Crosby, Stills & Nash
21 August 2012
Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO
As David, Stephen, and Graham walked out on stage to a standing ovation, Graham grabbed his guitar and announced to the audience, "Our favorite place to play."
CSN is promoting a new DVD/Blu-Ray/CD collection called CSN 2012, which includes a full concert as well as interviews with the band members. During Graham's interview, he remarked that Stephen was stronger on this tour, perhaps as a result of getting fit and some voice coaching--and, Stills voice held up to Graham's promises for most of the show. This, combined with what seemed to be better sound engineering/mixing, produced effective harmonization that we hadn't heard in years.
Almost like clockwork, Stephen Stills provided his dose of drama during the opening number, by yanking off his ear piece, and glaring sternly over to the sound man stage right. In any case, the vocal blend on "Carry On" sounded about as good as the strong mix during the 2000 CSNY tour. The band's choice to perform "Just A Song Before I Go" as well as "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" showed their confidence in their harmonies.
Stills' voice, though, did sound aged, David's voice sounded a little tired, and while Graham's vocal range isn't as high as before, Graham kept pitch perfectly on all songs for which he handled lead vocals. Southern Cross sounded slightly better than a few years ago.
David once again introduced keyboardist James Raymond as his son during the band's performance of a new song "Radio", in which James had a hand in composing.
Along with Raymond were drummer Steve DiStanislau (who, like Raymond, performs in Crosby's band CPR), Hammond B-3 player Todd Caldwell, bassist Kevin McCormick (from Jackson Browne's band), and a surprise for this tour, guitarist Shayne Fontayne (from Marc Cohn's band), introduced as "born and raised right here!" (not really).
Fontayne's guitar work proved essential to re-creating some of the original studio sounds of "Marrakesh Express", "Teach Your Children", and "Lay Me Down".
Graham introduced "Almost Gone" as dedicated to all the "whistle-blowers". The song is about Army Private Bradley Manning. The song does not really tackle the issue of illegally disclosing classified information, but rather considers Private Manning's treatment during imprisonment while awaiting military court hearings. Apparently, Manning's lawyer said that he didn't know if there would be any of Bradley left because his mind is "Almost Gone".
Crosby introduced "Bluebird" by simply saying, "Buffalo Springfield".
Six members of the extended band each played solos during "Deja Vu".
After a 25-minute break, silhouettes of the band members walked on stage to a quieter beginning of the second set.
During "In Your Name", Nash's line, ".....Can you stop all this killing in your name?....." again received a round of applause.
Prior to singing "Girl From The North Country", Stills described how the band plays mostly their own songs, but makes exceptions for great songwriters like "Mr. Dylan", and went on to mention how he learned the song in 1965 because it affected his heart--he went on to say how he likes to play the song whenever other events similarly affect his heart such as when "Somebody comes up to you in the airport and says, 'Hey you look just like David Crosby'!". After a roar of laughter from the audience, the camera panned to Crosby who mocked a sad frown, thus inducing a roar of "Aw!"s from the same crowd.
Stills' siren notes highlighted his guitar work during Crosby's ".....like looking in my mirror and seeing a lit up police car....." in "Almost Cut My Hair".
Probably the best CSN Red Rocks show I've seen in about 17 years.
[****] - Steven T.
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