There’s a feel­ing of warmth and unmis­tak­able pride here in Man­ches­ter as we await Cros­by, Stills and Nash to make their entrance. For Gra­ham Nash, it’s his home­com­ing gig – the Black­pool-born, Sal­ford-raised kid who helped cre­ate hip­py history.

Car­ry On is the open­er, and it’s those dis­tinc­tive, urgent vocals of Steve Stills, ris­ing and break­ing free from the Nash/Crosby har­monies, that tug at one’s emo­tive core. His gui­tar play­ing is also riv­et­ing, espe­cial­ly on the blues num­bers, which we get an ear­ly taste of with Long Time Gone.

They play plen­ty of new­er mate­r­i­al – this stops the band from being like The Eagles, Nash cheek­i­ly says. Recent songs include a stir­ring ren­di­tion of Nash’s Burn­ing for the Bud­dha, which is ded­i­cat­ed to Tibet’s ongo­ing strug­gle against Chi­na where monks protest by self-immo­lat­ing. And it’s not just music that Cros­by, Stills & Nash have  been busy with; solo projects include Nash’s recent auto­bi­og­ra­phy Wild Tales.

Steve Stills singingNat­u­ral­ly there are plen­ty of clas­sics mak­ing up the long set (there’s a 20-minute break in the mid­dle), such as Win­ches­ter Cathe­dral, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Teach Your Chil­dren, which reveal how endur­ing their har­monies real­ly are. Towards the end, Love the One You’re With turns into an audi­ence sin­ga­long. Some­times the vocals – of all three of them – are a tad wav­ery, but the songs are so embed­ded in my brain that the lit­tle blips hard­ly mat­ter. It’s just won­der­ful to have them here, still tour­ing. Stephen Stills’ voice is the more inclined to let him down but he deliv­ers the high­light of the evening, Tree­top Fly­er, his blues gui­tar play­ing is still flu­id and sublime.

Over the evening, Nash is the most com­mu­nica­tive of the three, maybe it’s his excite­ment of being back on home ter­ri­to­ry (there are ded­i­ca­tions to his sis­ter and fam­i­ly and a ‘great to be home’ at the end). Cros­by is a lit­tle more reserved, although his dry humour shines through. Adding great­ly to the evening are the five impec­ca­ble musi­cians accom­pa­ny­ing CS&N, includ­ing Shane Fontayne on gui­tar and Ste­vie D on drums. The encore is a per­fect choice: the endur­ing clas­sic For What it’s Worth before we head out into the driz­zly Man­ches­ter night .

 

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