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Concert Reviews:
Neil Young shows his Canadian pride with Crazy Horse in Windsor

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2012

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WINDSOR -- More than 40 years ago, Neil Young sang nostalgically about "a town in north Ontario." But on Wednesday night, Oct. 3, he brought the first date of his Alchemy Tour with Crazy Horse to the southern part of the province with a nearly two-hour display of the group's trademark sonic assault at the WFCU Centre.

Young -- who noted that he played his first show as a solo artist at Windsor's Purple Onion -- didn't wait long to display his native Canadian pride, starting the show with "O Canada" as a flag unfurled at the rear of the stage. And "Born in Ontario," one of the five songs he and Crazy Horse previewed from their upcoming "Psychotic Pill" album (due Oct. 30), certainly went over in a more special way than it will on other stops of the tour.

The song's reference to "Detroit city," meanwhile, gave fans from across the border something extra to cheer about, as did the Tigers jersey Frank "Poncho" Sampedro sported on the same night Miguel Cabrera won baseball's Triple Crown.

It's been eight years since Young last toured with Crazy Horse, but save for some additional gray hair little seemed to have changed during the interim. The staging -- large-scale amplifiers and equipment cases, with a giant microphone perched in the center of the stage -- hearkened back to late 70s "Rust Never Sleeps" vintage, with crew members decked out in white lab coats (Young referred to them as "scientists") and construction gear. The video screens on either side of the stage, meanwhile, showed grainy real-time images of the group.

Most importantly, the general tenor of Young with Crazy Horse was the same, the stage embodiment of a bunch of guys playing together in a basement, instinctively locked into each other and communicating musical changes with their eyes and bodies. Young has never been one to follow a script, but the three members of Crazy Horse not only expected the left turns on Wednesday but knew exactly how to follow them.

Save for pair of solo acoustic songs -- "The Needle and the Damage Done" and the new "Twisted Road" -- Young and company (including an adjunct keyboardist providing subtle drones and fills from the side of the stage) kept things rocking through out the night. An opening blast of older material -- "Love and Only Love" and "Powderfinger" -- led into the "Psychedelic Pill" samples, including the lengthy "Walk Like a Giant" whose extended, feedback drenched finish had longtime Crazy Horse fans grinning. The sweet "Ramada Inn" led into the cacophonous fun of "F***in Up" and "Psychedelic Pill's" raucous title track, while "Cortez the Killer" was a pleasant and well-delivered surprise -- as was the encore rendition of "Tonight's The Night," which united the group's past and present in a neat, if noisy, fashion.

A bonus on Wednesday was Los Lobos, which opened the show with its own typically spirited 45 minutes of indigenous American and Latin rock and blues, starting with "Dream in Blue" -- a nod to this year's 20th anniversary celebration of its landmark "Kiko" album -- and including favorites such as "That Train Don't Stop Here," "Will the Wolf Survive?," the "Don't Worry Baby" and "Mas y Mas." The group's Cesar Rosas, thanking Young for having Los Lobos on the tour, promised that "it's gonna be a gas," which proved true whether he was talking about just his band's set or the entire evening.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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