August 27, 2014
Nov 20, 2012
12:05 PM

Neil Young and Crazy Horse prove they can still rock the free world at the ACC

Neil Young: no mere nostalgia act

Even as he inches closer to his 70th birthday, Neil Young isn’t ready to be a stale nostalgia act yet. Young and Crazy Horse’s Monday night show at the Air Canada Centre might not have satisfied those who came seeking old classics, but any true rock fans in the crowd of 18,000 certainly got their money’s worth.

The homegrown 67-year-old folk legend offered up an energetic two-hour set infused by sounds that ranged from punk to country, and everything in between. Also present, of course, were a few signature guitar jams — with at least one of them playing well past the 20-minute mark.

Like Bob Dylan’s disappointing set last week, Young demonstrated a willingness to go against the grain, and he refused to pander to the crowd like a jukebox. Unlike Dylan, however, it was immediately clear that his heart and passion are still very much into what he does.

Young looked perfectly at home all night, jamming with his Crazy Horse bandmates without worrying about a checklist of mandatory songs or a set structure to the show. The faithful ACC crowd was treated to a couple of old favourites, including “Harvest Moon” and “Twisted Road,” but they also got no fewer than six new songs from a group of graying rockers who continue to innovate.

The night was, perhaps, best summarized during the encore, with the band’s hard-rock take on “Helpless.” It wasn’t expected or conventional — it just worked. Young and Co. weren’t looking to rehash a whole slew of oldies; they were simply out to make great music.

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