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Neil Young, Crazy Horse still rockin' in the free world

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:30 p.m.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Neil Young (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Neil Young fans of a certain age and discernment know the significance of Tuesday's concert at the Petersen Events Center.

It's not just Neil Young. It's Neil Young and Crazy Horse, man!

There may be better outfits than Crazy Horse, but there's no one quite like them. Their loose, offhand style, that of a garage band on steroids, has become something of a sonic signature for Young.

Bassist Billy Talbot, drummer Ralph Molina and the late guitarist Danny Whitten first backed Young on his 1969 classic “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.” The album contained three songs that Young had written during a single afternoon when was sick with the flu: “Cinnamon Girl,” “Down By the River” and “Cowgirl in the Sand.” Whitten, who would later die of a drug overdose, proved an able foil to Young's slash-and-burn guitar style, a role that formerly had been filled by Stephen Stills in Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills Nash & Young.

Crazy Horse backed Young on the legendary “Tonight's the Night” and “Rust Never Sleeps,” the 1979 tour de force where Young stood toe-to-toe with the punk-rock barbarians who challenged the relevance of '60s holdovers such as himself.

The band backed Young on his most recent release “Americana,” a collection of electrified reinterpretations of folk songs. However, most of the “Americana” numbers have been dropped from the show, Crazy Horse guitarist Frank “Poncho” Sampedro told Rolling Stone. The tour opened Aug. 3 in Albuquerque with “Mr. Soul.” Other songs on the set list, include “Rockin' in the Free World” and “Like a Hurricane,” Sampedro said.

The tour opened Aug. 3 in Albuquerque with “Mr. Soul.” Other songs on the set list, include “Rockin' in the Free World” and “Like a Hurricane,” Sampredo said.

It's not out of the question that Young and Crazy Horse will preview a few songs from their upcoming double CD “Psychedelic Pill,” which is set for release Oct. 30.

In his new memoir, “Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream” (Blue Rider Press), Young describes his synergistic relationship with Crazy Horse:

“They are my window to the cosmic world where the muse lives and breathes. I can find myself there and go to the special area of my soul where those songs graze like buffalo ... That is the place where music lives in my soul.”

Hey, just as long as it rocks.

Also on the bill are Latin roots rockers Los Lobos, who recently released a 20th anniversary edition of their 1992 album, “Kiko.” Don't ever count these guys out. Their biggest hit, the 1987 cover of Ritchie Valens' “La Bamba,” doesn't do justice to a body of work that includes Tex-Mex, country, R&B and traditional Mexican and Spanish music.

William Loeffler is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at wloeffler@tribweb.com or 412-320-7986.

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