tue 19/11/2019

Neil Young and Crazy Horse, O2 Arena | reviews, news & interviews

Neil Young and Crazy Horse, O2 Arena

Neil Young and Crazy Horse, O2 Arena

Veteran campaigner still ready to run heavy metal marathons

Neil Young (right) with Crazy Horse - Frank Sampedro, Ralph Molina and Billy Talbot

"Don't say it's over," wailed Neil Young at the end of "Hey Hey, My My", his raging anthem against the dying of the light which still sounds as bellicose and cantankerous as it did in 1979. And happily it isn't over yet, because on this evidence the 67-year-old Young still looks fighting fit and raring to run round-the-clock heavy metal marathons.

He'd packaged the show with some wacky dramatic trappings that seemed to specifically reference the Rust Never Sleeps era from which "Hey Hey..." sprang. Back then he toured with a bizarre crew of "Road-Eyes", while here they were dressed in zany wigs and white coats like a troupe of mad professors. The giant mock-ups of flight cases and amplifiers at the back of the stage might have been transported intact across the intervening three decades. As for the ensemble lining up, hands on hearts, to sing "God Save the Queen" at the start of the show, well... Young is a Canadian, after all.

In the seasonal rotations of his almost unearthly creativity, Young's reunions with Crazy Horse usually signal that the gloves are off and some kind of war has been declared. Tonight, with the grizzled combo arrayed around him looking like a bunch of motor mechanics lovingly restoring an old Buick, he rarely strayed far from his weather-beaten old black Les Paul guitar, his deadliest weapon of choice for as long as anyone can remember. He wrenched great deluges of shuddering noise from its frets that felt powerful enough to shunt the building off its axis and into the Thames. From the opening feral throb of "Love and Only Love" through "Powderfinger", "Fuckin' Up" and a version of "Mr Soul" that was like the Stones' "Satisfaction" channelled through AC/DC and the MC5, his soloing sounded as raw and demented as it's ever been.

As the Eagles' Don Henley recently commented, "when you get to our age people start falling over," and there was an aura about this show of Young being eager to get his point across while there was still time. His signing-off comments at the end of the night contained some semi-mocking remark about "we'll see you all again if we're all still here," and a similar sense of taking stock infused last year's album Psychedelic Pill, where the songs seemed like a personal history of Young intermingled with a retrospective chronicle of how the baby boomers didn't quite manage to change the world. The songs he played from it included "Walk Like a Giant", which rose over the stage like a visionary sunrise, and a version of "Ramada Inn" which oozed sadness and regret.

He made space for some old stalwarts too. An acoustic "Comes a Time" was a reminder of his gift for simple melodies that light up from within, and was contrasted unexpectedly but effectively with Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind". An oceanic "Like a Hurricane" worked the melodic trick again, except with a million added gigawatts. "Cinnamon Girl" was slowed down a fraction to crank up the low-gear raunch, and there has never been a more perfect deployment of two guitars, bass and drums. Young sent us off into the night with the addled singalong of "Roll Another Number", a warped flashback to the hippiedom that he never really signed up to, despite the hair and the patched jeans. Joining other people's movements isn't his thing.

Young rarely strayed far from his weather-beaten old black Les Paul guitar, his deadliest weapon of choice


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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"... a version of "Mr Soul" that was like the Stones' "Satisfaction" channelled through AC/DC and the MC5, his soloing sounded as raw and demented as it's ever been." Now im not a Rolling Stones fan- never have been, but even i can tell the riff of Jumpin Jack Flash from Satisfaction, and Mr Soul, no matter what you do to it, does not sound like satisfaction !! Sort it out ! :)

Pity you weren't there, it was great.

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