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Concert Reviews:
CSN brings harmony to DTE

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Monday, September 13, 2010

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- The magnitude of Crosby, Stills & Nash's legend was evident as the long-lived trio walked on stage Sunday night (Sept. 12) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

The trio was greeted by a standing ovation -- not the pro forma kind of reception most bands get but a genuinely warm and heartfelt welcome, as if the small but exuberant crowd was saying hello to some important people in its life. And that is indeed the case with CSN; both as a trio and with occasional partner Neil Young, they have a body of work that has marked time, made crucial statements and touched on lifestyle issues in a way that's unique to the singer-songwriter movement of the late 60s and early 70s. That the material and sentiments have endured and aged so well is a testament to their skillful straddling of the line between timeless and topical -- although in the case of anti-war songs such as Graham Nash's "Military Madness" and "In Your Name" and David Crosby's "What Are Their Names?" the continuing relevance was poignant.

That rare relationship between fans, band and material forgave any number of -- but not too many -- sins on Sunday night as CSN surveyed its career over the course of 24 songs and more than two and a half hours (with intermission). The trio and its four-man backing band, including Troy native Bob Glaub on bass and Crosby's biological son James Raymond on keyboards, started strong with powerful renditions of "Woodstock," "Military Madness" and "Long Time Gone," and it was quickly established that Stephen Stills, lacing fierce guitar solos through each, would be the evening's star.

And besides a set list full of favorites from CSN's individual and collective past -- though not the signature "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" -- the trio had a few surprises in a batch of classic rock cover tunes that they've been recording for a new album with producer Rick Rubin. "Songs we wish we had written," is how Crosby described them, and the DTE crowd was clearly delighted with CSN's renditions of the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood," the Allman Brothers Band's "Midnight Rider," the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday," the Who's "Behind Blue Eyes" and a particularly effective take on Bob Dylan's "Girl From the North Country."

But the quibble with any CSN show these days, and certainly on Sunday, is the group's harmonies, which was its calling card from the outset. Age and the wear and tear of the road have inextricably altered the trio's vocal blend, but while Sunday's show had its wobbly moments the good news was that for the most part CSN has made the necessary adjustments -- key, arrangement and even phrasing changes and the addition of three more voices from the band to strengthen the mix -- to not only deliver but also refresh staples such as "Deja Vu," "Wooden Ships," "Our House," the Stills Young Band's "Long May You Run" and Stills' "Love the One You're With."

And, of course, the audience could still sing along, right down to the closing "Teach Your Children." These old friends have clearly not worn out their welcome.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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