Neil Young has pulled out some stunningly-rare tunes on his solo acoustic theater tour since it began just one week ago, including “Ambulance Blues,” “The Last Trip to Tulsa,” “Broken Arrow” and “Razor Love.” But last night at the State Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he brought things to a whole other level with “Running Dry (Requiem for The Rockets).” The mournful song appeared on his 1969 LP Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, but until Tuesday he’d never played it live even a single time.
The subtitle of the song is “Requiem for the Rockets” since Young pretty much destroyed the obscure Los Angeles rock band the Rockets when he poached bassist Billy Talbot, drummer Ralph Molina and guitarist Danny Whitten to form Crazy Horse. Rockets violinist Bobby Notkoff is featured prominently on the original, which is essentially a funeral dirge to his own band.
Young has eschewed traditional tours in the past couple of years in favor of short runs at select theaters throughout North America. Tickets are offered first to paid subscribers of the Neil Young Archives, making sure that only his most devoted fan can access the best seats. Over the past week, he played two theaters in Wisconsin and three in Minneapolis. The final gig of the solo acoustic tour is tomorrow at the Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis. “I just go from one theater to the next,” he told Rolling Stone earlier this month. “These are palaces for art.”
Just three days after the final solo acoustic show in Minnesota, he’s heading up to his childhood home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba to play two concerts with Crazy Horse. Like last year, guitarist Nils Lofgren is playing in place of Frank “Poncho” Sampedro, who has stepped aside for reasons that have yet to be explained. “I was just conversing with Ralph [Molina] about some of the songs that we’re going to do, and I’m looking forward to it,” Young said. “There’s nothing like being able to get together and play.”
Young has a long history of transitioning between solo acoustic concerts and shows with bands, but he hasn’t done it this quickly since February of 1969 when he performed the Riverboat in Toronto, Ontario by himself and then three days later played the first public show with Crazy Horse at the Bitter End in New York City.