Any number of incarnations of Neil Young & Crazy Horse could have shown up to play the Hollywood Bowl last night. They might have done the rock-soaked musical folklore of their most recent LP Americana or the slightly-campy concept rock opera that was 2003's Greendale. They made it quickly apparent, however, that they were there to do Neil Young & Crazy Horse as the grandfather heroes of grunge guitar rock.After beginning the show with a brief (and questionably sincere) salute to the American flag, Young and company launched into "Love and Only Love" from 1990's Ragged Glory. From there the set was a relentless flow of the soaring powerhouse guitar and richly layered jamming that defines the act as one of the heaviest hitting rock acts of the century.
With four decades worth of music behind them, the group, Young, guitarist Frank "Pancho" Sampedro, bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina, could have easily ripped through a greatest hits set. But we all know Young is not one to offer straight crowd-pleasers and half-assed renditions of "Like a Hurricane."
Instead, the nearly two hour show, part of the group's current Alchemy tour, took heavily from the group's forthcoming release, Psychedelic Pill, out October 30. Standout jam "Walk Like a Giant" hovered around the 15 minute mark and like the majority of the new material folded in seamlessly with older songs including "Powderfinger" and "The Needle and the Damage Done." "This is a brand new song I just wrote this morning," Young announced with a grin before launching into "Cinnamon Girl." (This is his favorite recent joke.) The crowd went wild, with much spirited dancing in the aisles and a consistent smell of weed on the night's warm air.