Crosby Stills & Nash, Royal Albert Hall
Indestructible campaigners can still show the young 'uns a few tricks
by Adam Sweeting Saturday, 12 October 2013
There was much to be said for attending the third and final show of Crosby Stills & Nash's Albert Hall stint, because this was the night when they played their debut album in its entirety. Clearly much - almost everything, in fact - has changed since 1969, but though the musicians are four decades older, their original collective spirit survives remarkably intact.
The addition of Neil Young turned CSN into a supergroup, but the original trio had a natural cohesiveness the four-piece version could never replicate, despite the fact that they were completely dissimilar characters with very different voices. Put those voices together though, and something miraculous happened, as it still did here when they sang "Helplessly Hoping" (adorned with some neat string-bending country licks from Stills), "You Don't Have To Cry" and "Southern Cross" (a comparative newcomer at only 31 years old).
Even within the trio, there's a clear divide between Stills and the Crosby-Nash axis (Crosby and Stills share a joke, pictured right). The C & N show-within-a-show still has the capacity to brew up a little special magic of its own, as they demonstrated on a staggering version of Crosby's "Guinnevere", their two voices weaving mystically over Crosby's eerie, spidery guitar pattern. They did it again on Nash's "Cathedral" - after an introduction on the massive Albert Hall organ by their keyboardist James Raymond - bringing a force and stature to the piece which was enough to get you scurrying back to Spotify to see if the original recording sounded that good. Raymond was also the writer of a new song, "Lay Me Down", scheduled for Crosby's next solo album, and with Nash lending support it made a comfortable fit with the back catalogue.
Meanwhile Stills prowled stage right, keeping up a bantering, chuntering commentary across the stage with his compadres. Stills, the musical mastermind of the original CSN, likes to remind y'all of his considerable musical endowments, whether that's whipping out torrid electric solos in "Bluebird", a song from his '60s days in the Buffalo Springfield ("this is a song from my childhood," he deadpanned), or driving the combo through an irresistibly chunky, funked-up "Love The One You're With"