January 25, 2020

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Evening of chaos-laden nostalgia

Young, Crazy Horse turn back clock at the Burt

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/2/2019 (355 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For Neil Young, the weekend was all about hanging with old pals.

On Saturday, he met his old Squires bandmate Jack Harper and they toured some of their old haunts, including the Crescentwood club, where the Squires performed in the early 1960s, and the house where Young wrote some of his first songs.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Neil Young performs at the Burton Cummings Theatre on Sunday along with Crazy Horse. Young and his longtime backup band will perform tonight at the Centennial Concert Hall.</p>


Neil Young performs at the Burton Cummings Theatre on Sunday along with Crazy Horse. Young and his longtime backup band will perform tonight at the Centennial Concert Hall.

On Sunday, some more old friends, Crazy Horse, the band that Young has collaborated with for five decades, joined Young onstage at the Burton Cummings Theatre, and for a couple of hours, the 73-year-old Young was able to turn back the clock.

With Crazy Horse — bassist Billy Talbot, drummer Ralph Molina and guitarist Nils Lofgren — the result was an evening of chaos-laden nostalgia, with Young acting like the out-of-control genius and Crazy Horse trying to keep up with the boss’s every unpredictable move.

The Crazy Horse set followed a six-song batch of solo songs by Young, highlighted by the classic from Harvest, Heart of Gold, and Old King, from Harvest Moon, Young’s ode to "the best ol’ hound dog I ever did know."

Crazy Horse began with Young’s trademark sequel on his famous Gibson Les Paul guitar — Old Black — and the band getting into the groove of Love to Burn, from Ragged Glory.

Ragged Glory would be an apt name for the concert, as it appeared like four old friends — albeit highly talented friends — getting together to play some songs from the good ol’ days.

They would go on to tackle Mansion on the Hill, an excellent rendition of Winterlong, and three Crazy Horse classics, Cortez the Killer, Cinnamon Girl and the encore, Hey, Hey, My, My.

In an interview with Rolling Stone last week, Young explained his sudden decision to play concert halls and theatres instead of hockey arenas. He said he wanted to visit theatres instead of towns. He got a great view of the Burt on Sunday, although he said they should have named it after the Deverons, Cummings’ band before he joined the Guess Who.

Tonight, he’ll play the Centennial Concert Hall, but it sounded like Young wanted a gig at the recently closed Pantages Playhouse Theatre, which he called a "crown jewel."

"Some of Manitoba’s oil barons should revive the Pantages’ former greatness."

The stage included Young’s usual assortment of vintage amplifiers, a pump organ and Young’s elaborately painted piano.

At centre stage was a lone kitchen chair surrounded by a collection of acoustic guitars and a banjo that were the envy of the cadre of axe gazers who made their way to the edge of the stage between acts.

Meanwhile, the opening act, Peguis folksinger William Prince, showed the audience why he’s one of the next generation of Manitoba singer-songwriters. Manitoba raises singer-songwriters like hockey stars and curlers, but what separates Prince from the 21st-century pack is his silky-smooth baritone, which showed some nice range during his biggest song, Breathless. He’s also got the knack of putting memorable images in his tunes, such as moments in a town fair in his song, The Carny.

Breathless came midway though Prince’s 40-minute set. Singers usually save their best for last, but he had an explanation. "I’m thinking my best song is yet to be written," he said.

Like so many Winnipeggers, Prince has memories as a spectator at the venerable Burt, and his story of attending a Corey Hart concert when Prince was 11 brought some laughs from an encouraging crowd.


Twitter: @AlanDSmall

Alan Small

Alan Small
Arts and Life Editor

Alan Small was named the editor of the Free Press Arts and Life section in January 2013 after almost 15 years at the paper in a variety of editing roles.

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Updated on Monday, February 4, 2019 at 11:55 AM CST: Updates headline

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