About four years ago, I was standing in a park in Sweden, waiting for a festival headlining set from Neil Young And Crazy Horse. It never happened. A voice came over the speakers and announced that the band had cancelled their set at the last minute. It turned out that bassist Billy Talbot had suffered a stroke, and the band cancelled all their planned shows. Young has recently been playing with Promise Of The Real, a new band that features two of his friend Willie Nelson’s sons. But last night at Warnors Theatre in Fresno, Crazy Horse reunited for their first show since Talbot’s stroke.
Rolling Stone reports that guitarist Frank “Poncho” Sampedro was absent for unknown and unexplained reasons. Instead, this version of the band featured Nils Lofgren, from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Lofgren briefly played with Crazy Horse in 1971, and he was also a member of the Santa Monica Flyers, the backing band that Young used around the time of 1973’s Tonight’s The Night. (All the living Santa Monica Flyers were in the band last night.) Talbot, from all accounts, has made a full recovery from the stroke, and he was in the band last night.
Crazy Horse apparently didn’t rehearse before last night’s show, but they are an alchemical fuzz-rock institution, and they knew what they were doing. There are some great videos from last night’s show, which featured both Crazy Horse songs and versions of Young’s solo classics. They opened with “Big Time,” which comes from the 1996 album Broken Arrow and which they haven’t played live since 2001. Later on, they also did the Broken Arrow song “Scattered (Let’s Think About Livin’)” for the first time since 2001. But it wasn’t all rarities. They also did hits: “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” “Cinnamon Girl,” a 14-minute “Cortez The Killer.” Watch some fan-made videos below.
The band will return to Warnors Theatre tonight and tomorrow night. Then, this weekend, they’ll play in Bakersfield. After that, their future is uncertain.