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(updated Friday, 19-Jun-2009 07:19:08 EDT)
Late Crazy Horse Set
Just returned from HORDE @ Indianapolis with my family. What a great show!! Today's Indianapolis Star mentioned that everything Neil touches "turns to gold" and his hand's are all over this year's HORDE festival.
What a day -- starting with spotting Ralph Molina in downtown Indy (at Canterbury Hotel -- known as the spot Mike Tyson did his first "dispicable act"). He was having his picture taken with some fans. Later spotted Ralph and Poncho checking out the Train setup. Must be a kick for these guys to be able to mill around among the crowd, unencumbered--just taking it all in; then to be able to go out and rock with Neil.
Zeke was there throughout the day -- I had a chance to say "hi." He is most softspoken, yet quite cordial. What amazed me most was how he transformed instantly right before my eyes when asked a question about the train setup and how disabled children could work it "no matter what". Clearly, this is also a labor of love for Zeke, as well as Neil. Not just the trains, but Zeke's love for them, is a very cool thing to see.
Many good bands are being showcased with Neil at this festival. Toad the Wet Sprocket played some "alternative pop" with real energy and enthusiasm (throwing in a tribute version of Jack & Diane for the Hoosiers and their hometown boy, John Mellencamp). Ben Folds Five was cool. Morphine was a cross between Social Distortion meets Bruce Springsteen.
My favorite was the great group (albeit questionable name) the Screaming Cheetah Wheelies. These guys are from Nashville, Tennessee. They rock with comparisons to the Black Crowes (when they were good), the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd (see their web site).
At a festival like this the bands come out and become "fans" when their set is done -- affording everyone the opportunity to literally visit with them on the spot. It is very cool.
Well, Neil came out at 9:35 pm. Started with a crunching version of Hey Hey, My My. Coming on the heals of last summer's stop here, this crowd was anxiously anticipating Neil in a big way! When Neil and Jewel played Deer Creek last summer, it was easily the best show of the year.
Crime in the City followed, Neil playing with unbelievable intensity. He made this tune much more "relevant" by inserting "the houseboat was surrounded" to connect it to the recent Andrew Cunannan episode.
Both Hippie Dream and Big Time spoke volumes to the many hippie-wannabes in the HORDE crowd (sort of both sides of the same picture). Down By the River served as a fitting tribute to his long-standing association with Crazy Horse. All these tunes were literally taken to a new level--as if Neil is aware of the comments about "safe" setlists on Rust. Yet he plays all of these tunes better and more passionately than ever before -- little nuances added all througout that serve to punctuate the exact mood of the moment and demonstrate that Neil and the Horse are at the top of their game.
Acoustic Neil, alone, served up From Hank to Hendrix, Needle and the Damage Done, Slowpoke (starts like Heart of Gold), and the amazing Ohio. Smiles abounded throughout the crowd. I heard nothing but praise coming from the audience. They seemed to know they were experiencing a rare treat.
Back came Crazy Horse for Sedan Delivery and Tonight's the Night. With Neil calling out "Bruce, Bruce, Bruce" and "pick it up Bruce", he literally scorched this tune. It was as if Bruce Berry was there. It was both eerie and ecstatic at the same time. People were left both drained and amazed. A real rare treat indeed. Neil walked off -- it was obvious he was not done -- the candles still lit, the stagelights still dimly lighting the stage.
Neil came back and commented on how much he enjoyed playing with the Horde festival "all the great bands and all so different. A real personal honor and for me... a real priviledge." Then they launched into Rockin' in the Free World -- seering, swirling, gaining momentum with each verse and then chorus. Neil blistered Old Black until there were no more strings to play any notes. We were all left to ponder about our own priviledge--that of being able to witness Neil literally at his best.
Finally some thanks--to Joe Berkemeier for getting my family and me the tickets. And to Elliott Roberts--who seems to be taking some heat for some reason on the Rust list. The fact is that Elliott has for years now been totally committed to doing two things -- simplifying and protecting Neil's "life". As a result, Neil (because he is free to enjoy his independence and be focussed when he is being creative and/or playing) has truly become a "genius" at both his craft and art.
(more to be added when I can... --RE*AC*TOR)