Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Live Review- Neil Young & Crazy Horse 11-27-12 MSG, NY

Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Live 11-27-12 
Madison Square Garden, NYC

Stepping into the refurbished inner workings of the upper levels of the Garden, the first thing you notice is that they simply aren't done working on it yet. Vendor shacks on the upper levels are still boarded up telling patrons of what is coming, not whats available. While underwhelming, it is understandable as workers are needed elsewhere since Hurricane Sandy, but what is more off putting is the narrowness that was constructed as the upper hallways.  Arriving at the break after Patti Smith's set found the corridor in the 200 level (previously the 300's or even 400's in some spots) almost clogged to the point of immobility.  Not a good first sign, but with work left to do hopefully the venue will be up to snuff soon.      

As the roadies for Neil Young & Crazy Horse, dressed up like scientists and construction workers, got the stage set for the show by revving up the over sized speakers the crowd was treated to a preset, recording of The Beatles "A Day In the Life" before Young and The Horse walked on stage to stand and salute for a listen to "The Star Spangled Banner" being piped in as if the Rangers were about to play. Hockey is on hold though as the band wasted no time working out past gems with an extended take on "Love And Only Love" to kick off the show.   

While the playing was snake-like and patented Crazy Horse in it's rambling, the sound in the arena was low from our seats in section 220. Noticeably all night the overall volume seemed to be minimal, I am not sure if this is on the performer or the new bowl like structure of the arena, which now contains a ring of Luxury boxes where the old walk way used to be mid-level. As the lights washed the stage in purple lights the band played a melodic and well received version of their classic "Powderfinger".    

A pair of new tunes from the groups newest album came next, "Born In Ontario" is a fairly straight ahead nondescript ode to the bands homeland, while "Walk Like A Giant" was the highlight of the night with it's 2 separate distortion drenched guitar duels and crushing 5+ minute feedback closing section which saw garbage being tossed on the stage (by the roadies) and fans of Neil's pop selections muttering in disbelief.

Understanding the ambiance though, Young broke up the show at this point with a few acoustic numbers, the first being "The Needle And The Damage Done" which brought the crowd back.  Then the new entry into his folkie "singing about peers" song catalog was played "Twisted Road".  When the band revved it back up it was another new tune that dominated as Neil played his guts out on "Ramada Inn".

Finishing the show in the "Crazy Horse Analog Time Machine" as Neil put it saw the band get it's biggest reaction from "Cinnamon Girl" before "Fuckin' Up" found the band break down into a vocal jam lead by Frank Sampedro.  The band closed with a nasty sounding "Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)" before sweating the crowds ride home with "Roll Another Number" during the encore.

The groups playing is more mellow then in the past which can be expected, but the passion is obviously alive and well as they performed a solid set of tunes.  What may not be so alive is MSG's reputation as the best sounding arena for music.  During the quieter parts of the show there were noticeable echoes bouncing around the rafters and odd patches of emptiness, while it is too early to pass judgement this was not the most successful first venture into the new upper reaches of the garden, hopefully things work themselves out in the future, especially as prices increase for live shows there.          

High light of the night:


2012-11-26, Madison Square Garden, USA
w/ Crazy Horse
Love And Only Love / Powderfinger / Born In Ontario / Walk Like A Giant / The Needle And The Damage Done / Twisted Road / Singer Without A Song / Ramada Inn / Cinnamon Girl / F*!#in' Up / Mr. Soul / Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) // Roll Another Number 

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