Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Neil Young & Crazy Horse Bring the Fuzz to The Garden

Neil Young and Crazy Horse visited Madison Square Garden last night on their tour to promote their new album "Psychedelic Pill," and as you'd expect from hearing that disc, jamming and fuzzed-out guitar ruled the night. (See NPR Music's review of the album.)

Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Neil Young, Crazy Horse, and stagehands standing at attention during the playing of the national anthem.

With an album featuring two discs and one song of 27 minutes and another more than 15, it's no surprise that Tuesday's show probably featured fewer songs than you'd find in previous Neil Young shows, and that was the case. Even some relatively short older songs had a verse repeated twice. (See set list below.)

The good news is that Young and his old mates can still rock with power and lots of distortion. Hearing Crazy Horse, it's easy to see how grunge rockers such as Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam were inspired by the Canadian-born Young.

The bad news is that many of the songs would have been just as enjoyable if they hadn't been extended in length, and this would have allowed the band to fit at least a few more songs into the set. ("Fuckin' Up," in particular, went on much longer than we felt it should have.)

We would have preferred to hear more older songs, especially from Young's classic album "Harvest" (he played only one tune from it, a solo acoustic "The Needle and the Damage Done.") Other older tunes included "Powderfinger," "Cinnamon Girl," "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)," and the Buffalo Springfield rocker "Mr. Soul."

Songs from "Psychedelic Pill" that were played included "Born in Ontario," "Ramada Inn," and "Walk Like a Giant."

Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Neil Young and Crazy Horse during Tuesday's show.

Neil Young doesn't seem like someone you'd necessarily expect to have a crazy sense of humor or eye for stagecraft, but the show featured some wacky touches. The stagehands were dressed either as construction workers (in orange vests and yellow hardhats) or as mad scientists, complete with white lab coats and Einstein-style unkempt hair. And they all stood at attention, side by side, as the national anthem was played (with an American flag projected on the back screen) before Young's set began. (We're not sure if he's doing this before every show, or just in ones played in sports arenas.)

The stage had a retro cartoon look; it was adorned by several large structures made to resemble giant Fender amps, and an oversized model of an old-style microphone stood at the front of the stage.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse play the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Monday, Dec. 3rd; tickets are still available here

Everest started off the show (I arrived too late to catch them), followed by a brief set by Patti Smith.

Patti Smith at MSG
 Patti Smith during her opening set.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Madison Square Garden, Nov. 27th, 2012
Set list: (via Brooklyn Vegan)
"Love and Only Love"
Born in Ontario"
Walk Like a Giant"
The Needle and the Damage Done"
Twisted Road 
"Without a Song"
Ramada Inn"
Cinnamon Girl"
Fuckin' Up"
Mr. Soul"
Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)"

Roll Another Number"

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