Neil Young and Crazy Horse

30 July 2003

Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO


When my friend and I saw the booking for this summer's Neil Young and Crazy Horse tour, we were pretty much expecting to see a performance similar to past appearances. We were in for a surprise.

Over the last several months, Neil wrote a number of songs for a an upcoming album. But get this--he decided to make these ten songs the entire set list for the main 1 1/2 hour act on this tour. It gets better--for this tour, he organized what is essentially a rock opera around these carefully sequenced songs, including several mini-stages, about 30+ actors/dancers, and video clips. The ten songs act as chapters in a story set in a fictitional town named Greendale, about a fictitional Green family. I'm not making this up!

Prior to the main act, we arrived just in time to see Lucinda Williams perform the 1996 Tom Petty song, "Change The Locks".

When Neil and band walked on, the story started with a song called "Falling From Above", during which a cynical "Grandpa" mouthed along to Neil's voice, who sang lyrics like, "Seems like that guy singin' this song has been doing it for a long time; Is there anything he knows that he ain't said."

Later came a song called, "Leave The Driving", about a character named Jed Green getting pulled over, while possessing illegal drugs, and a concealed weapon, which he used to kill officer Carmichael, much to the shock of Jed's community. Nicely, Neil Young and Crazy Horse followed this story with a song about the officer, "Carmichael". Later came a tune called "Grandpa's Interview", about Grandpa chewing out Jed at the jail cell, with lyrics like, "That guy just keeps singing, can somebody shut him up? I don't know for the life of me, where he comes up with that stuff!"

As the show displayed more and more brand new songs, some audience members began yelling impatiently. Once, in between songs, Neil said, "I've got a story to tell you if you'd shut up for a minute." His story was about his grandfather who used to spend hours on end at a typewriter. Once, when Neil was three years old, he walked up into the attic to ask whar his grandfather what he was typing, and got a response of, "I won't know until I'm done." His story served to prove that apples don't fall far from the tree.

A new song called "Bandit" featured Neil solo with an acoustic guitar having the low string de-tuned six semitones (down to B Flat!!!)

After a new song solo on a pump organ, Neil returned with Crazy Horse for a story about another grandchild named Sun, with repeating lyrics, "Hey Mr. Clean, you're dirty now too!"

The set ended with an environmental work called, "Be The Rain".

Absolutely amazing set!

For encores, Neil played, "Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)", "Sedan Delivery", "Love and Only Love", "Cowgirl In The Sand", "Powderfinger", "Rockin' In The Free World", and "Roll Another Number", each ending with extensive feedback.

In a 1988 Rolling Stone interview, Neil, then 42 years old, commented on how he sincerely believed that the future offers opportunity to grow and be better than ever. On this current tour, at 57, Neil has kept that promise by reaching a new peak.

[**** 1/2] - Steven T.

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