Neil Young & Crazy Horse, with Sonic Youth and Social Distortion: 3/9/1991

I remember this concert very well. I love Neil Young, and had seen him with Crazy Horse a couple times before this show, but I had not seen Sonic Youth or Social Distortion, and I was pretty psyched that they were fleshing out a solid triple bill (and for only $20!!).

I went with my good friend and fellow musician, Big Ed Stokes (he was morbidly big, which sadly led to his early death not long after this show). Ed was one of the best guitarists I knew, and we spent many long days together playing music and teaching each other songs.

Anyway, we got to the Miami Arena with plenty time to spare, got situated, and waited for the music to start. Social D played first, and they totally rocked it! Straight-ahead rock and roll with a healthy injection of punk. When they finished, all I could think was, “Damn! I’d love to see them as a headliner.” They played a smokin’ version Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” which was mind-blowing. When they finished and the lights came up, Ed and I were both pumped and ready for the next act—Sonic Youth.

What can I say about Sonic Youth? They were one of the most disappointing bands I have ever seen. Maybe my expectations were too high, but the truth is, I thought they sucked. I stood there watching them, as they mindlessly pounded on their instruments, making noise, and rolling around on the stage, getting tangled in their cords. It was like watching a group of morons who were trying to make obnoxious noise to torment those around them. I distinctly recall wondering if they even knew how to play their instruments, because it did not seem like it to me. And after such a great set from Social D, it just made them sound all the worse. I asked Ed what he thought of them, and he said “They fuckin’ suck. I’m getting a headache.” Now Ed never shied away from loud music, so I felt validated. We ended up hanging out in the hallway until they finished playing.

After the Sonic Cacophony ended, we went back inside and waited for Neil. Finally, the lights went down and Neil & Co. exploded on stage with “Hey Hey, My My,” and it was one killer song after another. The high points for me were a powerful cover version of Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and “Welfare Mothers” as one of the encore tunes. I can close my eyes right now, 27 years later, and still picture them on stage, pounding out some of the greatest rock and roll ever. As long as Neil Young is still alive, then rock and roll can never die.

Here is the setlist from the show.

Setlist:

  • Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)
  • Crime in the City
  • Blowin’ in the Wind
  • Love to Burn
  • Cinnamon Girl
  • Mansion on the Hill
  • Fuckin’ Up
  • Cortez the Killer
  • Powderfinger
  • Love and Only Love
  • Rockin’ in the Free World

Encore:

  • Welfare Mothers
  • Like a Hurricane

Neil Young and Crazy Horse: 10/29/1986

CrazyHorse_10-29-86

I had gone to see Neil and Crazy Horse the night before (click here for my memories of that night). I don’t recall as much about this night as the first night, but there are a few things that stand out.

I had second row center for this show, so I was very close to the stage, and the Knight Center was a small venue anyway. Neil and the band played two sets, just like the first night, and mixed up the songs a bit, which was nice. But this evening, there was a special guest.

To appreciate this guest, I need to talk a little more about the stage show. The stage was set up as a garage, which is fitting since Crazy Horse is a garage band par excellence. On the first night, while the band was playing, there were mock phone calls between songs from an irate neighbor insisting that they turn down the music. This was the same during this show, but the voice was different, and familiar, but I could not place it. Even the words sounded familiar: “AHHHH!! OH! OH! Turn that shit down! I’ll come over there and kick your ass, you fucker! AHHHHHHHH!”

When the “irate neighbor” stormed into the “garage,” I immediately made the connection. It was the great comic Sam Kinison, aka the screamer. He got in Neil’s face and screamed obscenities at him while Neil responded by turning his guitar up louder. It was hysterical, and very rebelliously rock and roll.

I had brought a camera in with me (yes, this was before the days of cell phones with built-in cameras). Here is the picture I snapped of the late, great Sam Kinison getting all up in Neil’s grill.

Rock on!

NeilAndSam

Neil Young and Crazy Horse: 10/28/1986

CrazyHorse_10-28-86

I love Neil Young, and while this was not the first time I saw him in concert, it was the first time that I saw him with Crazy Horse. They were scheduled to play two nights at Miami’s James L. Knight Center, so I planned on going both nights. My friend Chris decided to go with me to the first night, so we camped out in front of Record Land and got great seats. Although the ticket says Row B, it was actually front row center! I also got myself a ticket for the second night, but that’s another story.

Chris and I went to the show, along with his then wife, Helene. We took our seats front and center and were very psyched, Neil came onstage with the band and thundered into their first set. They were loud, heavy, everything I expected from Crazy Horse. I looked at Chris, who appeared to be as psyched as I was, and then I noticed his wife, slumped in the seat, asleep. And I was not the only one who noticed this. Neil Young walked up to the front of the stage, looked at her, cranked his guitar a little louder, played a bit, came back, looked at her still asnooze, shook his head, and went back to playing. It was… strange.

They took a break, at which point we tried to wake Helene, but she was out like a light. When the second set started, Neil checked on her again, shook his head, and continued to jam. I wondered how it must have felt, to be playing with all your might, rocking your heart out, and seeing someone in the first row snoring away. It did not seem to faze Neil too much though. The second set was even better than the first. He rocked right up until the final note of the encore.

When the concert was over, Chris and I had to carry his wife out. He lifted her from under the arms and I got her legs. But she decided this was the right time to wake up and started kicking at me. So I dropped her. She got to her feet and had some very unpleasant things to say. I have to say that Chris was very supportive, offing to assist his wife, but she was being pretty nasty. I guess we all have our bad days.

In spite of everything, I had a great time at this concert, and a great story to tell afterwards. But I had a ticket to see them again, the next night! Check back soon for my thoughts on the second night.

“Hey Hey, My My. Rock and roll will never die.”