Crosby, Stills & Nash at the Santa Barbara Bowl
Paul Wellman

Only a year after playing to a sold-out crowd at the Santa Barbara Bowl, David Crosby, Steven Stills, and Graham Nash returned to deliver a finely crafted show, full of Woodstock nostalgia, last Thursday night.

The legendary folk trio has been playing together for 40 years, and the crowd full of graying, tie-dye-clad hippies that turned out last week only gave proof of the band’s longevity. The three share a brotherly dynamic on stage, helping their two sets flow by seamlessly.

“Steven writes absolutely fantastic rock ‘n’ roll,” Crosby said. “Graham’s job is to write the anthems heard around the world. And my job is to write the weird shit-a job which I am particularly well-suited for.”

The group started the night with a mesmerizing rendition of “Helplessly Hoping,” followed by “Wasted on the Way.” The audience was immediately hooked, with even the ushers shamelessly grooving to “Our House.”

The group, a product of the demise of Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, and The Hollies, paid tribute to a slew of notable artists over the course of the night. “This one’s for Jerry Garcia,” said Crosby, as they belted out the beloved Grateful Dead tune “Uncle John’s Band.”

While the recognizable cover songs, such as the Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday,” left the stadium in a toe-tapping frenzy, it was their electrifying “Wooden Ships” that sent fans back to a psychedelic decade where peace and free love reigned.

Even the classic melodies could not hide the occasional rough patch, with Stills offering a few raspy notes in the place of a more evenly intended sound of “Girl from the North Country.”

In true hippie fashion, their performance included a splash of activism. Lamenting the Japanese whaling industry, Crosby introduced their song “To the Last Whale,” giving praise to the indie documentary The Cove.

After closing with Buffalo Springfield’s “Bluebird” and “For What It’s Worth,” the group was beckoned back to the stage by incessant whistles and a standing ovation from the packed amphitheatre. The enthusiasm prompted CSN to close the night with the powerful anti-war anthem “Teach Your Children,” proving that certain songs, like certain bands, never go out of style.


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