Neil Young and Crazy Horse Crank It Up in Cleveland – Concert Review
Neil Young is timeless, end of story. His age is irrelevant (he turns 67 next month), and the fact that he has not had a 'hit' record in years is of no issue whatsoever. Young, and his longtime band, the ever durable Crazy Horse, are the real deal ... always have been. And last night's performance at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio proved that.
From the opening barn burner 'Love and Only Love' through the last echos of 'Roll Another Number,' Young, along with Frank Sampedro, Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina delivered a scorching set of loud, ragged rock and roll. Though the lines on their faces may portray the years, the sound coming from those amps possessed a youthful energy that most of their peers have no idea how to demonstrate.
Unlike many of the old guard, Neil Young is still very much a contemporary artist. With two new albums released this year, Young is not a nostalgia act. This may have had the more casual fan scratching their heads with the absence of standards like 'Heart of Gold' or 'Old Man,' and scratching even harder during the epic 'Walk Like a Giant.' Clocking in at the better part of 20 minutes, this was one of five new songs played from the band's forthcoming album 'Psychedelic Pill.' Even though Young and Co. released the acclaimed 'Americana' earlier in the year, not one song from that disc of folk based standards was played. Neil has always done what he wants, when he wants.
That's not to say it was an evening of obscurities, 'Hey Hey My My' and 'Powderfinger' were fully on display, as was the eternal classic 'Cinnamon Girl.' As with any given Crazy Horse show, it's about what Neil and the band are feeling, and not about dishing out 'the hits' just for the sake of it. It would be refreshing if more acts took that notion to heart. New songs like 'Born in Ontario' and 'Psychedelic Pill' fit in seamlessly with the older material.
On the ever poignant 'The Needle and the Damage Done,' Young's voice was as pure as it has ever been on this timeless tune. The Buffalo Springfield classic 'Mr. Soul' was pumped full of new life by Crazy Horse, giving the 1966 gem some unexpected urgency and drive.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse make a racket unlike anyone else, and while it's safe (and sad) to say that this Horse doesn't have too many rounds on the track left, this tour is proving that they will certainly go out kicking. No burning out, no fading away. As the last echos of sonic shrapnel reverberated off the walls, it was obvious this Horse wasn't spooked at all.