On October 5th, 2012 I drove to Kingston to see Neil Young & Crazy Horse. I think this may have been the night that my crew and I searched and searched for a place to eat before the show and found everything full-to-bursting until we somehow discovered a nice, big place that was 100% empty. And yes, the food was good.
And while that may have been another Kingston show I am fairly certain this was the night that we walked into the venue without showing our tickets. One minute we were on the sidewalk outside of the K-Rock Centre and the next minute we were in the lobby looking around for someone to scan our tickets, and there was no one. It turned out we had accidentally entered through the smoker’s re-entry door which, it seems, was unmanned.
So this ticket stub has not been electronically torn in half. You can almost see it.
I can 100% confirm that Los Lobos opened the show, which is always a treat. I watched from a roomy spot midway back on the floor of the small venue, bobbing my head along with their big guitars and biding my time until the great Neil Young took the stage.
When he did it was like stepping back in time, but with a bunch of brand-new material. To wit: Neil was using the massively oversized amplifiers and microphones that he used for his Rust Never Sleeps tour thirty years previously, only this time his stage hands were dressed as scientists instead of Jawas (I’m guessing Disney might have sent a cease and desist letter, but what do I know?).
And in front of these nostalgic props Neil played more than half of the tracks off of his excellent newest album Psychedelic Pill, including the anthemic Born in Ontario, which couldn’t have been played in a more suitable place. Oh, the singing along.
After Born in Ontario Neil played my favourite off the album, Walk Like a Giant, which included a thunderous, sonic-smashing ending that had Neil stomping across the stage, and with every slow, laborious stomp Neil wrenched an ear-piercing atonal chord from his old guitar that indeed sounded like the steps of some horrible giant. It was like the stormy intro to Like a Hurricane, but louder, longer, and much more aggressive. It was glorious, and I bet it sent at least a dozen home for the night.
Which would have been too bad, because he followed up with an acoustic nugget of rugged beauty in the form of Needle and the Damage Done, one of my all-time favourites. “Milk blood to keep from running out.” Who else could write something so horrible so poetically?
After a few heavy favourites like Cortez the Killer and Hey Hey, My My Young encored with the aforementioned Like a Hurricane, with Neil and his band swirling a bunch of noise around until it somehow transformed into one of rock’s greatest melodies.
Thank-you Neil Young, for all you do.