PUBLICATIONS > Articles > 1970s > Crosby, Stills and Nash – Madison Square Garden

Crosby, Stills and Nash – Madison Square Garden
New York City June 21st, 1977
Author: Michael Aron
Journal: Rolling Stone
Date: August 11 1977

 

LIKE LOVERS MEETING in a hotel room after years of separation, Crosby, Stills and Nash met their New York fans in Madison Square Garden for an evening that could have been joyous, or awkward and painful, or a masturbatory exercise in nostalgia.

One sensed that, because of the fragile egos involved and the ephemeral nature of past reunions, the crowd wanted desperately for this to be a magical night. With each song they held their breath, hoping that the group could still harmonize on key and hit the old familiar notes.

The fans’ anxieties seemed to crystallize during the first song of the second set, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” The harmonies sounded a bit sour. The pace was a bit sluggish. Were the boys really old and tired? Would Stills hit the high note?

“… Thrill me to the maaaar-rrrow.”

He hit it – even held it a few extra beats – and from that moment the fans were as adoring and reverential as any rock crowd I’ve seen. A mixture of approval and relief, it worked wonders on the group, who in their own way must have been as anxious as the audience.

The tension gone, it became possible to appreciate the group looked onstage: Crosby, overweight, but magnetic; Nash, seemingly ageless; Stills, far more striking than in recent photographs. They radiated warmth and easiness. As the evening progressed, many smiles of satisfaction passed between Crosby and Stills.

Drummer Joe Vitale, bassist George Perry and keyboardist Craig Doerge provided strong and unobtrusive backup during-the 45-minute opening set. But emotion didn’t start flowing until the hour-long acoustic set. After Stills proved himself on “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” he said he was leaving the audience “in the very capable hands of my partners.” Crosby and Nash then harmonized with chilling beauty on “Guinnevere.” With Stills gone, they seemed slightly more sure of themselves, a natural duo.

Stills returned for ”Our House,” and when it came time to sing the bridge (la-la-la etc.), both he and Crosby looked uncomfortable. Spontaneously, the crowd rose to the occasion, taking the song away from the trio and singing it themselves at full volume. CS&N just kept playing, their expressions of incredulity giving way to genuine gratitude.

Next came the best song of the evening, Graham Nash’s “Cathedral,” from the new album, CSN. Inspired by one of his acid trips, it starts slowly, gathers force and crescendos on the line “And I am high, upon the altar.” The word “high,” sung in perfect harmony and stretched over three notes, sent shivers through the crowd, and even Nash looked transfixed.

No CS&N concert would be complete without a political message. To close the second set, greenish images of whales and dolphins appeared on a movie screen. Over an inspirational jazz medley, CS&N played their guitars furiously and sang a wordless choral dirge leading into “Wind on the Water.” It was a beautiful piece, and the message was clear: forget about four dead in Ohio – it’s ecological disaster time.

The third set, electric again, featured a slightly boozy but cooking version of “Dark Star,” some great Stills guitar on Nash’s “Military Madness” and a truly hot finale, “Carry On.” After two encores, audience and band went home happy, having learned how easily dormant passions can be rekindled.

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