Update: Check out David Carr’s great interview with Shakey in the NY Times:
CONCERT REVIEW– Neil Young and Crazy Horse at Red Rocks, Morrison, CO 8/5/12
Exclusive content for seeyouattherockshow from Contributing Editor and Vice Poobah, the inscrutable Nanker Phledge:
Back in 1990, “when dinosaurs still roamed the earth”, an aging “Walkin’” Lawton Chiles became the last Democrat elected Governor in Florida, beating long odds to defeat the incumbent Republican and Dracula lookalike Bob Martinez. Chiles overcame a vicious party primary, his own recent treatment for depression, and paltry finances to pull out a late win despite polls flagging defeat. When asked how he did it, Chiles explained in true Cracker fashion, “ the old he-coon walks by dawn”.
Another old he-coon stalked the Red Rocks stage Sunday night, as an aging, suddenly heavy Neil Young whipped his crop on the backside of Crazy Horse and rode them into a blazing sunset overlooking the Mile High City. Neil flogged away at Old Black and other helpless Gibsons, often face to face with Frank “ Pancho” Sampedro, to the delight of fans who knew every riff, save those wondrous improvisations that make live music superior. Indeed, his now-paunchy midsection and hunched-over playing stance resembled a feisty, cackling coon as he prodded Pancho and the band for more drive, more feedback, more distortion, more improvised choruses and lyrics.
Neil opened with “Love and Only Love”, one of three selections from the Crazy Horse tour de force, “Ragged Glory”, and his voice was stronger than expected. After rousing applause, he nodded to Pancho and started singing, “ look out, Mama, there’s a white boat comin’ up the river…” , to roars from the crowd. Yes, the classic “ Powderfinger”, the song written “ for Skynyrd to record” before Ronnie’s death ( check out “Ronnie and Neil”, on the Drive-By Truckers’ “Southern Rock Opera” for more on that) and later released on “ Rust Never Sleeps”. If the Grim Reaper had tapped me on the shoulder at that moment, I wouldn’t have resisted. For fans who feared Neil would never tour with the Horse again, it was a transcendent moment. The show continued through one war horse after another, with “ Cinnamon Girl” ( “ Here’s one I wrote this morning”), “ Mister Soul”, an acoustic version of “ The Needle and the Damage Done”, and a rousing “ My My, Hey Hey ( Into the Black)” to finish. The encore was another “Ragged Glory” selection,“ Over and Over”, and the band joined arms to wild applause before the lights came on.
Amazingly, though perhaps not, considering his stubborn contrarian streak, Neil played not one song from his popular, critically acclaimed recent Crazy Horse release, “ Americana”, which was blasted from many car stereos in the tailgating parking areas. I would love to have heard “ Oh Susanna” or “ Tom Dula” ( I thought it was “Dooley”, like the poor-mouthing Georgia football coach), or “ This Land Is Your Land”, but hey, he’s Neil Young, he can do what he damn well pleases. An amazing show by one of the truly iconic, incorruptible artists of our time. As put so well by Patterson Hood,
“Ronnie and Neil, Ronnie and Neil
Rock stars today ain’t half as real
Speakin’ their minds about how they feel
Let them guitars blast for Ronnie and Neil…”
– Patterson Hood, DBT – “Ronnie and Neil”
Editors’ note: The orderlies have escorted Mr.Phledge back to his room and beloved medication tray. Any connection between Neil Young and Lawton Chiles is purely pharmaceutical.