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Jerry The Jerkster Conner's Review
(more reviews coming)
The show details.
A Sacramento Bee review.
How was the Sacramento show? In a word: excellent.
With the opening riffs of Carry On, the band began bouncing all over the stage. Within seconds, it was clear that this was to be no ordinary show. Carry On rocked from beginning to end, and there were wide smiles of bemused satisfaction on the faces of the fortunate audience members. On the scorecards, tally one point for the first Steven Stills moment because it's long after the concert, and I can still hear the vocal loud and clear.
Neil went next, electrifying the audience with a killer version of Southern Man. The CSN harmonies added to it, but there was a vocal thing that he did at the end -- a final "Southern Maaaan" that I'm not likely to forget in this lifetime. You can hear it towards the end of of the Southern Man on the VH1 webcast.
Then it was Croz's turn to burn. Stand and Be Counted was deep and heavy. Deep because of the lyrics and heavy because of the twin axes wielded by Steven and Neil. Thus ended the opening triple blast. By that point, I was so excited that I had to take a restroom break.
I reentered the arena to the tune of Pre-Road Downs. It was okay, as was the Heartland that followed. Steven jump-started the show, though, when he led the band through a wonderfully sung and played 49 Bye-Byes. I've got this on my scorecard as Steven moment Number Two. Neil's Slowpoke was next, followed by two more relatively mellow songs.
Those who were lulled into getting mellow, however, were quickly jerked right straight out of their seats by an Almost Cut My Hair that almost made my hair grow back out again. Yes, we were an older, paunchier, more receding audience than usually seen at Arco Arena. But mellowness was reserved for another time. This song was a scorcher, an out-and-out rocker that can't be described--only experienced. I've heard about Crosby and read about Crosby, and none of what I've heard or read captures the man as musician. Go see him for yourself.
A concert peak was reached with the Hair song. When they finally stopped playing the damn thing, I was actually worried about their health. I would have had them take their break then and there. I don't know how they managed to sustain the energy through a very decent Cinnamon Girl, but they did, and I'm glad we all finally took a break after that.
There were a lot of satisfied people in the smoking section outside, and the rain-cleansed air was good. I would describe most of the people there as shocked. We were all sort of stunned. We knew we were going to a CSNY concert, yes, but we did not know that we were going to a CSNY ROCK concert with a capital R-O-C-K.
The second set was the acoustic set, and overall I guess it was pretty mellow, although there were a couple of times when Neil started to cut loose. My favorites from this set include a magnificent Old Man, which was totally unexpected. CSN really added a lot to this one, which really fit in because of the o-l-d word.
Now, I'm the guy who purposely did not buy or listen to Looking Forward. But I did see Neil's solo show at Memorial Auditorium last year, so I knew some of the songs slightly. I'm not sure if it's Dream for Him or Out of Control, but there was a song where Neil was sitting on a barstool (guitarist's chair?) playing Old Black, his electric standby. Everybody else had acoustic guitars or empty hands. I may be confused about the name of the song, but it was definitely great.
Actually, there was nothing to complain about during the entire second set. The songs were good, and the mood was good. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to sit there and enjoy it. My significant other, she's not much of a music fan, but I think the next time we're on a road trip, and I pop my Live CSNY2000 tape in the cassette player, it's going to be kind of special because of what we shared.
I came out of my mellow trance when Steven had his third moment. Seen Enough was, I guess I can say, fun. I mean, it was funny, and it was fun. Maybe I enjoyed it so much because the band seemed to enjoy playing it so much. The song had a serious message, but with crack-up lyrics about silicon(e) diodes and websites, it made me laugh my ass off at the same time that it made me think about the darker side of technology and the so-called Internet revolution.
Perhaps Teach Your Children should have come before Seen Enough. It was okay, but the audience was already firmly back in rock mode. The 7th inning stretch felt great, and then we began the final run. Woodstock was okay, but Long Time Gone was massively good. Mark it down as Crosby moment Number Two. Somehow, he operates as some kind of quiet ringleader of musical madness. I watched him do it on Almost Cut My Hair, and then he did it again on Long Time Gone.
Then, with the Croz still in control, they did a ripping Ohio. Maybe it's my politics, but that old song still applies. Which is kind of strange because the next song, For What It's Worth, didn't work at all for me. It could just be me, or it could have been the song, but it was the one song for which I preferred the album version. I memorized that song long ago. I hard-coded it into my brain. The folk-rock guitar sound in that song is the song, but for this show, they changed it a lot. I'm in favor of changing old songs, but I couldn't make myself like it.
All the rest of the songs were good: Down by the River, Love the One You're With, and Rockin' in the Free World, but by this point, I may have had enough. That is, I was so rocked by the end of Long Time Gone that there was no need for me to hear any more. I was like the person at the all-you-can-eat buffet eating a delicious dessert, but not really enjoying it because of being too full.
The final tunes were good, but my mind started wandering. I sat there watching those four (six) guys, fifty-plus-year-old survivors, doing what they do so enthusiastically and so well. Somehow, it made me start thinking about other Neil and CSN moments in times gone by: Down by the River in the rain at the Indiana State Fair with the International Harvesters, a ferocious Rockin' in the Free World on Saturday Night Live that I saw in some eatery one night I don't know where, Star of Bethlehem in a dream while living in a faraway place, and Long May You Run and Southern Cross at Golden Gate Park on the same day I got to see Jefferson Airplane do Turn My Life Down.
How was the Sacramento show? In another two words: life affirming. Carry On and Long May You Run, indeed.
(more reviews coming soon... --RE*AC*TOR)