Neil Young bringing animal magic to Glasgow

Veteran rocker Neil Young has been horsing around with Crazy Horse for almost half a century, but now he's trying a different kind of animal magic.

Neil Young at the SECC in 2013.
Neil Young at the SECC in 2013.

The 70-year-old is playing in Glasgow this weekend as part of the five-date UK leg of his Rebel Content tour, but he’ll be accompanied by a different backing band this time round, Promise of the Real.

The Canadian singer-songwriter can be seen in the city at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre’s SSE Hydro Arena on Sunday, June 5.

English folk singer Laura Marling, best known for her 2007 No 7 hit 5 Years Time, recorded with Noah and the Whale, will be supporting.

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    Promise of the Real are a Californian rock band formed in 2008 and consisting of brothers Lukas and Micah Nelson on vocals and guitar, Anthony Logerfo on drums, Corey McCormick on bass and Tato Melgar on percussion.

    Besides touring with Young and playing on his last album, last June’s The Monsanto Years, a No 24 hit, they have also previously performed with Lukas and Micah’s father, country-and-western legend Willie Nelson.

    Promise of the Real have already been out on the road with the veteran rocker in the US, playing both tracks from their album together, including Wolf Moon and People Want to Hear About Love, and Young classics such as After the Gold Rush, Helpless and Powderfinger.

    This will be Young’s fifth visit to the SECC, following previous concerts there in 1993, 1996, 2001 and 2013, and his sixth Glasgow show altogether, the others being in 1973 and 1976 at its Apollo Theatre.

    Since his last SECC show, the ever-prolific Young has released no fewer than three albums. Besides The Monsanto Years, his 36th LP, he has put out A Letter Home and Storytone, both in 2014. The former, a collection of cover versions including songs by Bruce Springsteen and Tim Hardin, made it to No 17 and the latter to No 20.

    Young’s most successful albums this side of the Atlantic include Harvest, a No 1 in 1972, and Sleeps With Angels, a No 2 in 1994, along with Mirror Ball, a No 4 the year after, and After the Gold Rush, a No 7 back in 1970.

    His only hit singles of note over here are Heart of Gold, a No 10 in 1972, and Harvest Moon, a No 36 21 years later.

    Young’s next release – out on Friday, June 24, on Reprise Records – will be Earth, a live double album recorded with Promise of the Real last year featuring, somewhat eccentrically, overdubs of animal and other noises.

    The 13 tracks on it are Mother Earth, Seed Justice, My Country Home, The Monsanto Years, Western Hero, Vampire Blues, Hippie Dream, After the Gold Rush, Human Highway, Big Box, People Want to Hear About Love, Wolf Moon and a 29-minute version of Love and Only Love.

    Bears, birds, crickets, bees, horses and cows are among the creatures featured among the added sounds.

    Young explained: “98 uninterrupted minutes long, Earth flows as a collection of 13 songs from throughout my life, songs I have written about living here on our planet together.

    “Our animal kingdom is well represented in the audience as well, and the animals, insects, birds, and mammals actually take over the performances of the songs at times.”

    Young is also playing in Belfast on Tuesday, June 7; Dublin on Wednesday, June 8; Leeds on Friday, June 10; and London on Saturday, June 11.