July 12, 2012 9:40:45 AM
Photos by Chris Jenkins
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"Thanks for coming out in the rain -- y'all are some brave sons of bitches," David Crosby on Wednesday said as Crosby, Stills and Nash launched into their opening number, "Carry On/Questions" before a half-filled Tuscaloosa Amphitheater.
In retrospect, maybe it was CSN that were actually the "brave sons of bitches" for just continuing to do what they do nightly and have been doing for more than 40 years -- bringing the rock music to the masses with quiet acoustic numbers, thunderous electric guitar-driven songs and sweet three-part harmonies.
But as the song ended, the old bitterness that develops after four decades together reared its head and set the tone for much of the night.
My photographer Chris Jenkins, who was shooting photos from the front of the stage sent me the following text message during the show: "After the first song, Graham Nash yelled and pointed his finger at Stephen Stills after the first song. He was super pissed about something. Then Stills said 'Don't do that on stage.' *awkward*"
And at points throughout the evening, it was indeed awkward.
But, it was also poignant and amazing.
I love Crosby, Stills and Nash and have been a fan for most of my life. I'm an even bigger Neil Young fan, but he chose not to do this tour, so this isn't about him. From the sing-along nursery rhyme quality of "Teach Your Children" to the 80s radio hits "Southern Cross"and "Wasted on The Way" from the "comeback" album "Daylight Again," I am a big fan of CSN.
I'm not going to fault anyone for getting older because that would be preposterous and the idea of cheating death and living as long as possible is the common goal of anyone over 30. I admire CSN for touring and making new music when they could have retired and cultivated other interests. With that said, the harmonies were not so sweet at times and no one seemed to be having much fun on the stage except Stephen Stills, who is still a beast on the guitar. Stills tried to connect with the audience through some ripping guitar solos.
Perhaps it was the rain or the subdued crowd or the clunky pacing of the show, but there was a major disconnect between Crosby, Stills and Nash and whereby it created a disconnect with the audience.
As a disciple of music, I live for the "Oh My God" moments and there were plenty of these throughout the night. I will remember them playing an almost perfect version of "Southern Cross" in the first set for the rest of my life. They also in the first set played Buffalo Springfield's "Bluebird."(Oh my God, they played "Bluebird!!")
The last three songs they played were some of my favorite live musical moments. Starting with an intense and brilliant rendition of "Almost Cut My Hair," followed by "Wooden Ships (Oh My God -- "Wooden Ships") to the encore of "Suite: Judy Blues Eyes," this was the stuff that nurtures and feeds my rock n roll soul. It's what inspires me and what I will use as a future reference point -- Man, remember when CSN played "Almost Cut My Hair" in Tuscaloosa?
There were also some stirring quieter moments including Stills' cover of Bob Dylan's "Girl From The North Country" and "Guinnevere." "Almost Gone" from the new album "CSN 2012" almost sounded more like CSN than some of the older numbers.
I can now cross one more name off my concert bucket list.(Donald Fagan, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs -- you're next on August 28.)
Crosby, Stills and Nash are old, cantankerous and bitter, and they are also still brilliant and beautiful in a heartbreaking way.
Viva La Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Tuscaloosa Set List Wednesday, July 3, 2012
Carry On / Questions
Long Time Gone
Just a Song Before I Go
Lay Me Down
Almost Gone (The Ballad of Bradley Manning)
Love the One You're With
In Your Name
Girl From the North Country
Almost Cut My Hair
Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
Jeff Clark is City Reporter for The Dispatch. An obsessed music fan, Clark once rode an elevator with Kenny Rogers, whom he said "smelled good." He also once hugged B.B. King and Willie Nelson, but not at the same time. His parents took him to see Waylon Jennings at the Hump in Starkville and his life was "forever changed." A few months later, his parents took him to see Willie Nelson at the same venue. His head almost exploded.
Jeff Clark is a fan of all things Waylon, Willie, Hank (Hank is Hank, he is not "Hank Sr."), new wave, boogie woogie, rockabilly and late sixties to mid-70s Rolling Stones. This is his music blog.