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Neil Young and Crazy Horse in the Hunter Valley March 2013

Another glorious starlit night. The cirrus clouds swept in, but the rain did not.

The audience gathered on the Green on a balmy March evening was anticipating the arrival of the Legend with a distinct frisson of elderly excitement…

The usual Woollahra meets Wahroonga middle class set were less in evidence last night than at previous Clapton,Taylor, King or Santana gigs. Instead, pony tails, dreadlocks and tats were de rigueur for much of this audience of die hard old rockers.

But if they were expecting Heart of Gold and Harvest and a warm and fuzzy acoustic set from a gracefully aged rocker they were in for a rude shock.

In-yer-face grungy, gutsy heavy metal cum neo-punk is this writer’s description of the assault on the minds and ears of the audience. I loved it! It took a couple of numbers for me to get its measure, but by then I was swept into the tidal wave of the music in a some what trance like state.

The set list was pretty much dominated by the 2012 album Psychedelic Pill. But no amount of my previous playing of the album – at whatever volume – prepared me for the business of the night. Some of Quirky’s companions were less impressed and resorted to covering their ears once or twice for fear that the hearing aids already ordered for their twilight years might be needed sooner rather than later…

Some charmingly annoying English guys in the row behind us gave a running commentary on the gig, kind of epitomising the vibe with their vociferous debate about how long was too long for a guitar solo, and continually punctuating the escalating drunken discussion with “it’s Neil Young!” Yes we know! Their good humour and Python-esque banter made for a really great atmosphere and an entertaining evening.

Crazy Horse is a tight lineup. Despite my worries that an ambulance should be on standby in case of heart attack, stroke or burst blood vessels, their energy was phenomenal and the playing consummate – Billy Talbot on bass and vocals, Ralph Molina on drums and vocals and Frank “Poncho” Sampedro on guitar and vocals. The camaraderie between Neil and the band was so obvious  – a regular love-in – as shown in the photo below from the gig.


Yes we did get Heart of Gold, and although I am absolutely converted to in-yer-face rock I’m nostalgic and I just loved the rendition.

Walk like a Giant and Ontario were fantastic, but for me Ramada Inn was the standout. I was only sorry they didn’t do Driftin’ Back, my current listening fave from Psychedelic Pill.


The gig over, the thousands strong crowd made their way to the fleets of buses, with good natured banter, as we patiently waited for the buses to make their slow progress to the exits. Much discussion on the bus home about how loud is too loud, Neil’s faded Aboriginal flag t-shirt and the mysterious bra that appeared on his guitar at the end of the gig….

For me, contented, it was home to bed, the Quiet Space on RN, and the dulcet voice of Paul Gough.


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