AS EVER, hearing Neil Young play live was a tumult, a storm, an emotional flaying by guitar, with moments of shuddering calm secreted throughout.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse - SECC, Glasgow
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In the beginning, after an odd opening tableau in which his white-coated roadies craned the flight cases from some giant amplifiers to the strains of the Beatles’ A Day in the Life and Flower of Scotland, it appeared as though we might be in for a one-note clash of crunching guitars and over-laboured soloing, as Love and Only Love, the ever-striking Powderfinger and Psychedelic Pill kept an inflexible pace. Yet Young is never to be underestimated.
Walk Like a Giant maintained a similar mood, until it suddenly veered sharply left into a thunderous, menacing stomp which seemed to go on for ten minutes at least, with litter being blown across the stage and a very impressive thunderstorm effect deluging the track into submission. From there, a deft tension between the devastatingly simple and the skilfully grandiose came into play. Heart of Gold and Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind were delivered in delicate acoustic versions and the piano-led Singer Without a Song featured a pretty girl with tattoos and two-tone hair strolling the stage with a guitar case.
Like a juggernaut going up through the gears, this unassuming man in black rumbled on harder and faster, with Ramada Inn detailing the break-up of a lengthy marriage with perfectly teased drama and affection, Cinnamon Girl nailing the audience’s need for a big chorus they knew and loved and F***in’ Up a stunningly louche and devil-may-care antidote to the demands of modern life.
The epochal My My Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) closed the main set with a specially retooled closing mantra of “don’t say it’s over”, a sentiment shared by all.