With the venue filling fast and the excited chatter, for me the question was yes, we were going to hear favourites from the back catalogue over the two sets but would this be a trip down memory lane, an ode to nostalgia or a gig that excites a real show that entertains.
The stage was set, the house lights dimmed and the opening chords of Carry Out got the show on the road, and the evening progressed with a mix from their collective works from group albums, solo albums and duet albums all dipped into with the support of a superb five-piece backing band, creativity was on fire tonight. The harmonies were pure, full of tonal shape and textures that flowed across the auditorium and the guitar from Stephen Stills was as good as ever. We heard Marrakesh Express, Southern Cross and Wooden Ships in the mix of a set list that toured their collective talents. The mix of styles and musical approaches were ever present; Graham Nash with his skills lightening the tone combined with Dave Crosby’s skills in manipulating modal tunings on his guitar mixing in jazz and folk melodic ranges and on top of this the dynamic and scintillating guitar solos and the riff of Rock n Roll provided by Stephen Stills.
In between music that floated, curled and built and expanded our collective memories, we had willing audience participation, added to the CSN harmonies were the collective Welsh voices on Our House and a bass solo that mesmerised courtesy of Kevin McCormick – what a rendition of Deja Vue. Stephen Stills, with a quip “It is better that I cover his rather than Bob Dylan covering one of mine…” bringing laughter from the audience as he mimicked Bob’s voice on a short intro of one his own songs then a gorgeous rendition of Bob Dylan’s Girl From The North suited the tone of his vocals. The surprise of the evening was the stamina and power of Dave Crosby, this is ironic considering the punishing lifestyle he adopted in times gone pass, his voice was on wonderful form. The highlights for me were Dave Crosby’s Guinevere which gave me goosebumps of emotional delight, and the new tracks had a freshness as epitomised by Stephen Stills Virtual World and his solution to people being more interested in their phones than the conversation – dunk them in a glass of Guinness the ‘sacrificial pint’ and Myself full of heart-rending subtleties. Fans of Crosby Stills and Nash were re-united with the music tonight and the encore just had to be Teach Your Children. What an evening, yes we are all older and the harmonies sometimes were at times strained and had to be worked harder to achieve but the music told a story we all wanted to hear and share.
In answer to the question before the show started Crosby Stills & Nash can still deliver every song whether old or new, had a freshness of delivery, and this was entertainment that left you on a high there was a wall of smiles and purrs of delight from the Cardiff audience tonight.