born In Ontario Walk Like a Giant The Needle And The Damage Done Twisted Road Ramada Inn Cinnamon Girl F*!#in' Up Psychedelic Pill Down By The River ENCORE Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)
Appropriately so, the band launched into “Down By The River”, just paces from the Colorado which cuts through Austin. The crowd was raging for it.
A howling Neil Young rocks United Center
Neil Young and Crazy Horse play at the United Center Thursday. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune / October 12, 2012), Greg Kot Music critic, 9:59 a.m. CDT, October 12, 2012
Frank “Pancho” Sampedro, the longtime guitarist in Crazy Horse, is a barrel of a man. He wears the look of a retired linebacker who has put on a few pounds. But he went airborne Thursday at the United Center as he and Neil Young squared off and stomped around the stage.
Instead of hunching over his guitar, bending at the waist as he normally does, Young turned his instrument into a machine gun, his legs splayed, straw hair flailing. “I (messed) up again and again,” he roared, first raging, then pained, as if he were reliving some trainwreck moment from the past.
By the end, the singer was a demon-eyed street oracle howling at the audience. “They give you this, but you pay for that,” he spat, turning “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” into an Occupy manifesto.
* Photos: Neil Young at United Center
Young and Crazy Horse have been an off-and-on proposition for more than 40 years, but Young has indisputably made some of his best – and most violent – music in the company of Sampedro, bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina.
Now they’re on the road for the first time in nearly a decade. A few props were resurrected from the late-‘70s “Rust Never Sleeps” tour – the giant amplifiers and parade-float-sized microphone serviced by lab-coated roadies. But that was about it for nostalgia. The quartet has released two new albums this year, and the set list Thursday brimmed with new songs, rejiggered arrangements and feverish intensity.
Make no mistake — the past kept creeping into the songs. The passage of time and how it twists perceptions and tests relationships is a major theme in Young’s new work. Wistfulness oozed from several songs, including the 17-minute “Ramada Inn,” in which a couple finds that even love isn’t enough to keep them from drifting apart. He shuts down, she pulls away, and time rolls on.
But there was nothing particularly genteel or overly familiar and comforting about this music. Like one of Young’s beloved trains, Crazy Horse is a large beast that tends to ease into its work. But once it gains its bearings and picks up speed, it’s awfully difficult to slow down. At least five of the 13 songs performed Thursday surpassed the 10-minute mark. “Love and only Love” began like an extended exhale before finding its pace, with Young, Sampedro and Talbot huddled in front of the drum riser. Whereas most bands spread out to fill a big stage such as the United Center’s, Crazy Horse bunches together, as if defending their home against invasion.
The group works itself into a trance-like frenzy, Young’s guitar piercing through a thicket of bottom-heavy tones and rumbling drums. For the relatively pithy “Cinnamon Girl,” the feedback that shut it down lasted nearly as long as the song itself. The band turned the period psychedelia of Young’s old Buffalo Springfield hit “Mr. Soul” into churning acid-punk. Molina’s drums on “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” pumped like pistons in a factory.
Normally, the encore is a time of a celebration, of release. But Young and Crazy Horse instead shook loose the ghosts of the harrowing “Tonight’s the Night.” Expanded to 10 minutes, the song became a long, lonely howl for fallen friends, a séance. “Tonight’s the night,” Young whispered. “Yes, it is.”