Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
29 April 2002
Rose Garden, Portland, OR
Because of influenza Neil had to ask the guys to postpone their scheduled 17 March 2002 concert until 29 April 2002. As a result, this show turned out to be the last of their 2002 "Tour Of America". We could sense a feeling of accomplishment and relief from the four principals.
My Portland area friends again took me under their wings and were great company as always. The fact that we're all related is, to a large extent, only coincidental. We happen to get along very well, and we have a good number of things in common.
CSNY allowed several non-profit organizations to table the event. These included the Bridge School, The Stephen Stills Children's Music Project, and others promoting human dignity, environmental preservation, etc. Besides serving their individual respective purposes, they also highlighted how much of what these guys are all about is caring.
The stage featured a backdrop having a mockup of a NYC bulletin board, with hundreds of photo-copied Missing Persons pictures. This visual is similar to the Vietnam Wall in that the most unsettling aspect is that there are too many people on it.
Opening song: "Carry On". And, though CSNY also opened their 2000 tour with "Carry On", this tour's version was in the key of D (vice E), and continued into the nearly-psychadelic "Questions". This key change, along with others ("I Used To Be A King" in D vs. C, "Military Madness" in A vs. C, "Old Man" in C vs. D) proved to optimize their respective vocal ranges.
This tour, somewhat (but not completely) by coincidence, ended up promoting Neil Young's recent release, Are You Passionate, with four songs, "Goin' Home", "Your My Girl" (about his daughter going to college), the 9/11-inspired "Let's Roll", and "Two Old Friends" which, despite its title, is not about his 38-year-long friendship with Stephen Stills.
Stephen chimed in with an anthemic new song, "(Why Don't We) Feed The People (Everywhere And Let The Peace Begin)", which offers Southern Cross-ish guitar strumming, and plenty of ticket-payer motivation for arm-waving. Another very nice treat from Stephen was a cover of "Keyboard Meistro Booker T. Jones"'s "Ole Man Trouble", with Stephen on electric piano, and Booker T. himself on organ. I have to say that this song is perfect for Stephen's bluesy tendencies and vocals, and I can't wait to hear it on his upcoming CD (in the "works" for 10+ years now).
Some of the CSN songs performed on this tour have become almost over-routinized. "Southern Cross" is, and always has been, difficult for them to vocalize on. Stephen's guitar work on "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes", though probably tops in garnishing audience response for the evening, appeared as easy as falling off a stage for Mr. Stills. "Our House" and "Guinnevere" got probably the second- and third-strongest audience reactions, respectively, mainly because of their nearly fool-proof enjoyability in a basketball arena.
"Lee Shore" offered a surprisingly delightful arrangement. "Rockin' In The Free World" offered not only Neil's trademark feedback, but also a lead-guitar version of Taps, at the end of the third set.
The encore of "Eight Miles High" was, honestly, less interesting than any Roger McGuinn concert version. It's a Byrds song, and the Byrds aren't the Byrds without Roger McGuinn. That's the honest truth.
"Long May You Run" may prove to be the last song they will have performed together for a long time. It has kind of an ironic history behind it--Neil wrote it about a car that broke down on tour very early in his career, and it was the title of the 1976 Stills-Young album that arrived in stores shortly after an enormous tour of sold-out dates ended abruptly with Neil and Stephen not talking to one another for months.
Okay, here's the setlist:
Perhaps the most significant observation I made about this show was how Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, along with backing musicians Booker T. Jones, Donald "Duck" Dunn, and Steve "Smokey" Potts, performed like a team, with the goal of having fun. If you've never read anything about CSNY and only saw tonight's performance, you'd leave with the impression of them as being only the most supportive of friends and colleagues. I guess 30+ years was worth the wait in this circumstance.
[**** 1/2] - Steven T.
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