Concert Review: Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Lake Tahoe, NV 08-09-2012
I wish I could write some crazy Fear and Loathing style review where I was gulping down handfuls of drugs and drinking gallons of booze as Neil Young played the perfect soundtrack to my ‘under the influence’ swagger, but that would be the farthest from the truth…no drugs or alcohol were consumed on this trip. Although Neil Young did create the almost perfect soundtrack to accompany my many moods of late.
After the short trip up the hill from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe my wife and I spent some time walking around Harvey’s Casino looking for something to eat before the show. Let me give you some advice, if you are looking for a quick bite to eat and you find yourself in Harvey’s you want to stay away from Sierra Choice Deli located on the casino floor…total over-priced tasteless garbage. I am not a food snob but this overpriced soup and sandwich was just was not good.
We did win a little small amount of change while we were in the casino…enough to cover the garbage dinner and pay for a couple of concert T’s. After an hour or so in the casino we made our way out to the back parking lot where the concert amphitheater was located. This was our first time at the venue and although it was no more than a parking lot with bleachers and a stage it seemed just about perfect. Plenty of venders with food and drink to choose from. Easy to get into and afterward easy to get out of…and the weather on the evening of the show was perfect.
After we found where our seats were on the right side of the stage we went to check out the T-shirts and grab a soda before the band came on. The wait in the line for the merchandise table was the only bummer of the night. We waited in what was a haphazard line for 35 minutes, but everyone was courteous and seemed to be in a good mood for the most part, talking about Neil shows they had seen in the past.
We had bleacher seats on the Neil side, back about 100yds or so…right behind the handicap section. Right at 9pm the lights went down and the ‘boys’ took the stage. Everyone looked a little older, carrying a little more weight and some had a little less hair. The sound was strong with Neil’s vocals out front and crystal clear as the band played the opening song, ‘Love and Only Love‘ from the album Ragged Glory from 1991. The song went like this…guitar jam, verse, guitar jam, verse, guitar jam, bridge, guitar jam, verse, guitar jam. After a short 15 minutes the opening song was history. From this one song I knew some people were going to be in for a long night. That opening song set the tone for the evening. This would be a night dominated by the big sounds of crunchy guitars and playful noise. Not that there wouldn’t be heartfelt ballads or acoustic songs (there would be), but the endless ‘Horse Huddles’ were the bread and butter of this show.
Six new or unreleased songs were played. Only one song from the newest album got aired and the biggest ‘hits’ played were Cinnamon Girl and The Needle and the Damage Done. Of the new songs Walk Like a Giant is an epic song and an epic coda. In Tahoe the song clocked in at 23 minutes…approximately the last 7 and a half minutes was a noisy outro with Neil and the band making their instruments scream. As this was going on the guy behind me yelled, ‘Just end it already.’ I was eating it up. That one song made my night.
The show did seemed to hit a slight drag right smack dab in the middle of the two hour show. After the initial onslaught of the first four songs we got a two song Neil solo acoustic set then a couple of slower full band songs (both new) and the setlist could have used a mid tempo ‘hit’ between those numbers to keep the crowd placated. But that is my only less than positive observation of the whole night.
The other highlight for me was during a raunchy version of the song ‘Fuckin’ Up‘ when Neil yelled that he was ‘just a fuck-up’ and ‘played only one note’… ‘I can’t play this thing’, he joyously yelled over the Crazy Horse din. It was easy to see that everyone on stage was having a great time. Crazy Horse guitarist Poncho Sampedro was grinning, jumping around and even giving Neil a couple of boots to the ass during the fun jams. For a person aged 66 Neil was acting like a man half his age. Stomping on his foot pedals and strangling shrieks and screams from his guitar, staring at Poncho, laughing with Poncho…
Speaking of Poncho, Rolling Stone magazine online published a story where he talked about a new album of original material called Psychedelic Pill which may be in the stores for when the tour resumes in October, but with Neil you never know. He also talked about recording the aforementioned Walk Like a Giant…”We played it one time and the next thing we know we’re doing overdubs. Then he played it for us. The playback just blew our minds. We had no idea we’d done something that big. I imagine it’s about Earth being destroyed by this giant, and we’re screening the planet for survivors and shit. I have all these images going through my head. It’s really crazy.”
Seeing Neil Young in concert is always a treat, but when he is paired up with the Horse it seems like a little something special is put into that one fucking note he plays. It might be just one note, but it is the perfect note in this non-perfect band. The concert was maybe not as mind blowing as when I saw them in 91, but pretty damn close.
Posted on August 21, 2012, in Random Thoughts and tagged Fuckin Up, Harveys Outdoor Ampitheater, Neil Young 2012-08-09, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Neil Young concert photos Lake Tahoe, Neil Young Lake Tahoe concert review, Poncho Samperdo, Walk like a Giant. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.