It wasn't a concert as much as it was an event. The Woodstock generation just couldn't pass up the chance to relive an era that seems more glorious in memory than reality.
The torrential rains that doused the region and caused major flooding in some areas couldn't dampen the spirits of the faithful who turned out for the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Y2K concert at the First Union Center on March 21, the second of two shows in Philadelphia.
Unlike their Woodstock counterparts, who had to deal with the mud and the monstrous crowds at Max Yasgur's farm more than 30 years ago, the now-40- and-50-somethings expected great things from the band that gave one of its first performances at Woodstock in August 1969, and the guys did not disappoint.
While both artists and fans showed obvious signs of aging, the music seemed frozen in time. David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young put on a three-hour, 30-song performance and still had the crowd wishing for more.
Everything about the show was enjoyable, beginning with a homey set that almost made fans feel as though they were in somebody's living room. The palm plants, candles, Tiffany lamps and organ were a nice touch.
Also worthy of note was the simplicity of the music. The guys resisted the temptation of a large backup band and were accompanied by just two others Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass and Jim Keltner on drums.
Throughout the concert, the performers were generous with their praise of the audience. They expressed their appreciation to the fans several times, and they really looked like they were enjoying themselves onstage. They might be raking in a ton of money on this tour, but CSNY is earning it by pleasing the crowd to no end and not just going through the motions.
As for the playlist, there was an appropriate mix of tunes from the new album, Looking Forward, and plenty of the old standards. After an opening set that lasted about an hour, the band returned with an acoustic set that included Old Man and Our House, which featured Nash on an upright piano, and several cuts from the latest release, such as Dream For Him, Someday Soon and the title track.
Then Young went to the back of the stage for After the Gold Rush. Although his back was to the audience, an overhead video screen captured the singer in the shadows of the candlelight as he sang his song accompanied by only the organ and a harmonica and later by Crosby and Nash, who added harmonies to the choruses.
The band closed out the quiet portion of the show with Teach Your Children, and then the concert kicked into high gear. Stills and Young grabbed electric guitars and broke into Woodstock, Ohio and a rocking version of Love the One You're With, during which both guitarists did solos.
Young then led a rousing version of Down By the River, accompanied by 20,000 voices during the refrain. He also did two extended guitar solos that had the audience mesmerized. The fans came back to life during an electric version of For What It's Worth and an arena-shaking Rockin' in the Free World, which ended the second set.
The guys wrapped up the evening with the pretty Long May You Run, which seemed like an appropriate encore to a night that will be remembered for a long time.
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