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Recapping Crosby, Stills & Nash at the Moody Theater

Crosby, Stills & Nash – or rather (l-r) – Stills, Nash & Crosby at the Moody Theater, 8.18.12
Crosby, Stills & Nash – or rather (l-r) – Stills, Nash & Crosby at the Moody Theater, 8.18.12 (by Gary Miller)

Ten years ago, April 10, 2002, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young filled the Frank Erwin Center and knocked it back down. ACL Live at the Moody Theater on Saturday night sold out with CSN alone, and what the show lacked in guiterrorism by Buffalo Springfield bandmates Stills & Young it bested its predecessor by compacting Woodstock into under 3,000 baby boomers.

And Stephen Stills still swung a mean axe beginning on steely opener “Carry On,” all three principles wielding six-strings as backed by dual keyboardists and bass/drums/guitar.

All but one of the backing band lunged out energetic harmonies to back the trio of frontman, and in this chorus, Crosby, Stills & Nash sounded eternal. Onstage, that first-listed musketeer appeared stuffed – victim of calcification – but when Crosby began “Long Time Gone” in a strong, clear boom, his voice matched his stature: undiminished.

Stills’ “Southern Cross” demonstrated wear and tear – the copper in his voice betraying rust – while his eyebrows appeared to have inched out of Middle Earth. Yet as goaded by his Stratocaster and belted with his partners, CSN burst with an energy one wouldn’t think possible in a band more than 40 years old. That's 340 in rock star years.

Nash’s delightful high range – recall him in the Hollies – held firm to his essential middle ground between Stills’ coarse power and Crosby’s yeoman tenor. His “Just a Song Before I Go” and “Marrakesh Express” hit the same sweet spot that Stills nailed on Buffalo Springfield’s raspy “Bluebird.” Nash’s banjo on “Déjà Vu” lacked similar firepower, but Stills sealed the 70-minute first set with “Love the One You're With” – lower, slower, but sound.

“Helplessly Hoping,” plus a craggy cover of Dylan’s “Girl From the North Country,” Nash’s ever poignant “Military Man,” “Cathedral,” and “Our House,” and finally Crosby’s searing “Almost Cut My Hair” with Stills’ singeing solo and standing overation afterward hit one after another until “Wooden Ships” ended the epic performance 60 minutes into the second set.

Encore “Teach Your Children” prepped Woodstock’s campfire choral, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” with just Crosby, Stills & Nash onstage accompanied by the middle-man’s acoustic guitar. All three men, 71, 67, and 70, respectively, seemed eager to finish with a flourish, but Crosby lingered when it completed.

Like the Moody throng, perhaps he wondered when he’d ever revisit such a preservation of revolutionary ideals set to electrifying folk rock.

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Crosby, Still & Nash, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield, the Hollies, Bob Dylan, Woodstock, Judy Collins

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