Written by Michael Pittman
Aug 15, 2012 at 08:00 PM
ImageI don’t remember his name so I’ll call him Roy. Roy and I met as we were waiting for the show to start when he leaned over and asked if I could kindly not block his view since he had paid a lot for the seats he had. Live Nation had been kind enough to get us photogs into the pit and while I totally understood Roy’s position, I wasn’t going to miss a good shot so I explained I was there for just the first 3 anyway and wouldn’t be there too long.

Roy and I got to talking about earlier days, as I guess one does at a nostalgic concert like this one. He remembered almost making it to Woodstock and I didn’t remember the Texas International Pop Festival ( 4 weeks after Woodstock)  even though I was there. It was one of those great near-miss conversations and in the end we shook hands and parted friends for life.

Crosby, Stills and Nash. Now there’s a band for ya. Those 3 guys have been a part of my life since that very first record came out and songs like Suite Judy Blue Eyes, Helplessly Hoping and Teach Your Children took the world by storm. All through the protest movement they let their freak flag fly and came back at us in 1970 with the monster album Déjà Vu featuring songs like Woodstock,  4+20 and Almost Cut My Hair.

By that time Stills was one of my guitar heros and this night he wasted no time at all re-establishing himself as he ripped the solo to Carry On up in vintage style right out of the chute. The trademark harmonies still sounded like a choir. Stephen was having a little trouble reaching those high notes at times, but the grit and gravel was still there.

Nashs’ and Crosbys’ voices have always fit like a glove, so well in fact that they have toured and recorded as a duo more than once over the years. Tonight they tore it up consistently but really shined with In Your Name and Guinnevere.  Guinnevere is a difficult song by anybody’s standards, yet Crosby (with Nash) makes it look easy with guitar syncopations and harmonies so masterfully well done it’s like they  introduce this ethereal  3rd voice from outa nowhere.

The concert was in two sets with each set having about 12 songs. I had forgotten how really good those songs are, and yet, as good as they are they are also like signposts. I remember summer evenings on porches and in living rooms jamming to Wooden Ships, Cinnamon Girl and songs like that. By the way Wooden Ships came into being on a sailing trip Stills, Crosby and Jefferson Airplane’s Paul Kantner made.  Imagine being a fly on the wall (or a fish in the sea) for that one.

So it was hit after hit..guitar memory after guitar memory led by 3 guys who are still capable at any time of exploding the airwaves once again. The most recent project is the July release of CSN 2012 and this concerts setlist looks like it was taken right off that 2CD/DVD set with but a few changes. For instance, if you want to hear Wasted on the Way, For What it’s Worth or Suite Judy Blue Eyes you’ll have to spring for the record. Just for the record, going to a CSN concert and not hearing Suite Judy was almost like a day without sunshine and I, like the rest of the sold out Pavillion, hung around well after the final curtain call just to make sure we were there just in case the guys came back out for a 2nd encore.  None to be had tho.

As I mentioned a moment ago, the guys have always been somewhat outspoken in the counterculture and protest movements so it was almost required that Crosby would take the mike and make the short, yet poignant remark that “ I doubt that the founding fathers had in mind that the keys to the kingdom would go to the one with the biggest TV budget”. Other than that, they were pretty quiet and I suppose it was because “We can’t remember what we were angry at” as Crosby put it. With songs like Find the Cost of Freedom, Cathedral, What Are Their Names and Chicago there really isn’t much to add though.

All in all it was a very satisfying night of music and seriously, I had forgotten how good those songs are. One song came around that I had never ever heard live and I was so glad it did. Bluebird, a Stills song from his Buffalo Springfield days was a very pleasant surprise and of course they killed it…nuff said.

All ages, young and old, were there and it just goes to show that good music is just plain good music and that free speech and dissidence just might not be dead yet after all. Great show and thanks again LiveNation!

Set one
Carry On/Questions
Long Time Gone
Just a Song
Southern Cross
Lay Me Down
Marrakesh Express
Almost Gone
Deja Vu
Love The One You’re With

Set two
Helplessly Hoping
In Your Name
Girl From The North Country
What Are Their Names
Find The Cost of Freedom
Immigration Man
Our House
Almost Cut My Hair
Wooden Ships

Teach Your Children
Suite – Judy Blue Eyes (scheduled but not played)