Crosby, Stills, Nash & . . . roughly 10,000 people showed up at Merriweather Post Pavilion last night for what promised to be a '60s class reunion. And like most reunions, this one was long on sentiment and short on excitement.
The concert was divided into electric and acoustic sets, the former using a sextet of solid West Coast musicians, the latter focusing on CSN's archetypal voicings.
The audience was blissfully set adrift on a sea of harmonies, a vocal blend that soothed rock's ravaged ears while recalling '60s folk rock innocence and idealism at its height.
Graham Nash, who's become something of a crochety elder statesman in rock--urging the audience to go out and vote and patronizing them with such statements as "I'm glad to see some people still listen"--sang, happily, with greater conviction than usual. His voice, which can be almost as frothy as his lyrics, was especially forceful on "Chicago," while "Teach Your Children," a buoyant encore, was delivered with warm affection.
For his part, David Crosby waxed wistful most of the night, bringing some nice touches to the lovely "Guinnevere" and absolutely nothing to the ponderous "Delta." It was left to Stephen Stills to keep the band's rock credentials, such as they are, in passable shape. He did it with a stubbornly one-dimensional voice that somehow managed to be soulfully expressive at times, and a series of arcing guitar solos that mercifully disrupted the band's tedious dreamscapes.
In fact, Stills was solely responsible for the few sparks that flew during the evening, with his contributions to "For What It's Worth," "Wooden Ships" and "Carry On." Of course, you couldn't take in all the music, to say nothing of the memories, without recalling that CSN was once a quartet. Throughout the concert, Neil Young, his songs and his guitar were sorely missed.