Los Lobos, are known for one song, let’s be frank about this. Everybody knows “La Bamba” and god almighty if the fella next to RTM doesn’t keep shouting for it. “La Bamba” he yells, before looking round first at us, then his mate and grinning.
Said chap had already announced that the band were no good and had no business being on the same stage as Neil Young And Crazy Horse, On this – and it transpired during the course of the evening many other things – this bloke was just plain wrong. Lobos, it actually turned out, were very good indeed. Spanish tinged, as you might expect, but really bluesy, which may come as a surprise. They play a Johnny Thunders song and a chap toots away on a saxophone and they are excellent for 50 minutes. Even better they don’t play the aforementioned hit and our new mate can’t quite believe it. “They didn’t play La Bamba…?” he asks, repeatedly, shaking his head.
He and his mate have disappeared by the time Neil Young and Crazy Horse appear onstage, which is a shame, because RTM needs somebody to explain the opening. Four or five chaps appear dressed as mad scientists and run around. A bloke in an orange jacket then starts lifting the stage set of giant amps, up on a crane and then the band appear while the National Anthem is played. The whole thing, frankly, was pointless and boring appearing unnecessarily self-indulgent. As an indicator for what happened throughout the next 145 tedious minutes, you will not find a better one.
Young opens the set with “Love To Burn” it is an excellent song, but it drags on for well over 10 minutes and appears lost in jamming and feedback, which is clearly how Young wants to play these songs as it happens time and time again. To our mind this spoils the flow. For example, “Walk Like A Giant” starts off as epic and brilliant, but by the time it ends it becomes drenched in noise as layers and layers of guitars are added over the top.
Oddly, the gig is at its best when all this is stripped away and it is just Young, his acoustic and a mouth organ, “Heart of Gold” and the Dylan cover “Blowin’ In The Wind” are superb – as is the previously unreleased “Singer Without A Song” – one of two new songs that are played, the other “Hole In The Sky” sounds just like Nils Lofgren - which features Young tinkling away on his piano.
After this things go awry, “Ramada Inn” goes on and on (and on) and “Fuckin Up” which had started well, begins to annoy us during the 10 minute call and response section. “Cortez The Killer” and “Hey Hey My My” redeem things slightly, but to be blunt, RTM is bored before the encore of “Powderfinger”
This is the first time we have seen Neil Young And Crazy Horse. There won’t be a second. A night that promised much and delivered annoyance.
“La Bamba”, as the bloke who was next to us at one point is probably still saying.