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John Kato Kitamura's Review
(more reviews coming)
The show details.
A Toronto Sun review of the show.
A Music Insight review of the show.
A Toronto Sunreview of the AUDIENCE.
Last night was the first Toronto show. No surprises in terms of songs (as expected). I had been to the tour opener in Detroit, this was my second show. In comparison to Detroit, last night the band was a lot tighter and slicker. In Detroit there were a lot of sloppy moments and the rhythm section looked stiff (and maybe reading off of charts). But here in Toronto, Duck Dunn was bopping around, and all the changes by the rhythm section were perfect. Especially noticeable in terms of lightning fast changes were 49 Bye Byes and Down By The River. (More on DBTR, later.)
Neil's voice was breaking a little on Southern Man. It sounded either like he was getting a cold, or hadn't warmed up. It improved later in the concert, but sounded very tired by the end.
In contrast, Crosby's voice was excellent through the whole show. My estimation of him increases everytime I hear him sing. His Stand and Be Counted was the first of several Crosby showcases, and he sounded strong and confident. Much more so than in Detroit.
As I mentioned above, 49 Bye Byes was a very tight through the time signature changes compared to Detroit, which had been a train wreck in the rhythm section. Speaking of trains, Stephen made a vocal jab at Neil's obsession with trains before Marrakesh Express. I forget the exact comment, but it was something about Neil "living in the prairies, and the only thing around for miles that can take you anywhere is the railroad, so you can get obsessed with trains."
Then Neil continued "As I was saying, you have a nice train yard here". (Note that the Air Canada Centre is built right beside the old train yard...)
Almost Cut My Hair was again a great Crosby performance, as it appears to have been all throughout this tour.
In the acoustic set, Helpless was a treat. Neil introduced it by saying it was (my paraphrase) "written around a line that was inscribed on a photograph, from Tim Hardin. I forget what was inscribed." At the end of the song, Neil played a wrong chord (hey Neil, there are only three chords in the song!) and the song ended kind of abruptly after that. Crosby laughed and pointed at Neil...
But he shouldn't have laughed, because on Dream for Him he appeared to have forgotten how the second verse started, so he let Neil solo around until he remembered the lines. After the song, Crosby said something like "I've forgotten the words to four songs now. This only happens when we come to Canada. Blame Canada!"
Crosby had to restart Guinnevere due to a faulty guitar jack. But he again did a stellar performance. His playing and singing (with Nash) were a joy to watch.
Suite: Judy Blue Eyes was also a pleasure to watch. High energy on that one, and a showcase for Stills, who despite the occasional flub, played excellently throughout the evening.
There was no Eight Miles High, so we got Long Time Gone instead. Crosby was a bit way from the mic on the first couple of lines, so they didn't come out -- but after that it was again a masterful performance.
Ohio followed. Neil seemed to forget to sing the 'Na na na' verse. How can you forget 'Na na na' Neil? So he sang the one verse three times, and the rest of the band followed along.
On Down by the River there was some great band dynamics and interaction. From watching the screens, you could see the hand gestures Neil used to 'direct' the band. For the first solo Neil hobbled over to Stills and they traded a few solos. A nod of Neil's head and a 'come on' gesture with his left hand and they both went into their harmony duet guitar parts. For the second verse, maybe Neil forgot the opening words, because he sang "Be on my side" a couple of times before starting the second verse.
The second solo of DBTR showed off how tight the band was. There was a slow buildup into a guitar frenzy. Stills, Crosby and Neil huddled around the drums (much like a Crazy Horse show!) and got more and more frantic. Duck Dunn is bopping along. Neil's hand comes up and points to the floor and BAM! The whole band mutes into a quiet riff. Great stuff!
Another great visual was captured on the screens during Rockin' In The Free World. Stills at the left smiling and playing the Flying V. Neil scowling on the right with whammy bar madness. And Crosby in the centre -- and he sticks out his tongue! Priceless!
Fantastic show - and exhausting. Can't wait for the second show, tonight!
(more reviews coming soon... --RE*AC*TOR)