Written by Mike Arnold
I remember the first time I listened to the harmony of Crosby, Stills, & Nash, they had another member in the band with them which completed their super-stardom of the 70s. Neil Young decided to leave for a solo career and became as popular (if not more) than the group he left. I’m not a huge Neil Young fan, but after witnessing CS&N in concert as the opening act for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, I would have to say without hesitation that I truly missed Neil Young performing with his former band mates.
David Crosby, Stephen Sills, and Graham Nash performed on this night in Nashville, TN as an opening act, but more of a double bill. Their performance lasted 90 minutes, which included an encore of 2 very popular songs.
CS&N took the stage exactly at 7:30pm with the three on electric guitars out in front of a band, which consisted of a Hammond B3 organist, a keyboardist, a bassist, and drummer. I was very surprised to see a full band. Since CS&N were the opening act, I expected an acoustic show of just the three of them, but those in attendance enjoyed the full band sound. As they took their places on the stage, there was nothing special to their entrance, (in fact there was nothing special throughout the entire evening) just talented musicians with beautiful harmonies.
They opened their set with one of my favorite songs of theirs, although it was written by Joni Mitchell, “Woodstock.” There was no hesitation as they continued into the second song of the night with, “Military Madness.”
Graham Nash was out front and center and was the main spokesman for the evening. Actually, the 68 year old Nash had the energetic and outgoing on-stage personality to be in the spotlight.
The 65 year old Stephen Stills showed off his master guitar skills throughout the evening and hardly said a word until it time for him to share his vocals.
David Crosby was 2 days away from his 69th birthday and definitely added to the harmonies along with story telling humor throughout the night.
Graham Nash yelled, “How ya feeling? It’s gonna be a good night!” as the crowd stage lights lit up the arena with the approval from the enthusiastic CS&N fans. The band kicked into a song, which Stephen Stills shined with his guitar skills, “Long Time Gone.”
Graham Nash announced, “We’d like to thank Tom and the boys for inviting us to come along.” He then continued, “Here’s a song written by Stephen Stills from the Buffalo Springfield days,” as they performed their version of “Bluebird.” They continued their set by adding an extended version of “Déjà Vu.”
David Crosby stepped up to the mic to say, “Every year we have this discussion, sometimes it becomes an argument, which one of Neil’s songs are we going to play this time? This one won this time.” The guys took turns on the lead vocals as they performed, “Long May You Run.”
It was now time to focus on their harmony as they performed several acoustic songs, which also included familiar cover tunes. The acoustic set began with a Rolling Stones number, “Ruby Tuesday” and continued with a Bob Dylan song, “Girl From The North Country.”
David Crosby positioned himself with his acoustic guitar on a bar stool. As the spotlight shifted to him and road crew was positioning his mic stand, the crowd began to scream with approval. David said in a light-hearted sarcastic tone, “You don’t even know what I’m gonna play yet!” Stephen Stills left the stage for a quick break while Graham Nash shared the vocals with David Crosby as he started the song, “Guinnevere.”
The band returned to the stage while Graham Nash went to the keyboards as he led the crowd in a wonderful sing-along of “Our House.”
Graham Nash then returned to the front and center of the stage to say, “Here’s a little surprise for you!” and surprise the crowd they did as they performed an excellent version of The Who’s, “Behind Blue Eyes.”
David Crosby took the lead vocals on the song, “Almost Cut my Hair.” When Crosby sang the first line of the song, the crowd yelled with approval, but when David Crosby held the loud long note later in the song with his vocal ability, the crowd picked up the yells to the next level.
CS&N closed their pre-encore set with a long version of “Wooden Ships,” which the majority of the crowd seemed to enjoy. The highlight of this song was the performance from the musician playing the Hammond B3 organ. Graham Nash said goodnight to Nashville and thanked the crowd for being so kind to them.
The loud enthusiastic crowd screamed for more and that’s what they got. It was time for Stephen Stills to take the lead on the vocals as they went into a funky version of “Love The One You’re With.” The trio’s harmony returned for their final song of the night as they also got everyone in the arena singing along with their hit, “Teach Your Children.” They waved and said, “Goodnight Everybody!” as they left the stage for the final time of the evening.
Although I wasn’t particularly fond of the entire show, there were several good moments that I did enjoy. I felt that CS&N could have been much better if they had included more CSN&Y hits into their set. Songs such as “Southern Cross,” “Ohio,” and “Helpless,” was left off the set list and they had the Buffalo Springfield song, “Bluebird” on the set list when the song, “For What It’s Worth” would have been much more enjoyable. There was also too many songs that contained jam sessions, although the songs did show the guitar expertise of Stephen Stills. Several people I spoke with in attendance complained about them performing too many cover songs, although I enjoyed them. The highlight songs of the night for me was “Woodstock,” “Our House,” and “Teach Your Children.” The extended jam sessions were the low-point of the show. Looking back on the entire hour and a half set (which was 30 minutes too long!), I will rate this show as a 6.5 on the Concert Blast scale. James Downing rated the show as a 7.5.
Although I wouldn’t care to see them in concert again, a true CS&N fan would probably enjoy their show very much and I would recommend they see them in concert.
Written by Mike Arnold
Tags: & Nash, & Young, blog, Bridgestone Arena, concert blast, concert review, Crosby, CS&N, CSN&Y, David Crosby, Graham Nash, James Downing, Mike Arnold, Nashville, Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Stills, TN