Coming Back To Winnipeg…Where It All Began (Golden Eggs EGG88/89)
Centennial Convert Hall, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – February 4, 2019
Disc 1 (58:56) Out On The Weekend, Distant Camera, War Of Man, Old King, Green Is Blue, Don’t Let It Bring You Down, Journey Through The Past, Rockin’ In The Free World, Danger Bird, Wonderin’, The Losing End, Roll Another One
Disc 2 (54:16) Winterlong, Cortez The Killer, Fuckin’ Up, Like A Hurricane, Hey Hey My My (Into The Black). Bonus Tracks: State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN – January 29, 2019: Cinnamon Girl, Running Dry (Requiem For The Rockets), Harvest
In January 2019 Neil Young embarked on a short run of acoustic solo dates in the Mid West section of North America, Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin and Minneapolis, Minnesota with two final dates in Winnipeg, Canada, the city that he spent much of his early life in. For those who do not know, these cities get extremely cold in the winter months, no concern to the 73 year old Young. Curiously the two dates in Canada were to feature both solo acoustic material plus an electric set with his seminal band, Crazy Horse. This new line up of Crazy Horse features multi instrumentalist Nils Lofgren rejoining bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina, of course Nils replaced guitarist Poncho Sampedro who retired from the road. A month or so after these dates with Crazy Horse, the band announced they would be releasing a new record later in the year, their first since 2014’s Psychedelic Pill.
The two concerts in Winnipeg were performed in two different venues, February 3 was at the Burton Cummings Theatre for the Performing Arts, the second at the Centennial Concert Hall, an intimate 2,300 seat venue and is the subject of this new release from Golden Eggs. The source is an excellent soundboard recording, the concert was streamed so I am assuming this is the audio from it, nonetheless it’s superb, so one can give thanks to the Neil Young Archives. The concert format for this concert is a 30 minute acoustic set followed by a full electric set by Crazy Horse.
The acoustic set has the typical intimacy one would expect from Neil in a small theatre, the set lists for both nights were similar featuring songs from his early solo work, Out On The Weekend from Harvest is the opener. War Of Man and Old King from his 1992 record Harvest Moon easily blend with the 70’s material. Don’t Let It Bring You Down from the brilliant After The Gold Rush is the penultimate song, the aptly played Journey Through The Past is the final acoustic number. The set up for the electric set is fast as Crazy Horse takes the stage with Rockin’ In The Free World, the song was once a rally cry for the end of the Cold War, while Neil does not sing with the venom of the 80’s, the song still retains its original message. The band play two songs from the 1973 classic Zuma, Danger Bird and the epic Cortez The Killer, both have that hazy dreamlike quality as if the music floats around you.
The abrasive Fuckin’ Up evolves into a feedback garden of sound that envelopes the audience and listener and is the final song of the set. The encores are superb, Like A Hurricane is one of his greatest compositions, his guitar leads sear through the music storm like in nature. A nice grungy fuzzed out version of Hey Hey My My ends the concert proper, Rust never does sleep.
There are a few bonus tracks from the third solo acoustic concert in Minneapolis, Young performed a total of four concert in the city, all in different venues. The source is an excellent soundboard certainly taken from the live video stream, the quality is equal if not surpassing the previous material. Cinnamon Girl was the opening song of the concert. The highlight of this recording and the first ever live recording of Running Dry (Requiem for the Rockets) from his second solo record Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, his first LP featuring Crazy Horse. The simple Americana classic Harvest is the last number, the acoustic material bookends this release bringing the music full circle.
The packaging is the standard tri-gatefold sleeve features live shots from the concert, curiously the interior shows a picture of the Burton Cummings Theatre. The sound is superb, the performances are equally superb, this is certainly a release that Neil collectors cannot go wrong with.