Neil Young & Crazy Horse @ Forest Hills, NYC – Still Fantastic!

Neil Young and Crazy Horse- Forest Hills Stadium, NYC, May 14, 2024

By Darren Lowe

Neil Young fan and Rhythms reader, Darren Lowe travelled to the USA and made sure he caught up with Neil Young & Crazy Horse in New York!

I have been beyond excited for these gigs, a trip to the Big Apple aside, a chance to see Neil with The Horse was a reason to alter and amend accommodation dates, leaving a month earlier for this trip. Joining Neil Young Archives as a paid member allowed access to a pre-sale. So, after a second show was announced, advice from family, friends and one Rhythms editor my response was ‘What am I even thinking about? Do it!’

The Forest Hills stadium is a converted  tennis stadium, with an intimate feel to the venue, obviously outdoors, a slight problem on the second drizzly evening.

The Love/Earth tour experience featured an array of environmental groups in the entry to venue, with information and signing people up to mailing lists.

Support act Reverend Billy preached in an evangelical format, with a 10-piece gospel choir , complete with duelling Hammond organs.

Neil and The Horse played a two hour concert each evening, with a varied setlist; so, by going both nights I heard pretty much any song I could’ve hoped for. Both concerts featured extended and gloriously fluid versions of ‘Cortez The Killer’, complete with lost verses. ‘Cinnamon girl’, ‘Like a Hurricane’, ‘My My Hey Hey’, amongst the permanent structure of the set

‘Scattered’, dedicated to David Briggs, was beautiful both nights. Songs from Ragged Glory, or if you like the new Fuckin’ Up live remake, were interchanged over the two evenings. There was a deep dive into Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere on Tuesday, with the title track and ‘The Losing End’.

Technical difficulties hampered the sound on Tuesday, with glitches during Neil’s acoustic set of three, with us possibly being shortchanged by a song or two due to blackout during ’Human Highway’. This continued during the final song, pre-encore, ‘My My Hey Hey’, but the band played through.

‘Sedan Delivery’ and ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ rounded off the spectacular, no frills, dare I say ragged show, with both Neil and Micah Nelson breaking two (or three?) guitar strings each.  Sadly, Nils Lofgren chose touring with Bruce and the E street band over Crazy Horse, but Micah’s guitar provided a lovely shredding interplay with Neil. The band were in magnificent form, intros to songs and seemingly moments of extended improvised jamming mesmerizing.

A number of songs were added/interchanged on The Wednesday night, with ‘Dangerbird’,  ‘Down By The River’ and ‘Sugar Mountain’, ‘I Am A Child’ in the acoustic set highlights. In fact, the band returned for an encore of ‘Roll Another Number’, unexpectedly, with many of the audience having left the venue!

Neil’s playing was still fantastic, despite describing difficulties with some hand ailments.

The US concert experience was interesting for someone who hasn’t experienced this for a few years. From the unrestrained hooting, blatant and persistent unofficial t-shirt sellers and the presence of young people (younger than me anyway!) actually excited by Neil and being familiar with his material, made this a different concert experience.

The added, very vocal excitement at The Knicks lead at the end of the third quarter, in wonderfully rich New York accents only added to the experience.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get tickets for Sierra Ferrell, about three blocks away from my accommodation in the East Village, but I am going to The Stones next week. I think in the US, that is going to be an experience!