15 July 1998
Grizzly Rose, Thornton, CO
I was on my way back from a West coast automobile trip, and decided to stop in Thornton, CO, on the way back, to see my favorite singer/songwriter/guitarist. The show was pretty much the same format as his 1995 Grizzly Rose Show. This review will serve to highlight the few relatively unique aspects of this event.
Though billed as "Stephen Stills", tonight's concert included the same lineup of competent personnel from his 1995 show, including Keyboardist Michael Finnigan, Bassist Gerald Johnson, and drummer Joe Vitale. However, this time Stephen added blues guitarist Doug Hamlin, who, believe it or not, also plays in actor Bruce Willis' band.
Unlike several Stills/CSN shows over the past dozen years, Stills chose not to open with "Love The One You're With", but rather chose his typical closer, "Woodstock" to start. Additionally, Stills added two new songs to his setlist. One was a hard-rocker in the key of D titled, "No Tears Left": "I have no tears left, and I ain't done yet, what do I have left?". Immediately afterward came a beautiful latino-Stills number in the key of G: "Acadienne", complete with authentic, original Spanish lyrics.
Not to be unexpected, this Stephen Stills show included its usual dosage of akwardness. At several points during the opening few songs, Stills repeatedly gave hand signals to the sound engineer, indicating that he couldn't hear his acoustic guitar. Later, right after the first verse of "Change Partners", he yelled very loudly over to the sound engineer, "Please turn down the guitar as it is feeding BACK!" Having created an eerie silence in the audience, Stills and band pressed on with the second verse without skipping a beat. However, this disruption severed the spiritual continuity of this live version of his 1971 hit. However, I'm sure most people saw humor in the outburst, appreciating how it truly reflected the coarse side of Stills' personality.
Michael Finnegan was in top B-3 Organ and vocal form, taking lead on two consecuitve tracks, "Born Under A Bad Sign", and a excellent blues selection in the key of C.
Joe Vitale was nice to throw his drumsticks out into the audience following the show--I was able to catch one of them--the wear and tear definitely shows what kind of workout he delivers night after night.
Doug Hamlin was nice enough to chat with audience members after the show. He seemed a little reserved, but polite nonetheless.
My hope is that Stills will put some of his fine new tracks onto some kind of new album.
[***1/2] - Steven T.
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