Crosby, Stills & Nash
12 September 2009
Edgefield Lawn, Troutdale, OR
I've been to countless concerts, and truly only a handful have benefited from exceptional outdoor scenery. Tonight's venue, in an open field surrounded by botany, reminds me a lot of Hudson Garden's in Littleton, CO, though the venue's name is somewhat confusing. The so-called "McMenamin's Edgefield Concerts On The Lawn At Troutdale", about ten miles East of Portland South of the Columbia River, has pretty foliage everywhere, even behind the stage.
Friends and family brought me along to this show, and we were able to get nice seats.
Amidst implicit expectations to parade their Summer 2009 tour as a 40th Anniversary celebration, earlier this year Crosby Stills & Nash indicated that their tour would emphasize a new "acoustic album of cover songs", due for recording in January 2009. However, now in September near the end of their tour, no such album is complete, and instead the tour merchandise appears to focus on solo work by the artists on stage for this tour. On sale were Reflections (Graham Nash boxed set), Voyage (David Crosby boxed set), and a new CD and book by drummer Joe Vitale.
Speaking of the backing musicians, in addition to Vitale were keyboardist Todd Caldwell, keyboardist James Raymond, and veteran bassist Bob Glaub, introduced at every show, in gag fashion, as "born and raised right here!"
CSN technically covered six songs made famous by other artists, including the Rolling Stones, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Gregg Allman, and Joe Walsh. Okay, now, please, record an album of such!
Vocally, Crosby was spot-on, and Nash was slightly better-than-average. Stills, walking around with almost a Fred Sanford personal, sang as he typically has in recent years: not always staying in front of the microphone, thus posing a challenge to the mixing board. That said, Stephen seemed able to keep pitch better than some other shows in recent years.
The soundboard held the mix down to an exceptionally low level, prompting one fan, midway back, to yell out "We can't hear you!!!", and in turn prompting Crosby to yell, "You can't hear me?"
The 2009 CSN version of "Midnight Rider" differs from the Stills versions (1978-present), by tuning in the key of A vice D, and thus lessening some strain on Stills' voice.
"Critical Mass / Wind On The Water" sounded reduced in pitch by a semitone, perhaps also for ease of vocals.
During the second set, Crosby yelled out, "Did I just hear you yell 'Our House'?" to a fan apparently forgetting that the first set had featured said tune.
Aside from the cover songs, the most pleasant surprises were the inclusions of my two favorite Buffalo Springfield tracks, "Rock & Roll Woman" and "Bluebird", though I will honestly state that I prefer the outstandingly-crafted studio versions to these live versions.
The only "new" tune was Nash's political "In Your Name".
An amazing history for a 40-year-old band, only surpassed in longevity by the Rolling Stones, the Who, and a mere handful of others.
[****] - Steven T.
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