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Review: Crosby Stills and Nash at The Sage Gateshead

Matt McKenzie went along to The Sage Gateshead to catch rock supergroup Crosby Stills and Nash

Ian West/PA Wire Crosby Stills and Nash
Crosby Stills and Nash

‘We're supposed to be dead,’ says David Crosby, very much alive and celebrating continued creativity.

But let’s postpone judgement on their new material (possibly not vintage), because actually, the chance to hear some of rock’s most seminal, enduring and mythologised songs played by the men who wrote them is why I’m here.

Take Our House. It brings a smile to my face because it is delivered beautifully, but also because Graham Nash explains he wrote it when Joni Mitchell bought a vase from an antiques shop. They got home. He remembers saying: “Tell you what, I’ll light the fire, you put the flowers in the vase that you bought today…”

This was two-and-a-half hours of our most fabled supergroup showing us that they can still do it and, occasionally, that they can’t.

The dynamic of CS&N has always been one band, three distinct characters and styles: Crosby is made of legends, writes the “weird” stuff (his words), looks like King Arthur and sings of Guinnevere. Nash is full of old rock moves. But Stills is the spirit of rock rebel, wired, always hinting at mayhem.

Other highpoints include Nash’s baroque Cathedral and Love The One You’re With (Stills again). But Helplessly Hoping, harmonising as sublime you’d hope to hear, is let down by, well, less than perfect harmonies as age catches up.

Then Our House, Teach Your Children, Almost Cut My Hair (a deliriously deranged delivery by Crosby), a fearsome Wooden Ships.

They finish with that Stills masterpiece, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, with astonishing acoustic guitar and that famous ending. They did it at Woodstock. This was surely as good.

 

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