Alchemy is the classical science of taking heavy, dull materials and turning them into something luminous and valuable.
It’s natural to assume there’s a metaphor in there for Neil Young and Crazy Horse, whose ‘Alchemy’ tour ended last at Bridgeport’s Webster Bank Arena. The rockers, as well as touring partner Patti Smith, are no foals. However they can still light up a crowd like a blazing hot sun.
The concert, which for all intents and purposes was sold out, ended a banner year for the rockers that also included the release of the albums Americana and Psychedelic Pill.
Everest opened the concert with some 90’s sounding rock flair. Patti Smith, herself a huge draw, provided direct support.
Smith and her band played through a set that was high on energy but short on time, ending at what felt like the halfway point. It proved to be quite personal for her, as it was the anniversary of her brother’s death, in the city where her mother was born.
She first took a somber moment to dedicate “Beneath A Southern Cross” to her brother, then revisited his memory on a much more upbeat note during a howling transition between “Horses” and “Rock N Roll Ni**er,” which she shouted was her brother’s favorite song.
Crazy Horse’s two hour, twelve song (plus one encore) set was punctuated with blazing guitar solos. Neil Young, guitarist Frank ‘Pancho’ Sampedro, and bassist Billy Talbot would circle around each other in a seance of guitar shredding, sometimes lasting a solid five to ten minutes.
This practice hit its esoteric height during the set midpoint of “Walk Like A Giant,” which descended into a 15-someodd minute drone session of thundering fuzz bass and slow thuds. Half the audience seemed into it, half seemed alienated, and half wondered if it was a good time for a bathroom break.
The set slowed as Young played his acoustic “Needle And The Damage Done,” “Twisted Road,” and “Singer Without A Song.” Things soon returned to their psychedelic freakout norm, before Crazy Horse plowed ahead to end with the immortal anthem “My My, Hey Hey.” They returned to encore with “Roll Another Number.”