Saturday night the prevailing hairstyle at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta might have included a lot of gray. But that didn't mean the place wasn't rocking, as Crosby, Stills and Nash were performing hits - and even new music.
The legenday trio started out with some of their most popular hits, but I was more focused–pun intended–on getting some good photos for the few songs I was allowed to stand on the far side in front of the stage. I was told I was being placed so far to the side of the stage because CSN didn't really want to see me. I could understand that, when David Crosby admitted no one gets into music for the money, or the music. For them it was women so many years ago. "We learned to love the music," he said.
The crowd clearly loved the music. "Southern Cross," "Marakesh Express" and many other hits poured out of the mouths of the twice-over Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame inductees.
At one point the crowd was told to sit down because the next song wasn't one of their hits, pulling a laugh out of the concertgoers.
That introduced the audience to the song "Lay Me Down," written by Crosby's son, James Raymond.
The bandmates were a bit nervous about their next song, Crosby said, called "Radio." A positive song about being able to help someone, the song used a nautical theme to pass its message along. What had him nervous was that it is a new song.
A good portion of the crowd didn't appreciate the dedication of a "song for an American hero" by Graham Nash, calling Bradley Manning a hero for his role in passing information on to Wikileaks. But the boos ended when the song started, and at the end it was all cheers again.
Another relatively new song offered up by Nash as prayer to the deity of your choice, "In Your Name" asked for an end to the killing in God's name.
Throughout the night it was clear the trio doesn't have all the control of their voices that they had in their youth, but they used that to their advantage, singing within their limits or pushing beyond them to create new versions of old favorites. And their best today is far better than so many other performers that they didn't fail their audience. As far as Crosby's voice, on the other hand, it's hard to tell there's any loss in three decades of performing. You'd expect CSN to harmonize well after performing together for so many years, and they don't disappoint. When their voices seemed to stray, these seasoned performers turned to each other and worked back into full harmony.
"Love the One You're With," "Our House" and Crosby's "Almost Cut My Hair" were a few of the other songs in their set list.
Stephen Stills said it's unusual for CSN to perform somebody else's music, but they'd make an exception for Bob Dylan, as he took lead vocals on "Girl from the North Country."
Throughout the night Stills kept the audience thrilled with his electric guitar playing. Oddly the "younger" (by three years) Stills left the stage for more breaks than Crosby and Nash, but that was just when one or both of the other parts of the trio had songs that didn't require his harmonizing or guitar work. Even then, most of the time he was just off stage in the dark.
Only a few things could possibly mar the evening, and they were so slight that I doubt anyone cared. The projector on the right side of the amphitheater stopped working fairly early in the concert, so if you were in seats behind the soundboard or on the lawn, you lost one of two opportunities to see the performers as much more than tiny figures on the stage.
Also, While I was standing against the concrete wall of the stage, I couldn't believe so many people were right in front of speakers without any hearing protection, so I'm going to offer some advice: If you don't have ear plugs, go to Guest Services right beside the gates at the amphitheater. You can get as many pairs of soft ear plugs as you need. If the music is loud enough to draw complaints from Roswell, I'd say you need them if you are in the first few rows of seats. And my audiologist would say everybody at the concert needs them.