sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

August 16, 2005

harmonic jamming
posted by soe 11:52 am

David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash have not lost their voices nor their ability to kick it up a notch even after 35 years.

I got the chance to see them perform Saturday night at Wolf Trap and was pleasantly surprised to still hear the pitch-perfect harmonies I have come to associate with their music. It would not have surprised me if years of smoking or drinking or living hard had forced them to revamp some of their songs, but that just wasn’t the case.

Because I had been more aware of their folky side, I was impressed by their ability to rock out and jam on the guitar sections of their songs.

Their concert was an ideal mix of the two. And they nicely combined familiar material with more recent solo and duet efforts to make for a show that. while rooted in the past, showed they weren’t interested in relying just on their repertoire.

They opened strong with “Woodstock” and “Marrakesh Express.” They then moved on to some of their quieter songs as well as some I wasn’t familiar with. I liked some of the new songs they played, particularly “Lay Me Down” and “Feed the People.” “Don’t Dig Here,” on the other hand, went on too long. I kept being surprised it was the same song.

Other old favorites they played:

“Wasted on the Way”
“Just a Song Before I Go”
“Helplessly Hoping”

In particular, the end of the second half of the show rocked, with “Southern Cross” and “Love the One You’re With.” They ended the show with “For What It’s Worth” and “Teach Your Children.”

I’m pleased they played “Daylight Again,” since their a capella harmonies at the end are sublime — probably the best I’ve ever heard.

David Crosby, in particular, still retains his dulcet tones and I find I could listen to him sing just about anything. Ballads, up-tempo tunes, commercials — I’d tune in and sing along on any of those if David were fronting them.

Graham Nash seemed to be the emcee for the night. He’s very comfortable talking with an audience, and, as we all know, it’s the between-song chats that really differentiate a live performance from a cd. Or, at least, that’s what someone who grew up on folk music believes.

Stephen Stills looked like he was trying to stay out of the limelight, except when it came time for the guitars to do the talking. And then he jumped right into the mix.

Filling in for the guitar of Neil Young was Crosby’s fellow CPR bandmate, Jeff Pevar, who fit in with the band well.

As an aside, I’d like to urge people who buy lawn tickets to concerts and then proceed to talk through them to consider purchasing a greatest hits cd, popping it into the car or boom box stereo, and plunking themselves down in Rock Creek Park, where they can chat to their hearts’ content. I go to concerts to listen to the musicians, not to my neighbors. I can sit in Dupont Circle for free if I want to people watch.

I’d also like Wolf Trap to consider upgrading the speaker system for the folks sitting in the peripheral sections of the property. You just can’t hear the banter and you miss key things like song titles or whose album songs are on. Yes, you can still hear the music, but the quality is compromised. If you’d agree to upgrade those things, I’d be happy to consider a donation.

But those things aside, I had a great time at the CSN show. Sure, they could have played “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” or “Our House,” but I was okay that they didn’t. And, yes, they could have come back out for another encore. But it was kind of refreshing that they only returned once, leaving the audience wanting more.

If you’re thinking about catching them later this summer, do. Well worth the money. And you’ll come away with a renewed appreciation for how much rocking these guys still have left in them.

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