Crosby, Stills and Nash - Park City, Kansas Concert Review

Crosby, Stills & Nash
Hartman Arena
Park City, Kansas
August 11, 2012
By Jeb Wright

Set 1:
Carry On/Questions | Chicago | Long Time Gone | Just a Song Before I Go | Southern Cross | Lay Me Down | Radio | Marrakesh Express | Almost Gone (The Ballad of Bradley Manning) | Bluebird | Déjà Vu | Love the One You’re With

Set 2:

Helplessly Hoping | In Your Name | Girl from the North Country | What Are Their Names | Guinevere | Daylight Again/Find the Cost of Freedom | Cathedral | Immigration Man | Our House | Almost Cut My Hair | Wooden Ships

Encore:

Teach Your Children | Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

Crosby, Stills & Nash are touring in support of their new DVD, 2012.  And rightly so, as the band are playing, and singing, stronger than they have in years.  In fact, David Crosby was fluent, sounded amazing and even provided comic relief when addressing the crowd.  Graham Nash remains impressive on all levels and Stephen Stills, a touch gruff on vocals, plays the living hell out of his guitar. 
Joining the band onstage are Todd Caldwell (organ), Shane Fontayne (guitar), Steve DiStanislao (drums), Kevin McCormick (bass), and James Raymond, Crosby’s son (keyboards).   With a little help from their friends, i.e. the band, every guitar nuance, cymbal crash, bass note and vocal harmony comes off as strong and fresh as on the good old vinyl versions from yesteryear.

The main three men appeared to be enjoying themselves the entire evening.  Nash replied to a member of the audience who kept shouting for Buffalo Springfield, “We will get to the Buffalo Springfield, now just enjoy this for now.  Besides, the Hollies were a better band.”  This quip left Crosby to reply, “Neither band was as good as The Byrds” which brought a huge roar of laughter from the crowd.  Later in the evening, when Crosby played the opening notes to “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Nash said, “Oh David, one day you will get to play ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ – maybe even tonight in Wichita!”  To which Crosby replied, “But that is the only part I know!”

The crowd, a mix of original hippies, younger people wishing they could have been original hippies, and middle aged music fans, were openly impressed by the harmonic skill being displayed before them.  “Carry On” proved to be the perfect song to open the show, as the vocal skills were executed well and Stills guitar solo gave the crowd a hint of what was to come throughout the evening.

The best tunes from the first set were “Carry On/Questions,” “Southern Cross,” “Marrakesh Express,” Buffalo Springfield’s “Bluebird,” “Long Time Gone,” “Déjà Vu” and the Stills solo classic “Love the One You’re With.”  Before “Déjà Vu,” Crosby told the crowd, “We have three different jobs in this band.  Stephens’ job is to write great rock and roll.  Stephen can really write great rock and roll, just like that song we just played, ‘Bluebird.’”  He can write anything but he’s really great at writing rock and roll.  Graham is great at writing anthems that speak to entire generations like ‘Teach Your Children.’  He can write anything too but he’s great at writing anthems.  Me?  My job is to write the weird shit.”

After a short break, the band returned for the second set of the night, opening with the classic ballad “Helplessly Hoping.”  The mood turned mellow for the much of set two as CSN performed “In Your Name,” a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country,” “What Are Their Names,” “Guinevere” and “Daylight Again” all in a row.  Next up, however, was Graham Nash’s classic LSD inspired tune “Cathedral,” which allowed the entire band to stretch their wings and show off a bit.  After the lackluster, but timely, “Immigration Man” the band had a sing-along with “Our House” leaving the nostalgic crowd much younger than when they walked in the door.

The best part of the concert was yet to come, however.  CSN were on fire and ready to play some of the best psychedelic music they ever wrote.  David Crosby brought the house down with his vocals on “Almost Cut My Hair” while Stills pushed the tune home with an improvised guitar solo.  Next up was “Wooden Ships” again featuring amazing vocals and music.  At the end of these two tunes, which must have encompassed nearly fifteen minutes, the band took a bow and left the stage. The evening was not yet over.

The encore began with the second sing-along of the evening in “Teach Your Children.” As fun as that was, what followed was an amazing version of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.”  Most of the song was preformed with just the three men and an acoustic guitar, but for the last section of the song the band snuck back on stage and kicked it into high gear as the “do dodo do do’s” were sang by the crowd at the top of their lungs.

When the music was over there were many smiles. Some of the crowd were able to go back in time and relive their youth, while others were able to experience the magic of music that was created before they were born.  At the end of the day, CSN are performing well and seeing them in concert, while they are at this peak, comes highly recommended.  The only negatives of the evening were that “Wasted on the Way” and “Woodstock” were not performed, probably so the band could fit in some of their newer tunes.  CSN have earned the right to play whatever they want, so the omissions are easily forgiven.  Besides, on this night CSN not only played most of their classic songs, they played their hearts out.  

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