Crosby, Stills & Nash

26 June 2008

Convention Centre, Denver, CO


As part of a Summer Tour, CSN performed a benefit concert for the American Transplant Foundation, which David endorses for obvious reasons, given his receipt of a donor liver in 1994.

Tonight's venue was the same Theatre Neil Young performed at late last year, the Wells Fargo Convention Center in Denver, CO.

Almost a year after Stephen Stills appeared solo on Colorado's Front Range, Stephen brings, with CSN, a version of the band he toured with, including long-time drummer Joe Vitale, organist Todd Caldwell, and bassist Kevin McCormick. CPR keyboardist James Raymond also joined the stage. Aside from Vitale and Raymond, the lineup is relatively new to the CSN fan base, and this relative lack of familiarity may explain why their sound seemed significantly turned down in the mix.

As a result, CSN vocals emerged like they hadn't since touring acoustically in the early 1990s. When CSN are allowed to sing without being blasted by aggressive accompaniment, their live performances benefit greatly. Stephen, in particular, sounded the best I've heard in over 15 years. Graham sounded as strong as ever, and alive as ever.

David sounded and looked a little tired. Either because of his voice or the sound engineers, David's vocals seemed slightly diminished and occasionally flat in the mix, producing a blend that was reminiscent of the early 1980s when, quite frankly, Stills & Nash carried the sound through some rough, drug-addiction times for David. Stills & Nash sounded great together, and when David took lead vocals this evening, he was somehow able to find the strength to evoke energy.

Stills brought, from his Manassas days, "Isn't It About Time", and Graham introduced a wonderful, relatively new song called "In Your Name", asking questions such as, "Lord can you help me, help me deal with this pain, can you stop all this killing in your name?"

Aside from the above two tracks, the rest of the setlist was standard CSN fare from this decade. The vocal-centric mix opened with a delightfully mellow "Marrakesh Express", followed by classics such as "Love The One You're With", "Long Time Gone", "Wooden Ships", "Immigration Man", "Deja Vu", and "Southern Cross". The Stills/Nash single "Wounded World" from 2005 appeared as well.

CSN performed "Chicago" with the main title changed to "Denver", reflecting the location of the 2008 Democratic convention, 40 years after the 1968 Democratic convention held at the location of the song's original title.

As with the CSNY 2006 Freedom of Speech tour, during "Military Madness", Graham Nash sang, "I don't believe that this war is over, until the body count is finally filed, and I hope George Bush discovers, what's driving the people wild....."

After a break, the three stood around one microphone, with Stills picking a Gretch White Falcon guitar, and harmonized nicely to "Helplessly Hoping" and "You Don't Have To Cry". David sang "Delta" this time with Raymond on nicely jazzy keyboards. One down side of the quieter mix was the opportunity for drunk fans to damage the house sound.

The 2004 Crosby/Nash single "Lay Me Down", "Guinnevere", a James Brownish "For What It's Worth", "Our House", "Almost Cut My Hair", and "Teach Your Children" rounded out the evening.

The band survives in its 40th year, and continues to inspire on musical, political, and emotional levels.

[****] - Steven T.

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