Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Crazy Horse at The Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

On Monday night, Neil Young returned to Newcastle for the first time in 40 years, the ‘shed’ that is the Metro Radio Arena replacing the City Hall and Crazy Horse replacing the Santa Monica Flyers (Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina formed the rhythm section of both bands).
This was my first show seen from the front rail – just in front of Poncho, when The Horse hit the stage.

Los Lobos played an entertaining set with, as it turned out, one guitarist (Cesar Rosas) missing. Their set finished off with the much-anticipated La Bamba.

As Los Lobos were leaving, Neil’s crew of construction workers and lab assistants hit the stage and began their show of mock consternation about the removal of covers from the massive model amps initially seen on the Rust Never Sleeps tour in 1978. The setting up of the huge mic complete with yellow ribbons was also the subject of much shouting and finger pointing.

Following The Beatles’ A Day In The Life, Neil and the boys ambled on stage and we were invited to sing along with the National Anthem! As is customary nobody knew the second verse.

The concert then kicked off with a blistering Love And Only Love. A massive G-chord signalled the onset of Powderfinger before 2 tracks from Psychedelic Pill; the title track and a wonderful Walk Like A Giant; this was a high-energy performance with a gritty mid-song jam. The coda consisted of a noisy rasp of a chord played for a full 10 minutes! What most of the standing audience must have missed during this were the accompanying on-stage antics; guys hidden stage right, with industrial size blowers and fans, blew several sacks of litter across the stage - some sort of ecological message meant to accompany the song, I think.

After the aural onslaught of Walk Like A Giant things got a bit mellow: fine harmonies from the band on the unreleased Hole In The Sky; 2 solo numbers from Neil – a beautiful Comes A Time and what I think may be Neil’s first live use of a capo on Blowin’ In The Wind (this is the subject of much research at the moment) and the unreleased Singer Without A Song, during which a lass with a guitar case wandered the stage presumably looking for a song!

Then it was back to full-on Horse with Ramada Inn, Cinnamon Girl and a much extended F*!#in' Up . Neil began chanting “you’re just a f*#K up” and seemed a bit peeved that the audience didn’t join in. Then Poncho began what seemed a made-up-on-the-spot vocal jam much to the crowd’s delight. There was some inter-band and band/audience banter involving giving “the finger” while singing/shouting Neil’s initial riff, all harmless fun of course.

About this time someone shouted out "Sing like you mean it?" Neil rounded on the heckler. "What the fuck would you sing for if you don't mean it?"
The Rusties in the crowd were in 7th heaven when the band played Surfer Joe And Moe The Sleaze, only its 13th live performance since its debut in 1987. A tight rendition of Buffalo Springfield’s Mr. Soul was followed by a crowd-pleasing Hey Hey My My (Into The Black) after which the band left the stage.
There was more shenanigans with the amp covers as the crowd yelled for more and The Horse returned for a blistering Rockin’ In The Free World. Neil got rather upset with Billy Talbot for messing up at the end, but it was all smiles as the 4 band members lined up for a thoroughly deserved ovation, which went on for several minutes.