Buffalo Springfield, Gillian Welch @ Santa Barbara Bowl 6/7/11
“You see how it is these days, I was with a friend of mine backstage trying to point somebody out in the audience and I said ‘Oh he’s the one with the gray hair…’” Richie Furay is cracking wise to the Santa Barbara audience, which is, frankly, made up of a healthy percentage of gray-hairs. There’s a genial chuckle through the crowd - and a wail of howling protest from stage left
“NO NO NO NO NO!,” hollers Neil Young, bolting from from the piano, running up to take his mic. “I don’t wanna hear any jokes about being old!” He doesn’t sound like he’s kidding. For the last hour, this band of sexagenarians has been whooping it up like a bunch of ambitious and rabidly competitive teenagers, and Young doesn’t want to kill the buzz by being reminded what year it is.
During its brief existence from Spring 1966 to Spring 1968, Buffalo Springfield recorded three remarkable albums, largely overlooked in their time, which have have since become part of the sixties rock canon. But they also had an electricity on stage, heard in the handful of surviving live tapes from the era, that those albums never captured. Now hitting the reunion trail after a forty-three year absence, they’re still, remarkably, better than the records they made in their early twenties. It’s that rare reunion that delivers on all its promises, gets almost everything right and a few things better.