Neil Young & Crazy Horse | Hyde Park | London | 12 Jul 2014

Neil Young & Crazy Horse rock Hyde Park...

The British Summertime concert in London's Hyde Park offered an intriguing line up of bands topped by the - and I don't use the word lightly - legendary Neil Young.

Last year I attended Young's 'Alchemy' tour stop at Newcastle, which was a full frontal Crazy Horse assault on the senses which relied heavily on the excellent 'Psychedelic Pill' album. The current tour has found Young having to make some late adjustments to whatever he might have had due to regular Crazy Horse bassist Billy Talbot suffering a mild stroke a few weeks ago and, sensibly, sitting the latest round of dates out on doctor's advice in order to ensure to make a full and speedy recovery. In response, Young has drafted in Rick Rosas, who played in the reformed Buffalo Springfield a few years back, and two backing vocalists Dorene Carter and YaDonna West.

Some fans have argued that this, therefore, is Crazy Horse lite, but Young and band still served up a magnificent performance spanning his career from 1969's 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere' through to 2013's 'Psychedelic Pill'. Unlike the Newcastle show, Young surprised many by performing electric versions of the classics 'After The Goldrush' and 'Heart Of Gold' that had the older members of the audience hastily grabbing their cameras to snap selfies of themselves grooving to the classic tunes while also capturing Young on the big screen.

Young has such a formidable back catalogue, that you could watch him perform ten shows in a row, playing a different set every night and still feel aggrieved that he didn't play a couple of your favourite numbers. Yes, if he didn't jam many of these songs out into 10 and 15 minute epics, he'd fit more numbers in, but that's not what the Horse are about. Taking a riff and riding it to its crest and then some is what the audience expect from the band and that's what they continue to deliver. The 'Ragged Glory' and 'Zuma' albums were well represented making up a third of the setlist, and hearing tracks like 'Goin' Home', 'Days That Used To Be' (which saw Young exchange "Old Black" for the first of several appearances of his beautiful white Gretsch Falcon), 'Love To Burn' and 'Barstool Blues' was an absolute joy.

Just like at Newcastle there was another unreleased song, this time 'Who's Gonna Stand Up And Save The Earth' as well as blistering versions of 'Cinnamon Girl' and 'Rockin' In The Free World' and an encore of 'Down By The River'. It was a wonderful performance from the 68-year-old Young who plays with the passion and intensity of a twenty year old, and on this form it's easy to see why so many younger musicians cite him as an influence. Earlier in the day, Tom Odell admitted he couldn't believe he was on the same bill as Young and Jack Savoretti also on the bill recently covered 'The Needle And The Damage Done'. Special mention too to Poncho Sampedro, now seemingly fully recovered from last year's broken hand, who was sporting a t-shirt showing an x-ray of his hand, middle digit feistily extended. It actually took until the second song before I noticed it, and I admit, it made me laugh out loud. 

Setlist: Love And Only Love, Goin' Home, Days That Used To Be, After The Gold Rush, Love To Burn, Separate Ways, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Blowin' In The Wind, Heart Of Gold, Barstool Blues, Psychedelic Pill, Cinnamon Girl, Rockin' In The Free World, Who's Gonna Stand Up And Save The Earth?, Down By The River.

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