Neil Young and Crazy Horse kicked off their 2013 world tour in Perth, Australia on March 2nd. The set list was almost identical to the 2012 set, though he swapped in “Heart of Gold” for “The Needle and the Damage Done” and added a new song entitled “Hole in the Sky.” It’s a stripped-down (especially for Crazy Horse) track about the environment and how Young’s long-in-the-works LincVolt electric car project can save the planet. It sounds very much like an outtake from his much-maligned 2009 disc Fork in the Road.
The review of the show in the local press was extremely positive, noting that “Young and Crazy Horse displayed the kind of energy and enthusiasm for their craft that should make some of their younger contemporaries hang up their guitars and think again.” The comments on the site, however, tell a very different story. Fans either loved the show or felt it was too focused on new songs and long, feedback-drenched jams. “Surely he could have said that the show will feature just 3 acoustic numbers and concentrate strongly on his most recent album and be played largely in the grunge genre,” noted Australian fan Beats Heaven of Rome. “Three guys masturbating with guitars in a little circle . . . only for the aficionados.”
Casual Neil Young fans have been walking out of his shows disappointed for decades. While his 2008-’09 world tour was focused on his large catalog of hits, most of his outings are centered around new material. This tour even features T-shirts noting “Equal parts past, present and future.” Most fans understand that a Crazy Horse gig means long, loud jams and virtually nothing from Harvest or After The Gold Rush, but many others come to the show expecting to hear the hits.
Commenter “Shave Gove of Down South” called the haters out: “Given that the man – the legend – has released 35 studio LPs, what did you want him to do? Ask for requests? And you reckon THEY were self indulgent? This was a ‘Neil Young with Crazy Horse’ event. That’s what ya got. The set lists of the Alchemy Tour concerts thus far are all available to view on the internet, starting in October 2012, before tickets for the Australian leg went on sale – or is that concept waaaay too modern for you? Yes, better stay home next time and listen to Harvest again. Damn those nasty electric gee-tars.”
If you have any doubts about the quality of the Perth gig, take a look at this video of “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” from the show itself. It speaks for itself.