Anyone listening to Time Fades Away, the collection of all-new songs recorded on Neil Young's first-quarter 1973 tour of North America, would believe the legend that this was a tour overshadowed by the death of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten on which Young sang off-key and he and his band played raggedly, if fervently. But a listen to Coming Home, drawn from performances at JFK Center in Washington, D.C., on January 28 and Scope in Norfolk, VA, on January 29, reveals a very different tour. Mostly filled with familiar acoustic-based material that had appeared on Young's popular After the Gold Rush and Harvest albums, it suggests just the sort of show Young might have been expected to put on in the wake of those hit records. He is a tentative, self-deprecating, but winning frontman, finding it difficult to muster the false showmanship needed to introduce his backup band -- "Can't get this MC trip together," he confesses. The album does end with the frantic rocker "Time Fades Away" and "Look Out Joe" (later included on Tonight's the Night, but more timely here, as its coming-home-from-Vietnam theme is keyed to the "end" of the war that had just been announced and was to take effect on the first of the show dates), but the focus is on smooth performances of Harvest songs like "Out on the Weekend" and "Heart of Gold," which have been neglected on Young's legitimate live records.
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