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Neil Young & Crazy Horse kicked off their first date into their UK tour in Newcastle on June 10th, then Birmingham on the 11th. These being Neil’s first British tour dates since his Glastonbury headline spot back in 2009, however this particular tour is to mark their latest album ‘Psychedelic Pill’.

Los Lobos started the show, and by my own admission I (and possibly much of the crowd) had only heard of their version of the song ‘La Bamba’. Due to this it’d be crazy to imagine this band supporting the likes of Neil Young, but surprisingly enough they fit rather well with their impressive Latin rock guitar solos, worlds apart from their previous one hit wonder.

As Neil Young and the members of Crazy Horses entered onto the stage, the visual experience of this concert began to take to life. The attention to detail was impeccable from the bizarre scientists, the giant Fender amps, the huge transforming screens and finally the British national anthem filling up the arena with Young seemingly happy to sing along. Their opening track ‘Love To Burn’ was a belting opener at 10 minutes long, the crowd watched in total awe as he sang “Late one night I was walking in the valley of hearts” with a surprisingly youthful voice, barely touched by age or time. A similar theme carried on throughout the concert of the lengthy tunes from his back catalogue with added guitar distortion and sludge in his traditional style.

When you go to a concert, you can sometimes only pray that the band you’re seeing decides to play the hits for singalong purposes. That was certainly not the case with this concert. The songs from ‘Psychedelic Pill’ were flawless, and I’m sure ‘Ramada Inn’ will remain a highlight for many that night. Another particular highlight has to be ‘Fuckin’ Up’ from the ‘Ragged Glory’ record. Neil even encouraged the crowd to sing the lines “Why do I keep fuckin’ up” and “he’s just a fuck up” with a cheeky grin. The only minor disappointment could be the fact they didn’t play certain classics such as ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ and ‘Like A Hurricane’.

It’s certainly true to say that only, and I mean only, Neil Young could keep a packed out arena’s attention for almost 3 hours by including almost entirely 15 minute songs into a set-list. There’s such a unique beauty in his guitar playing which is clearly present in his studio albums, but hearing him live brings a whole new level and appreciation for his talent. I left the concert reflecting on his folk career, and whilst he did play ‘Heart Of Gold’ and a cover of ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, his talent stretches far beyond the likes of an acoustic guitar and harmonica. Maybe his most famous and emotionally charged records were released in the late 60’s and early 70’s, but no matter what anyone says, Neil Young will forever be the king of grunge.

10/10