Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Crosby, Stills & Nash Wow the Crowds at NYC's Beacon Theater, October 20, 2012

You'd expect the three musketeers to be retired in San Diego. Contrarily, Crosby, Stills & Nash are as active as they were back in their 1969 Woodstock days. On Saturday, October 20, I was one of hundreds of fans seeing them at the fourth of their five 2012 shows at New York City's Beacon Theater. It was near the end of their touring season however, as they have been roaming around all year. On July 17, they released their first live album in 20 years, CSN 2012.

CSN doesn't sound exactly as they did 40 years ago, but at least you get to see them all. While it would have been nice to hear “Y” Neil Young, you did get to hear the three founding members David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. Each time I saw CSN Live (the other time was in 2009 at Jones Beach), I saw the stage order from left to right as Crosby-Nash- Stills. I wonder why? Maybe the band name “Crosby Nash and Stills” just wouldn't have the same rhythm.

The stars weren't with out some new talent however. The most noted newbie was James Raymond, the keyboardist. Graham claims otherwise but I don't think he would have gotten his stardom without being Crosby's son. Despite such natural succession, his contribution of solos and the song he penned, “Lay Me Down” was appreciated!

The old fogie who made the biggest impression, was Stills, who remains one of the most underrated guitar players. His Claptonesque ability to play fast, upbeat or slow solos was supported by his whammy bar in his solo in Crosby's “Deja Vu.” “My job is to write the weird shit”, Crosby joked as he introduced the song.

CSN is also famous for pulling out some out-of-the-blue covers. In 2009, they played the Grateful Dead's “Uncle Johns Band.”. “We don't have any business playing this next one, but why the hell not, “ Crosby said before they played it. This time around, they chose Bob Dylan's love ballad, “Girl From North Country.”

Of course you can't blame the band for trying to produce new material, but to brutally honest, CSN should stick to its original Rock-and-Roll-Hall-of-Fame-level material. The second set, which included “Deja Vu”, “Wooden Ships,” “49 Bye-Byes,” “Our House,” and other major hits, was absolutely phenomenal. However, I didn't appreciate some of the newer songs in the first set, such as “Almost Gone”, a political piece Graham wrote about Bradley Manning, an ex US soldier, who is now in solitary confinement for releasing military secrets to WikiLeaks. This song was appropriate for Crosby and Nash's ad-hoc show at Occupy Wall Street but not a concert.

If CSN sticks to its original roots, the band has a good shot to remain a successful band, well into its members' 70s. Maybe one of these days, we will even see C, S and N tour with their friend Y!

*I posted videos for the songs I referenced in the review. For a few of the songs, I could not find a video for the October 20 show, so I posted one for a different 2012 date.

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