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  • by Tom Eastman

Crosby, Stills & Nash Deliver

An estimated 11,000-plus people attended Sunday's concert by Crosby, Stills & Nash, creating a monumental traffic jam that gave everyone a case of pre-road downs. While some were left helplessly hoping and others were wasted on the way, in the end, everyone carried on and made it to the stadium for the start of the sold-out show.

They were treated to a lively, two-hour performance by the celebrated trio and their back-up band. David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash appeared to enjoy themselves as much as the capacity crowd, putting their all into the show while playing two spirited sets that included almost all of their hits and two encores.

Produced by Gemini Concerts of Cranston, Rhode Island, the CSN show got under way under overcast skies Sunday pretty much on schedule. Sunday's show opened at 3:55 p.m. when an announcer took to the state to welcome the crowd to the stadium, saying, "All future concerts here are predicated on how well everyone behaves today. So enjoy yourself, and we'll be back with Crosby, Stills and Nash."

Arriving by bus from a show held in Spencer, Massachusetts, the night before, Crosby, Stills & Nash opened their performance at 4:20 after Crosby gave a big, "Hello!" to the crowd. Accompanied by a four-piece band that included bass, drums, percussion, and organ, the group kicked off their first set with Stills' 1971 his, "Love the One You're With."

"If you're down and confused..." Stills sang, and the crowd sang along with him, knowing every line of the hit from his first solo album. Dressed in a flat green army shirt and wearing glasses, Stills -- who still looks like Boston Bruins' former goalie and current coach Gerry Cheevers -- strutted to the edge of the stage, letting loose with some lead guitar riffs while Crosby and Nash backed him on acoustic and electric rhythm guitars. By far the most animated of the three, Stills, 39, did a classic guitar leap to end the song, as the crowd assembled on the floor of the stadium roared its approval.

The hits continued from there, as Nash -- by far the most politically outspoken member of the group and one of the leaders of the M.U.S.E. (Musicians United For Safe Energy) organization -- sat down at the piano to pound out their protest song about the 1968 Democratic presidential convention, "Chicago."

Looking fit and youthful and dressed in a black CSN tour T-shirt and pleated gray sports slacks, Nash, 43, received a thunderous ovation when he sang the chorus to the song. "We can change the world..." and then gave the spotlight back to Stills for the next number, "Turn Your Back On Love" from their 1982 album, Daylight Again.

By that time, the capacity crowd was theirs, as the band sounded tight with their trademark vocal harmonies and played just what the crowd wanted to hear. The band that received a Grammy award as the Best New Artists of 1969, made their second live appearance at the Woodstock Festival in August 1969, and who had made almost as much news for the numerous breakups from 1970 through 1982, appeared to be totally at ease as they talked with the crowd, with Nash serving as master of ceremonies.

Their sets contained something for everyone. Crosby, 43, doing his usual Buddha in a trance imitation for the first few songs, performed his acoustical ballad, "All Along the Lee Shore," next, while Nash implored the cros to vote with his song, "'84," noting, "This song is for anyone over 18 to use the power to vote. Don't forget -- register." Backed by a disco beat that sounded like the 1984 Rockwell hit, "Somebody Watching Me," the song was a reminder of when music was a political force in this country in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the group was at its zenith -- Nixon was in power and the country was at war in Vietnam.

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Featuring 15 songs in total, the first set rocked out with such songs as "Stranger," Stills' new single from his upcoming solo album Right By You; a new version of Still's Buffalo Springfield hit, "Bluebird," and Crosby's "Long Time Gone."

Showcasing their vocal harmonies were such songs as 1977's "Just A Song Before I Go," Crosby and Nash's "Wind On The Water," and their other hit from Daylight Again, Still's "Southern Cross." The set ended with Nash thanking the crowd, telling them the group would take a 15-minute break and return with an "acoustic set followed by some more rock and roll."

The second set featured 11 songs in addition to two encores, and opened with Stills' ballad, "You Don't Have To Cry" from their debut Crosby, Stills & Nash album. This, the first song the group ever sang together, featured them at their best -- Stills singing lead and getting more sounds out of his lone acoustic six string than many bands get out of two guitars; while Nash and Crosby filled in the background with their harmonies.

Following with one of their own favorites -- the Beatles' "Blackbird" -- the group moved on to "Wasted On The Way," and Crosby's piano piece, "Delta," before breaking into their 1969 hit, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes." Penned by Stills and written about Judy Collins, the song was highlighted by Stills' acoustic lead playing, and brought down the house when it reached its climactic chorus. When the "Doo do do do do..." part rolled around at the end the MCRC was transformed into one big choir.

"Cathedral," "Military Madness," "No More War," and Stills' "For What It's Worth" picked it up from there, with Stills inserting a Ghostbusterish "Who ya gonna call?" into the latter song's reference to "Paranoia strikes deep, into your life it's bound to creep..." Ending their regular set with Crosby's "Wooden Ships" from their 1970 Deja Vu album, the group returned for an encore of "Carry On" from the same album. Returning for a second encore, Crosby asked the crowd to sing along, which they did, joining in on Nash's "Teach Your Children." Standing together onstage arm in arm, the group took a bow, said goodnight, and at 6:35 departed.

With professional production and a well behaved crowd, the show was rated a success by promoter Frank Russo of Gemini Concerts.

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