“Young’s Hot, Stills’s Not”
Nassau Colliseum, Hempstead, New York, July 1, 1976
Author: Dave Marsh
Journal: Rolling Stone
Date: August 28th, 1976


THE MOST TELLING MOMENT in this traveling historical revue came when Stephen Stills began to sing “Bluebird,” the most beautiful and dynamic song he’s ever written. The audience granted its opening chords one of the grandest ovations of the night. But Stills can no longer reach the notes and in the end, it was an embarrassment.

This tour was probably inevitable – David Crosby and Graham Nash’s 1975 success made a Stills/Young pairing too lucrative to pass up. But it was never much more than a bad idea gone wrong. Though both Stills and Young remained trapped by entropy, they’ve evolved in strikingly separate ways: Young has found courage and even inspiration in his ennui, while Stills (on the evidence of his recent recording work) has only succumbed to his. This concert did nothing to dispel those trite categorizations, and much to reinforce them.

Young, in fact, has never seemed so animated, bouncing from one side of the stage to the other, leading the band, playing guitar and piano, singing with what amounts to abandon. But even so, he never committed himself fully to the duet idea: Aside from a single unrecorded song, the most recent material he sang was a pair of songs from After the Gold Rush. Some of what he did was awesome: a crackling guitar interchange with Stills on “Southern Man,” a spookier than usual “Helpless,” a pleasantly nostalgic “Cowgirl in the Sand.” But on “Helpless” the supporting harmonies of Crosby and Nash were missed and the attempt to recapture the spirit of Buffalo Springfield, most notably with “For What It’s Worth,” went aground on the shoals of its own portentousness. A few songs from Time Fades Away, On the Beach, Tonight’s the Night or Zuma could have redeemed the show. Those jagged, bitter songs might also have redeemed Stills during the pair’s few guitar interchanges.

In the crudest sense, the Stills/Young tour is filler, occupying space between more worthwhile projects for both men. It would hardly be fair to call the show worthless, but it certainly stands as one of the season’s great disappointments.

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