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Originally published November 11, 2012 at 12:42 PM | Page modified November 12, 2012 at 9:14 AM

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Neil Young and Crazy Horse deliver epic songs in KeyArena show

Neil Young, joined by Crazy Horse, visited his rich musical past and played new tunes during a first-rate show at KeyArena. "Cinnamon Girl" was a hard-rocking crowd-pleaser, while "The Needle and the Damage Done" was performed solo on acoustic guitar and harmonica.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Concert review |

Joined by his famous garage band, Crazy Horse, Neil Young delivered more than two hours of epic songs, quirky humor and powerful, extended jams at a near-capacity concert Saturday night at KeyArena.

The jams were so lengthy that the first hour featured only four songs, beginning with a glorious, distortion-filled "Love and Only Love" that continued for more than 20 minutes.

Many of the tunes came from Young's newly released, two-CD album, "Psychedelic Pill," a riveting collection of story-songs that came out after the release of his autobiography, "Waging Heavy Peace."

The ability of Young (who turns 67 Monday) to create a powerful concert experience hasn't diminished. It was a first-rate show.

Young, along with band members Frank "Poncho" Sampedro (guitar), Billy Talbot (bass) and Ralph Molina (drums), strolled onstage while "The Star-Spangled Banner" played on loudspeakers.

They were dwarfed by giant Fender amps and a towering microphone stand bathed in rainbow-colored lighting — all recycled from the "Rust Never Sleeps" tour of the late '70s. Stage hands in white lab coats adjusted props with clownlike antics. Flanking the stage were two large video screens resembling 1950s TV sets.

Though there was plenty of room to maneuver, the band often played in a tight circle. In addition to "Love and Only Love," the first hour featured "Powderfinger," "Born in Ontario" (a folksy, autobiographical song) and the epic "Walk Like a Giant."

"Walk Like a Giant" was among the evening's most stirring songs, addressing the failed dreams of a generation amid a squall of feedback and a whistled chorus: "Me and my friends, we were gonna save the world," Young sang. "Then the weather changed. ... "

Young revisited the past with "The Needle and the Damage Done," which he performed solo on acoustic guitar and harmonica. He also was alone for the new "Twisted Road," a personal reflection on Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead and Roy Orbison.

Young moved to an upright piano for "Singer Without a Song," a melancholy tune during which a young woman with a guitar meandered about the stage, adding a theatrical touch. "Ramada Inn," another new song, offered a painful glimpse of a couple struggling to keep their relationship from "going south."

"Cinnamon Girl," one of Young's most popular songs, was a hard-rocking crowd-pleaser. And so was the famous 1990 song with the unprintable title (from the "Ragged Glory" album), which prompted a humorous exchange of words and gestures between Young and his fans.

Promising to go "way, way back," Young launched into "Mr. Soul," a classic from his Buffalo Springfield days. He closed the set with "Hey, Hey, My, My (Into the Black)," the 1979 song that helped establish him as the Godfather of Grunge.

Young and Crazy Horse returned for an encore of "Tonight's the Night," the moving title song of his 1975 album.

Supporting Young and Crazy Horse was Los Lobos, which performed an energetic set of blues and Tex-Mex featuring such songs as "Wicked Rain" and "Don't Worry Baby."

Gene Stout: gene@genestout.com

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