CSNY blend old and new perfectly

Jul 18 2006

photo by: Barry Gutierrez

By Mark Brown
Rocky Mountain News
July 18, 2006

This, I guess, is what makes great art and great music: timelessness. Or maybe it's more of a comment on the foibles of humans and their history.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young played songs written three decades ago and songs written three months ago. At times you couldn't tell the difference.

The oldies resonated with the crowd in a whole new way. During Long Time Coming, David Crosby pointed at the crowd and shouted out the words: "Speak out against the madness / you've got to speak your mind / if you still dare."

And Neil Young's new songs from the highly political Living With War were just as pointed, hitting a particular nerve with the crowd in the chorus of The Restless Consumer with its repeated chant of "Don't need no more lies!"

Whatever the politics, the result was a tour far more energized than the nostalgic romps of the past two CSNY reunions. The band took the stage with purpose and excitement, much more engaged with each other as musicians than in the past. Credit it to Young's strong new songs and the mood of their fan base in general.

With a giant preamble printed on the floor of the stage, you had four men literally standing on the Constitution while standing up for it.

The new Young songs written about current events were obviously topical, including Living With War and Families. What was consistently amazing is how the older stuff fit perfectly - Young told the crowd "Muchas gracias" before the four lit into Graham Nash's Immigration Man.

Three songs into the set, Stephen Stills and Young set the tone for the night with a snarling guitar duel in Wooden Ships, a battle they'd revive many times.

Part of why it worked so well was Young's songs got the full CSN treatment, turning what was raw and angry on disc into passionate but polished rock.

Age takes its toll; the choruses on Long Time Coming and Carry On were delivered in lower keys from the original versions.

Gusty weather delayed the show slightly (and messed up the first night of a planned DVD shoot), making for a very late night. At press time the band was in its second set, delivering up CSNY and - solo classics - Helplessly Hoping, Our House, Only Love Can Break Your Heart - as a reward for the crowd's eager absorption of the newer stuff earlier.

CSNY is at Red Rocks again tonight in a sold-out show, but a few tickets remain for Thursday's finale.

By Mark Brown, Rocky Mountain News July 18, 2006