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There are doubtless some who shelled out for tickets to Saturday night’s Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young show at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center in order to indulge in a mellow evening of acoustic nostalgia buoyed by the harmonies the foursome patented circa ’70.
But those who came expecting a wistful walk down memory lane must have found the first half of the three-hour concert a jarring experience. For these 60-something singer-songwriters were determined to indulge the rockier side of their personas with a high-voltage show clearly fueled by the ebullient energy of Neil Young, and Stephen Stills’ desire to sip from Young’s fountain of youth and trade explosive guitar solos with him.
Not to say that the 11,000 or so in attendance didn’t get to hear some of the group’s sweeter, folk-flavored fare: The evening’s second set opened with a melancholy hootenanny feel on ‘Helplessly Hoping,’ ‘Our House,’ ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ and the hypnotic harmonies of David Crosby and Graham Nash on ‘Guinnevere.’
But the quartet also seemed determined to prove that they aren’t fossils of a bygone era. Despite their more electrified inclinations during the concert’s first 90 minutes, it was the spirit of protest the folkies brought to the decade they met – Woodstock was one of their first gigs – that informed the songs chosen. Be it the post-apocalyptic explosion of 1969’s ‘Wooden Ships’ or one of the recent antiwar songs penned by Young, it was a set designed to invoke eerie parallels between then and now, concluding with ‘D j Vu’ and the refrain of ‘We have all been here before.’
However, it was a trio of songs from Young’s new ‘Living With War’ album that may have been the highlight of the concert. ‘Restless Consumer’ found Young applying his high tenor voice to a set of condemnations akin in fury to Crosby’s incredulous cries near the end of ‘Ohio.’ Similarly passionate were ‘Shock and Awe’ and the album’s title track.
But the Vietnam/Iraq comparisons grew more pronounced over the evening, as did the similar disdain the group has held for the commanders-in-chief in each era, culminating in Young’s recent ‘Let’s Impeach the President’ being followed by vivid slices of their time like ‘For What It’s Worth,’ ‘Chicago’ and ‘Ohio.’
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Tour Dates
1, 2 – New York, NY – Beacon Theatre
3 – Bushkill, PA – Mt. Laurel Center
5, 6 – Atlantic City, NJ – Borgata Hotel/Casino
8 – Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun Casino
10 – Verona, NY – Turning Stone Casino
11 – Reading, PA – Sovereign Center
13 – Vienna, VA – Wolf Trap Filene Center
14 – Solomons, MD – Calvert Marine Museum
16 – Salem, VA – Salem Civic Center
18 – Hilton Head Island, SC – Sea Pines Resort
19 – North Charleston, SC – Coliseum
Ron Hubbard/Mpls. – St. Paul Pioneer Press
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