Alchemy 2013: London June 17 (Godfatherecords G.R. 930/931)
O2 Arena, London, England – June 17, 2013
CD1 (72:26) 1. Intro (A Day In The Life & God Save The Queen), 2. Love and Only Love, 3. Powderfinger, 4. Psychedelic Pill, 5. Walk Like a Giant, 6. Hole in the Sky(previously unreleased), 7. Red Sun, 8. Comes a Time, 9. Blowin’ in the Wind (Bob Dylan cover), 10. Singer Without a Song (previously unreleased)
CD2 (73.54) 1. Ramada Inn, 2. Cinnamon Girl, 3. F*!#in’ Up, 4. Mr. Soul (Buffalo Springfield song), 5. Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black), Encores: 6. Like a Hurricane, 7. Roll Another Number (For the Road), 8. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
As 2012 rolled around Neil Young fans were excited to hear that he was again going to tour with his legendary backup band Crazy Horse after a 10 year break.
But as outlined in this cryptic press release, by Young’s American record label Warner Bros, little did fans know that the thinking was that this tour was the third part of a Rust tour trilogy which included the 1978 Rust Never Sleeps tour and Weld in 1990.
“The third episode of A Rust Trilogy, which began with Rust Never Sleeps in 1978, and continued with Weld in 1990, now concludes with Alchemy in 2012. Things have changed, yet they stay the same. Alchemy, like Rust and Weld, finds the boys at another stage of life’s journey. Time has taken its toll, yet the spirit seems unstoppable.”
This led to much speculation in the press that this may have been the last Neil Young tour with Crazy Horse and sadly for fans the fall 2013 European tour and future U.S. dates had to be cancelled due to a hand injury to guitarist Poncho Samprado. I always found that touring with Crazy Horse seemed to inject new Life into Neil’s playing so let’s hope this really is not their last tour together.
While I love Neil Young’s music I am not what you might consider a hard core fan but I always admired the fact that he was not afraid to mix his set list up from his massive back catalog and not rely on his hit songs just to appease the casual fan and this concert was an affirmation of that practice.
If fans attending were expecting a greatest hits set list they likely went home disappointed as the bulk of the set was made up of a nice mix of acoustic and electric songs from the 2012 release Psychedelic Pill and albums dating 1975 and later. The performance on this night was an intense celebration of fuzz drenched guitars and long solos.
I could really pick just about any song (s) as highlights, as there was not a beer break song in the whole setlist IMHO, but for me the two yet unreleased songs “Hole in the Sky” and “Singer Without a Song” were a nice surprise. I also really enjoyed tonight’s versions of “Ramada Inn”, F*!#in Up, Roll Another Number For The Road and one of my all-time favorite Neil Young songs Cinnamon Girl.
The back of the usual high quality Godfather mini album trifold packaging states this is a Soundboard/ Audience matrix and at times it does sound like a matrix, especially on the quieter acoustic songs, but on the louder electric songs it sounds more like an VG+ to EX- audience recording to me as I could not hear much soundboard influence in the mix. It seemed to be recorded reasonably close to the stage but it had some venue reverb and hollowness you get with an audience recording.
The vocals and guitars are dominant with the drums back in the mix to the point where the bass drum is very muted for most of the songs and the bass guitar is a barely heard rumble in the background. This might be why I found the recording to be overly bright, emphasizing the high frequencies at the expense of any mid frequency warmth, which I found caused listening fatigue at times for me when listened to at high volume.
Despite the brightness of the overall recording at times this Godfather release lives up to their reputation for quality releases and is an enjoyable listen. When you add in the excellent quality of the performance this release will most likely appeal to any Neil Young fan and would make a nice addition to any collection.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)