Scott Kelly and Bruce Lamont play "Cortez the Killer" | Bleader

Scott Kelly and Bruce Lamont play "Cortez the Killer"


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Hernando Cortes was unable to attend
  • Hernando Cortes was unable to attend
Last Wednesday, January 4, Neurosis singer and guitarist Scott Kelly played a solo set at the Empty Bottle. The crowd was small but devoted, and those of us who stayed till the end got a surprise: Yakuza front man Bruce Lamont, who'd opened with a solo set of his own, joined Kelly for a mostly acoustic rendition of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer," adding a tenor sax part, looped horn drones, and harmony vocals. On Tuesday somebody put a great-quality video of the performance up on YouTube.

In retrospect the chord changes are totally familiar, but at the time I puzzled over the long instrumental intro, trying to place it—all I knew for sure was that it wasn't a Scott Kelly song. Two lines after Kelly started singing, I leaned over to Monica Kendrick. "Jesus," I said. "This is 'Cortez the Killer,' isn't it?"

OK, so I'm not the world's biggest Neil Young fan. It's not because he isn't great—there was just so much other stuff to listen to when I was growing up, you know? At any rate, the video is after the jump.

Bruce had some trouble softening up his reed—the horn had been sitting uncased, cooling off and drying out, for Kelly's entire set—and his first two entrances are uncharacteristically rough. (Many years ago I played the bassoon, so believe me, I sympathize.) But after that it's smooth sailing. Or at least as smooth as a song about conquest and genocide can get.

Kelly's voice is about as different from Young's as it's possible for a man's to be, but I think he sells it.

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