As someone who has collected many a Neil Young bootleg over the years—especially on video—I’m of the opinion that this B&W pro-shot performance from 1976 is one of the very best. Watch it now, it probably won’t be there for long.
Taped during four shows at London’s Hammersmith Odeon that were part of Young’s Europe and Japan tour with Crazy Horse (the music video for “Like a Hurricane” with the famous fan blowing Neil’s hair furiously, as seen in Year of the Horse was shot at one of these shows). A fellow named Tony Fahy was in attendance at all four shows and had this to say in a few consecutive Facebook posts back in 2011 on the Thrasher’s Wheat (a great Neil Young blog) page back in 2011:
Tony Fahy: I was at this gig in Hammersmith. All four in fact! 3 on the last three days of March and the fourth on the 1st April 1976. Best set of gigs I was ever at.
[T]here was a huge fan to the side of the stage, that Neil would just lean into when he played lead. He actually balanced against this ‘hurricane.’ If the fan had been turned off, he would have fallen on his face! The fan was about 5 feet in circumference…if my memory isn’t fooling me. I took a pic, which is still the best I’ve ever seen of Neil leaning in…
There was another guy who was there the first three nights he shouted out for Neil to sing: “I am a child’. Finally on the last night a very loud ‘I AM A CHILD’ was heard all over the theatre….Neil said dryly into the microphone: “Me too, man!”
In those days, there were no bouncers and immediately after the last gig, I waited till the crowd had gone, climbed up on the stage only to run straight into Neil! Had a long chat with him and somehow had the nerve to ask him why he had never played Ireland. He said to me that they had considered it back in Hamburg, but because of what they were reading in the paper about what was going on in Ireland, that they wouldn’t play there!
I said to him: (wherever I got the nerve from): ‘Neil, you should listen to your own songs more!’ ‘I guess you’re right at that’ he said. The next European tour, he did play Ireland. I often wondered if I’d played a part!
Here’s a pic Tony took of Neil leaning into the fan.
The songs included here are “Tell Me Why,” “Stringman,” “Human Highway,” a strong “Down By The River” and then an outstanding rip through “Cortez The Killer.” At the end, the famous clip of Neil Young busking in Glasgow is tacked on.
Neil Young’s “people” are usually super aggressive with YouTube takedowns, so watch this while you can.
And just because I’m feeling nice today, here’s another amazing document of Neil Young from 1976: “The Complete Joel Bernstein Tapes.” Joel Bernstein, as every Neil Young fan knows is Young’s biggest fan and longtime archivist. During the acoustic tour in fall of that year supporting Zuma, Bernstein collected the tour’s very best performances from the set list. Eventually, probably on purpose, the compilation he made “escaped” and became one of the most famous Neil Young bootlegs. The full set list is here.