NEW YORK, NY—CSN rocked out at the Beacon Theatre adding some blustery fire to their golden harmonies as they channeled the energies of the Occupy Wall Street movement into their set. Originally scheduled for August but cancelled due to Hurricane Irene, the trio returned to the Upper West Side refreshed, and plowed their way through a set of hits going back to the ‘60s.
Stephen Stills added his raw and edgy sounds to the band’s gorgeous vocals, straddling a fine line between studio polish and rough-edged blues. His fuzzy distortion was in sharp contrast to session maestro Dean Parks’ guitar playing on the recent Crosby/Nash tour that was a tightly manicured weave of spicy notes and neat playing. Stills’ was a ballsey, triumphant bang-up as he punched through Crosby and Nash’s divine sounds with the force of a jackhammer.
Sandblasting notes out of his Fender Strat and tweaking through the sonic divide, Stills turned Crosby and Nash’s ear candy into raucous rock and roll anthems. Crosby countered with an impassioned delivery, adding a snarky tone through the band’s politically charged material like “Almost Cut My Hair” and “Long Time Gone” that were delivered as freshly baked goods to a bygone era.
Nash played ringleader to Stills and Crosby’s badassness at stage center, dressed in a flannel shirt and barefooted. His serene backup vocals countered the bluesy wails of Stills and fused into Crosby’s. Instrumentally the trio’s guitars rang beautifully. Going from two guitars to three to one and back they kept things busy and to the point. A four-piece backup band including Crosby’s son Raymond and drummer Joe Vitale, known for his work with Joe Walsh’s Barnstorm, added a dense bottom end to the trio’s vocals and loud guitars.
Opening with the curdling riffage of “Woodstock,” from Déjà Vu, they started out at the gate ripping through the hippie anthem “We Are Stardust, We Are Golden” that sent everyone back to Yasgur’s farm. Stills pulled off “Bluebird” deftly but what was really missing in the mix was Springfield band mate Neil Young who countered Stills’ riffs on the number at this year’s Buffalo Springfield reunion show at Bonnaroo, one of the highlights of the fest.
They paid homage to the Occupy Wall Street people with an a capella “What Are Their Names” and “They Want It All.” On “Wooden Ships” CSN started off slowly then dynamically shifted sails in a rousing bid to the apocalyptical ending that crackled and rang to the rafters then ended with a whisper.
Crosby then added from the stage that Stills is known for his rockers, Nash for his anthems and he’s known for the weird shit. “Déjà Vue” followed with its jazzy chordings and time signature changes proving once and for all that Crosby just might be right. A gorgeous cover of the Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” had the crowd singing along on the choruses. “Love The One You’re With” ended the regular set. Things got funky as Stills beamed and ripped a howling lead through the ending.
Two days later Crosby and Nash took their messages to the people at Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park performing unplugged and micless for a brief set. Playing on top of a tiny patch of mother earth they took on military madness, corporate greed and ended with “Teach Your Children,” then led the crowd through a series of chants of “KEEP GOING! KEEP GOING! and “STAY HERE! STAY HERE!”