Neil Young & Crazy Horse Showcase Timeless Rock Mastery In Mansfield

The legendary band proved rock and roll will never die on Friday night at the Xfinity Center near Boston.

By Bryan Lasky May 18, 2024 7:46 am PDT

It’s been far too long since Neil Young brought the mighty Crazy Horse out of the barn to tour. Heck it’s been too long since Neil himself toured. Luckily after a few years of not wanting to tour due to the pandemic and it’s after effects, Neil decided that this was the year to really get back on the road and we should all be thankful.

We’re in the middle of the tour and like any band there might be some off nights. Reports from the second night in New York City earlier in the week said the band wasn’t at it’s best. Having seen them at New Orleans Jazz Fest two weeks ago I was shocked to hear since at the fairgrounds they were fantastic. Well Neil and The Horse pulled into Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts last night and showed they could still burn sheds down to the ground.

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“Cortez the Killer” and “Cinnamon Girl” kicked the show off with a great start, but it was “Fuckin’ Up” where the show came alive. Both Neil and Billy Talbot ripped into the vocals, while Ralph Molina’s drumming had a bit of an extra kick to it. Micah Nelson is the new kid in town, though he has played with Neil plenty, and it seemed that his youth really gave the other three members, Neil is 78 while both Billy and Ralph are 80, a little extra boost of energy. Micah fits in perfectly, taking over for not only the retired Frank “Poncho” Sampedro, but also Nils Lofgren as he is out with Springsteen.

Neil then dedicated “Scattered (Let’s Think About Livin’)” to his old co-producer and friend David Briggs and to everyone else who has a friend out there. One thing Crazy Horse has always done is keep the song going smoothly while Neil rips his guitar apart. While the jams may not have been as long as in past tours, Ralph and Billy can hold that beat forever like few bands can. “I’m the Ocean’ and “Roll Another Number (For the Road”) saw the duo do just that.

The tour debut of “Barstool Blues” came next. Neil seemed to be in quite a good mood as throughout the night. While his train hat covered much of his face with a shadow, his wide grin could easily be seen both during the jams as well as after many of the songs. Being in the audience you also can’t help but smile once he goes into his signature rocking back and forth as he solos while the other three members just keep it steady.

After a great “Mansion on the Hill” and a quick swig of Canada’s own Labatt Blue, Neil roared into “Powderfinger”, much to the crowds delight. Neil was so excited once he started the jam that for a second he had to stop, throwing his arms away from the guitar for a moment before going back into it and taking his first walk away from the mic to stage left while still soloing while the crowd went wild. “Love and Only Love” saw Micah and Neil basically touch their guitars while playing they were so close together, egging one another on to keep going.

Neil switched guitars off stage as Crazy Horse was given a break and he did three acoustic numbers that had almost the entire crowd singing along with him. “Comes a Time”, “Heart of Gold”, and “Human Highway” are always crowd pleasers, but it felt different. Maybe it was because it was taking place in the middle of a Crazy Horse set or it might have been all the lines and allusions of growing older, but the three-song suite was a true highlight and showed how strong Neil’s voice still is after all of these years.

With the band back on the first notes of “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” saw the crowd go wild with approval. After the previous three songs, hearing Neil sing “rock and roll will never die” as he stand up there at almost 80 with two people he’s been playing with for almost 60 years was truly something special. If that doesn’t make you a believer in the power of rock and roll, I don’t think anything will.

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When “Down by the River” started the encore most figured that was going to be it, especially when Micah finally got to let loose on his guitar, and really dug into it, while Neil became the rhythm player for a bit. As the song was ending Neil pointed up and it felt like the show was about to end, but the “Like a Hurricane” flying piano began to descend and the band went right into. An unexpected bonus to cap the night and quite the one-two combo for an encore. Neil tore into his guitar one last time for a lengthy solo moving all over the stage before a full band sludge breakdown that only Crazy Horse can pull off capped the song and the night. Mansfield went wild with appreciation of what they had just witnessed as the band left the stage with Neil saying one more thanks and have a good night. The Horse is alive and well. They may have an off night here and there, but what band doesn’t, and especially at their age, every night should be a celebrated that they can still do this at all.

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Setlist

Neil Young & Crazy Horse
  • Cortez the Killer
  • Cinnamon Girl
  • Fuckin' Up
  • Scattered (Let's Think About Livin')
  • I'm the Ocean
  • Roll Another Number (For the Road)
  • Barstool Blues
  • Mansion on the Hill
  • Powderfinger
  • Love and Only Love
  • Comes a Time
  • Heart of Gold
  • Human Highway
  • Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)
  • Down by the River
  • Like a Hurricane
Setlist data setlist.fm.

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