rejoice! Neil Young and Crazy Horse return to the stage. Jams ensue
Neil Young, Mazzy Star, Nick Mason, Yellow Submarine, Sudan Archives
“Neil was really on it, Lofgren a smart foil. Molina drove the band along”
E ven by neil Young’s usual standards, the news that he and Crazy Horse were reconvening for their first live shows in four years came as an unexpected – though entirely welcome – development.
no sooner had the dust settled on his Paradox film and soundtrack project – and with the Roxy: Tonight’s The Night live album finally in shops – Young announced three “unrehearsed” shows in Fresno for May 1-3 (with two more to follow in Bakersfield, a few hours’ drive down the coast).
What’s more, Frank ‘Poncho’ Sampedro would not be joining the band this time out. Filling his place would be nils Lofgren, who last played with the Horse back in 1973. As if to reflect this change in personnel, Young took these players out under the moniker NYCH.
Keen Young observers, of course, would immediately note that this iteration of Crazy Horse cleaves close to the lineup for the Santa Monica Flyers – the band Young assembled for those Roxy shows. But any notions that Young and his compadres would somehow shoot for the stoned, steamy vibes of those 1973 outings were misplaced. This was the Horse, back at full gallop.
Opening with “Big Time”, Young sang, “I’m still living in the dream we had/For me it’s not over” a glorious reaffirmation of his commitment to his longestserving musical foils. “neil was really on it,” reports one eyewitness, “Lofgren a smart foil. Ralph [Molina] drove the band along.”
And what of Billy Talbot, the Horse bassist who suffered a mild stroke in 2014? Our reporter notices that although he appeared to struggle during the first show, by the second night “Billy looked better, good to see. Maybe the Horse has legs after all.”
The setlist, meanwhile, offered a rousing summation of the band’s many highlights – including “Country Home”, “F*!#in’ Up”, “Cinnamon Girl”, “Cortez The Killer” and “Mansion On The Hill” – alongside a minor rarity, “Scattered (Let’s Think About Livin’)”, which was previously only ever performed live on the band’s 1996 tour.
Typically, for now Young is remaining tight-lipped about what happens to NYCH after they have played these five gigs. One can only hope there will be more to come. Long may they run…