With a capacity of 5000, tonight’s Neil Young & Crazy Horse at Melbourne’s Plenary Hall was the smallest room Young has ever played in Australia. Every other show to date has been arenas. The Plenary show was billed as a special show and indeed it was because Neil was making a movie.
Neil Young’s Shakey Pictures filmed this Melbourne ‘Alchemy Tour ’ show for their next concert documentary and by the set and the setlist you can expect ‘Alchemy’ the concert movie to be ‘Rust Never Sleeps II’.
Tonight, Neil Young fans got to see him up close and personal for one of his most ferocious shows ever, with thanks to his band of pitbulls, Crazy Horse. I challenge any musician even two thirds younger than 67-year old Neil Young to go a few rounds with him on stage. He would destroy you musically.
I’ve seen Neil Young on every one of his Australian tours and by far this was his most powerful. In total, three hours from head to toe. Neil Young & Crazy Horse were like a hurricane this evening. Tonight he was totally switched to 11.
Let me start at the end. After ‘Cinnamon Girl’, Young threw away the standard setlist played in Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney and played a completely unique set with a few rarities over the extended hour. All of the other shows ran for two hours and 20 minutes. This one was exactly three hours.
‘Fucking Up’ and ‘Mr Soul’ from the previous shows were dropped. Instead we were served the extremely rare ‘Zuma’ tracks ‘Barstool Blues’, only played three times live since 1996, and ‘Danger Bird’, played just 40 times ever and prior to tonight last in 2004.
The show opened with The Beatles’ version of ‘A Day In The Life’ to visuals of Einstein type characters in lab-coats arranging the set. (Think the template of Rust Never Sleeps movie). Then the Australian National Anthem ‘Advance Australia Fair’ was played to a backdrop of the Australian flag.
Then Neil Young, Frank ‘Poncho’ Sampedro, Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina came on stage. Crazy Horse last toured Australia for Young’s ‘Greendale’ tour in 2004 but Poncho wasn’t on that album or tour, so this line-up of Crazy Horse has not toured Australia since 1985. Frank did tour Australia with Neil as a member of The Lost Dogs in 1989, but Billy and Ralph with missing in action for that tour.
“Thanks for coming down here. The fact you found the place is unbelievable,” Neil said at the start alluding to the “off the beaten track” location the recently constructed The Plenary was built in. (NB: His comment was very funny to the people of Melbourne).
The setlist for March 13, The Plenary, Melbourne was:
Love and Only Love (from Ragged Glory, 1990)
Powderfinger (from Rust Never Sleeps, 1979)
Born In Ontario (from Psychedelic Pill, 2012)
Walk Like A Giant (from Psychedelic Pill, 2012)
Hole In The Sky (new, unreleased)
Heart of Gold (from Harvest, 1972)
Twisted Road (from Psychedelic Pill, 2012)
Singer Without A Song (new, unreleased)
Ramada Inn (from Psychedelic Pill, 2012)
Cinnamon Girl (from Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, 1970)
Cortez The Killer (from Zuma, 1975)
Danger Bird (from Zuma, 1975)
Barstool Blues (from Zuma, 1975)
Prisoners of Rock and Roll (from Life, 1987)
Opera Star (from Re-ac-tor, 1981)
My My Hey Hey (from Rust Never Sleeps, 1979)
Sedan Delivery (from Rust Never Sleeps, 1979)
Like A Hurricane (from American Stars N’ Bars, 1977)
Remaining Neil Young & Crazy Horse tour dates are:
March 15, Melbourne, Rod Laver Arena
March 16, Geelong, The Hill Winery, A Day On The Green
March 19, Wellington, TSB Arena
March 21, Auckland, Vector Arena