At first glance, one might have assumed it was a combination of nostalgia and a lack of Bruce Springsteen tickets that drew nearly 10,000 to Merriweather Post Pavilion to see Crosby, Stills and Nash last night.
True to form, it was memories in which the slightly timeworn and paunchy trio (only Graham Nash has managed to hold on to his slender rock 'n' roll physique of yesteryear) trafficked most heavily during their two-hour concert.
Repeatedly they rose to the expectations of the crowd (which included a healthy contingent of young and fresh faces who probably remembered little of the group's artistic heyday in the late 1960s and early 1970s). The evening's repertoire was at times spirited and powerful, and at other times ragged and needlessly overblown, vocal tours de force of their hits of yesteryear.
Before the night was over, they turned in reworkings of practically all the memorable hits from their three studio albums: "Crosby, Stills & Nash" (1969); "De'ja Vu" (with Neil Young, 1970); and "CSN" (1977); as well as their classic 1971 live LP, "Four Way Street" (also with Neil Young).
The most inspired moments occurred when Nash and Crosby spiraled off to do stunning high harmonies on songs like "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," and when Stills split off on his own for some very impressive solo outings.
Ultimately, it was Stills who was most impressive and who seemed to retain the restless energy that typified the group during the stormy years when it was in its prime. And it was he who most often supplied added excitement, whether by belting out inspired new compositions with his piercing white-soulful voice, or buttressing the oldies with biting and intricate lead guitar lines.
Despite the excess baggage of legend and carbohydrates that they now carry, CS&N seemed to have moved into musical middle age with something approaching awkward grace. I mean, let's face it: two double chins out of three ain't bad at all.