It was appropriate that the roadies who set up the stage last night for the Neil Young and Crazy Horse concert at the Wolstein Center wore white trench coats that made them look like lab technicians. After all, the guys were assisting in the experiment that is Neil Young and Crazy Horse, a wildly unpredictable garage rock pairing with over 40 years of history. Sometimes painfully simplistic in its approach, the pairing hasn’t always reaped dividends, but last night’s two-hour show yielded positive results as Young and band effectively conjured up the rock ’n’ roll magic for which they are known.
In typical fashion, Young, who wore old boots and jeans that made it look like he was dressed to work in the factory, didn’t cater to his fans. Rather, he played a majority of the songs that appear on his forthcoming album Psychedelic Pill. Of the new tracks, “Walk Like a Giant” was the one that really stood out as it built into a feverish jam that was amplified when the roadies turned on a fan and started blowing debris across the stage to simulate the effect of a storm. The grunge-y title track also benefited from some special effects colorful lights were filtered something that resembled a kaleidoscope. Young interspersed classics in the two-hour set, too, playing an acoustic rendition of “Needle and the Damage Done” and delivering a powerful rendition of “Cinnamon Girl,” a tune he introduced by saying, “Here’s one I wrote this morning.” For the encore, Young and Crazy Horse delivered their grunged-up take on Buffalo Springfield’s “Mr. Soul” and then finished the show with the light-hearted “Roll Another Number (For the Road).”
Los Lobos opened with a terrific set of songs culled from their catalogue that, like Young’s, stretches back over four decades. They opened strong with “How Will the Wolf Survive” and then turned in a gritty cover of the Blasters’ “Marie Marie.” While some of the intricacies of their blues/Tex-Mex/rock sound were lost in the cavernous room, they still held their own. As did Ifantree, a California-based act that’s clearly been inspired by classic rockers such as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. They started the whole concert off with a 30-minute opening set that showcased their terrific vocal harmonies.