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Crosby Ignites Stills & Nash at Pacific Amphitheatre

Adoring, nostalgic audiences have let Crosby, Stills & Nash slide by on nights when they sounded as if their ability, enthusiasm and relevance to ‘80s pop were a long time gone. But ignited by David Crosby’s powerful, assured singing, the group earned its ovations Saturday at the Pacific Amphitheatre. Old songs outnumbered new by four to one in a sprawling, 2 1/2-hour concert, but CS&N; and a fine four-man backing band performed with plenty of punch and a surprising sense of fun that kept most of the music fresh.

Crosby was a revelation. The audience showered him with affection for his much-discussed comeback from drug addiction and prison, but his forceful performance stood on its own, without any need of the crutch of sentiment. At several peak moments, Crosby seemed to draw on an unlimited reserve of emotion, confidence and vocal control.

Now Stephen Stills is the member the others must carry. He remains a supple and effective guitarist, but his voice was a hollow husk that was only intermittently serviceable for the band’s harmonies. Graham Nash was a solid utility man who turned in consistently good harmonies as well as a lovely, if slavishly faithful, solo version of Simon & Garfunkel’s “America.”


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