In­stant Karma!

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…

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