CSN Carry On With a Vengeance
A rejuvenated Crosby, Stills & Nash triumph at Denver’s Red Rocks
By Mark Brown
Special to MSN Music
Yeah, right. That’s what any touring musician is supposed to say. Crosby, Stills & Nash are on the road every year or two. They’re doing many of the same songs they’ve done for decades. But you gotta sell tickets. You gotta pump it up.
But Nash wasn’t just toeing the party line. He admits some past tours didn’t live up to their potential. The new live DVD recently released by the band is excellent, but the surprise is that it wasn’t just one good night on the tour. At Red Rocks in Colorado on Aug. 21, CSN absolutely killed it. Every song. No lulls. No filler.
As a diehard Neil Young fan, it’s hard to say this, but this CSN concert was far better than any Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young show I’ve ever seen. CSN blew up the place, and a nearly sold-out crowd will likely crow about this night forever to their friends who unwisely decided not to go. Just when CSN finished a song and you thought to yourself – "It doesn’t get any better than this" – well, it did. It’s hard to believe that any band in 2012 would be putting on better shows than it did in 1969, but CSN did just that.
The rock songs rocked harder than ever. The quiet songs were more touching than ever. Overplayed FM radio songs that no one ever needs to hear again took on a new and different life. The harmonies (admittedly bolstered by their backing band) were simply flawless. The set list was perfect, drawing on old classics and including new, unreleased songs. Nash and David Crosby can impeccably hit every note (especially in a slightly slowed and extended "Guinnevere"). And Stephen Stills has apparently decided to re-establish his credentials as a certified guitar god. The thundering guitar solos he ripped out song after song were just exhilarating. After seeing some rote CSN shows in the past, this was sweet redemption.
A large part was the renewed camaraderie among the band members: – each poking fun at each other, yet each fondly letting the crowd know who wrote the song they’d just finished, giving credit where it was due. Onstage it was nothing but respect and smiles as they kept topping themselves song after song. One got the notion that sitting down in a room with the three of them today would be far different from the prickly encounter that would have been 10, 20 or 30 years ago.
So in the end, Nash wasn’t bragging – he was telling the truth. If you don’t see this tour, you’re going to miss the best of CSN. You really are.