Musical protest therapy

REVIEW: DON T SPOOK THE HORSE NEIL YOUNG TRIBUTE BAND @ The Junction, June 15 SURPRISINGLY for a tribute show, the primary passion that bound tonight s audience was not the musician. Despite the presence of many faded Neil Young T-shirts from tours dating

REVIEW: DON'T SPOOK THE HORSE NEIL YOUNG TRIBUTE BAND @ The Junction, June 15

SURPRISINGLY for a tribute show, the primary passion that bound tonight's audience was not the musician.

Despite the presence of many faded Neil Young T-shirts from tours dating back many years - the focus of the night was the Arts Therapies Department at Fulbourn Hospital.

The department is facing big cuts in its budget and many people connected with the department were supporting the show. Bassist John Preston has worked as a music therapist for five years and had organised the show as much as a protest as a fundraiser.


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Of all the great rock songwriters, none has the emotional depth and punch of Neil Young's haunting tracks. His music is the last to need another level at which to appreciate it - but tonight many of his songs surely lent a voice to those at Fulbourn Hospital.

The melancholy Don't Let It Bring You Down was an apt and heartfelt opener from Neil's classic After The Gold Rush album. That album's title track was later perfectly played with just a guitar and the most delicate singing and left an immediate and lasting impression.

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To a huge Neil Young fan such as I, the night's setlist was a dream. It reminded me that the great thing about tribute acts is that by their nature they're closer to understanding what the fans of the music would want to hear. All the most obvious classics are played, but they were complemented by a superb pick of his hidden gems. Four Strong Winds is one of my all-time favourite Neil Young tracks - and although he didn't write it, it's included and played perfectly. On The Beach is a dark, brooding masterpiece that I can't ever imagine the man himself playing at one of his shows.

Other poignant standouts were protest songs Ohio and Let's Impeach the President. The first was written soon after the killing of four American college students at an anti-war demonstration in 1970 - the latter is from his latest album, is in the charts now and speaks loudly for itself.

It wasn't all so serious though - the atmosphere was always lively and Neil's humour was ever-present in the form of a giant replica microphone taking centre stage. These four talented fans succeeded in bringing his spirit to Cambridge and I very much hope they return.

CHRIS BOLAND

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