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Live Review: David Crosby & Graham Nash @ Governors State University's Center For Performing Arts 10/31/08

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Live Review: David Crosby & Graham Nash @ Governors State University's Center For Performing Arts 10/31/08

With the current Presidential campaign hitting a fever pitch, it’s no surprise to see David Crosby & Graham Nash hitting the touring trails together. Though the two oft-political troubadours are best known as part of a collaborative trio alongside Stephen Stills and, with Stills, as a foursome with Neil Young, they've also occasionally recorded as a duo since 1972. And on Halloween night, all of the various eras of their musical history were on display throughout a nearly two-and-a-half-hour show at the intimate and acoustically inviting Center For Performing Arts on the campus of Governors State University.

The evening built upon the less familiar songs towards monster smashes, including the country-infused “I Used To Be a King,” the pleasant but unremarkable acoustic strummer “Lay Me Down” and the advice to younger generations centered “Dream For Him.” Outside of the duo’s guitar duels and Nash’s occasional slot behind the keyboards, the sound was fleshed out by a flavorful four-piece band that was just as convincing in calm contexts as more aggressive psychedelic jams.

Nash shined throughout the ever appropriate “Chicago” (expanded with bluesy improvisation) while coasting through the melodic masterpiece “Just A Song Before I Go.” As could be expected, the golden oldies were the most appreciated by the sold out audience, including the campfire-styled sing-along “Our House,” the hippie-infused “Wooden Ships,” and later, the increasingly relevant “Military Madness.”

In keeping with the theme of that classic rock anthem, much of the set was strewn with social and political references, including several quips from Crosby about the current administration. “Don’t you think it should be a law that you can’t have control of nuclear weapons if you can’t pronounce the word ‘nuclear?’” he pondered to a hearty round of laughter. Yet the duo’s observations were even more poignant throughout the acapella “What Are Their Names?” (which once again called into question the integrity of government leaders) and “In Your Name” (a somewhat sleepy ballad, but one with brilliant lyrics that questioned those who cite the ongoing war in Iraq as part of God’s orchestration).

Though some of the baby boomers in attendance may have begged to differ, Crosby & Nash were never preachy and proved to be consistently insightful, especially throughout “Puppeteer” (cheekily dedicated to Dick Cheney) and the finale “Teach Your Children” (introduced by Crosby’s shout out to teachers “who should be paid twice what they’re getting”). In the end, the duo didn't just entertain with a trip down memory lane: They presented a number of provocative sentiments that proved just as timely that evening as they were 40 years ago.  

Related links:
News: Crosby, Stills, Nash to record covers album with Rick Rubin
News: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young doc hits U.S. theatres in July
Feature: Paste's 100 Best Living Songwriters

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