Crosby, Stills & Nash - Hard Rock Live, Hollywood - May 10
If you want to feel young, go to a Crosby, Stills & Nash concert where the generation that coined "never trust anyone over thirty" are all now in their sixties. The two women in the seats in front of me discussed the travails of hot flashes as they waited for the veteran supergroup to take the stage.
At eight o'clock, the background music grew louder. It was an instrumental version of the Beatles' "A Day In The Life." The volume slowly increased so the women had to shout to be heard. "I was in Washington, D.C., in the winter, where it was below freezing, and I still felt hot!"
That crazy psychedelic bridge reached its crescendo and the crowd stood at ovation as left to right Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and David Crosby came on stage.
For a moment, I feared the Woodstock veterans' style would mirror that of the women in front of me. But from the first song, "Carry On," Crosby, Stills & Nash performed with a vibrant soulfulness that surpassed the forty year old original recorded versions.
While much of their recorded work can have a softness that marks it as a relic from the hippy-dippy era, in 2013, the trio gave everything a heavier, bluesy edge that kept heads shaking and toes tapping for the entirety of their two hour set.
They were backed by a five piece band. During the song "Déjà Vu," each member of the band from the electric organ to the drums, bass, guitar, and keyboard were given a solo to show their chops. Graham Nash told stories about how each member was worthy to be on stage with this royal rock 'n' roll trio. During that time, he wasn't afraid to name check Dave Gilmour and Jackson Browne. But when you're as connected as this trio and when your occasional fourth member is Neil Young, I guess you can safely humbly brag about all the cool people you know. You could play two degrees of classic rock separation with these guys. Stills was a member of Buffalo Springfield, Nash was of the Hollies, and Crosby of the Byrds, so when Nash took to the keys, and said, "I wrote this song for Joni," he didn't need to add that her last name was Mitchell, nor did he need to ask the audience to sing along. Not when our house is a very, very, very fine house with two cats in the yard.
If you were one of those people that needed to find something to complain about you could point out that Stills' voice was a little ragged when it was his turn to sing the lead vocals, but those angelic harmonies when the three voices came together could even bring that cranky critic's eyes to tears. Crosby had the passion of an old blues singer, and he and Nash could still hit the high notes. As the set neared the end they said, "Good night, Hollywood."
A couple moments passed. The crowd cheered and clapped for an encore, but everyone knew they weren't going anywhere. Not only had the house lights not been turned back on, but they hadn't played Suite Judy Blue Eyes. This charade didn't go on for very long. The band hadn't even walked completely off stage before they returned under the spotlight to remind us that it's getting to the point. And we got that happy ending. Not only did Stephen Stills wield a virtuoso guitar solo, but his 1969 voice came back to tell everyone, "It's my heart that's a suffering."
That's the power of music. A good song can transport us to a time before we suffered hot flashes. Back when everything was easy cause of you.