STATELINE, Nev. — Leave it to Neil Young to tweak a well-known American folk song with some guitar solos and actually make it better.
While that’s debatable, what isn’t is Young’s ability to venture successfully into many music genres. At the packed Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harvey’s, Young was back to the full-on rock — what most came to witness.
Backed by Crazy Horse: guitarist Frank Sampedro, bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina, Young entertained the packed venue with cuts from the past, present and future — most underwritten by his signature guitar solos.
Young’s career-spanning catalog is vast and that’s just what he’s done with Crazy Horse.
Requests or expectations are useless — Young plays what he wants, when he wants. Young wasn’t that talkative (he never is) but he was having fun onstage with Crazy Horse.
At Tahoe, Young debuted seven songs of the 14 he played, five which were unreleased.
After opening with an extended “Love And Only Love” from 1990s “Ragged Glory,” Young quickly owned the audience with the classic, crowd favorite “Powderfinger.”
He then dipped into the new stuff: the autobiographical “Born in Ontario” (Young’s originally from Canada); and the whistle-acompaniment refrain which worked well in “Walk Like a Giant.”
Young ditched the electric guitar for an acoustic on “The Needle and the Damage Done” and carried that into “Twisted Road” — paying tribute to Bob Dylan especially and others who’d influenced Young’s career.
“Ramada Inn” speaks to relationships and its chorus is vintage Young, one you hum long after the amplifiers fade out.
As the spotlight hit the crowd, not one person was motionless as Young cranked out “Cinnamon Girl,” a song he first performed in 1970.
The show’s peak came as the tempo changed after the lyrics:
“Pa send me money now, I’m gonna make it somehow, I need another chance … you see your baby loves to dance … Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” — followed by the searing and easily recognizable solo that had the whole arena rocking.
Young closed the set with “Jesus’ Chariot (She’ll Be Coming Around The Mountain)” and then “Hey Hey, My My” with its message that rock and roll will never die to which all present were in total agreement.
His encore was also from “Ragged Glory” as Young tore through “Over and Over” before the show — unfortunately — was over.
Set list: “Love And Only Love,” “Powderfinger,” Born In Ontario,” “Walk Like a Giant,” The Needle and the Damage Done,” “Twisted Road,” “For the Love Of Man,” “Ramada Man,” “Cinnamon Girl,” “F*!#in’ Up,” “Psychedelic Pill,” “Jesus’ Chariot,” “Hey Hey, My My” and “Over And Over.”