Crosby & Nash
The 60s folk-rockers are still impassioned, unfortunately the same can't be said for their audience
There’s no Stephen Stills, and definitely no Neil Young, but the other two members of ’60s and ’70s supergroups Crosby, Stills & Nash and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are still standing – and touring.
David Crosby and Graham Nash are 70 and 69 years old respectively, but their enthusiasm for rock ‘n’ roll and the road remains.
The ins, outs, ups and downs of the pair’s recording career are as labyrinthine as the various names they have recorded under. In addition to CN, CSN and CSNY, there’s Crosby’s time with the Byrds and Nash’s stint with the Hollies to consider, as well as a mountain of individual solo releases.
It’s a lot to get through in an evening, but the white-haired duo give it a reasonable shot.
Tonight’s Waterfront Hall concert is seemingly the first gig in Northern Ireland for either man. ‘I’m not sure we’ve ever played Belfast before,’ coos Nash. ‘Now you’re in for it!’ He’s joking, of course, but after the first hour of interminable dirges it’s starting to sound more like a threat.
Nash, all bare feet and affected banter (he’s been delivering the quip about knocking down the venue to build a 7-Eleven for years), pads about on a Persian rug, with Crosby – surly, motionless, moustachioed – to his left.
They’re not much to look at for three hours, and the half-full hall only adds to the sense of limpness. But it’s the music that is the biggest problem – pompous jams, obscure new songs and a stubborn refusal to honour any requests shouted their way.
There is the occasional gem, of course. ‘Don’t Dig Here’, penned by Crosby’s keyboardist son James Raymond, is a solid piece of work, and ‘Military Madness’ – a 1971 Nash solo track – offers the closest thing tonight to a chorus.
Both feature the singers’ trademark politicised lyrics, the former dealing with the disposal of nuclear waste atop Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, the latter, in its own words, ‘war, war, war, war, war, war’.
There are numerous incensed speeches during the show, though at up to £49 a ticket it’s hard to take the sermonising seriously.
Crosby, flitting in and out of a mock Irish accent, appears to have been somewhat scarred by the ’60s. ‘There’s little aliens in me head,’ he mutters at one point, to even Nash’s bemusement (and they’ve been working together, as they continually remind us, for more than 40 years).
Nash, meanwhile, blushes at his partner’s mention of the Hollies – though he should perhaps bear in mind that his former bandmates pulled about twice as many people to this venue just a couple of weeks ago, and at half the ticket price.
As the set progresses and people start shifting in their seats, the twosome delve into the early CSN and CSNY albums, to much delight. ‘Cathedral’, ‘Almost Cut My Hair’ and ‘Teach Your Children’ end the night on a high, though it is too little, too late.
‘You don’t need us – you just need yourself,’ pouts Nash as he exits the stage. He’s got the first part right, but after this all I need is a lie down – and I don’t seem to be the only one. In the third row, a man has fallen asleep.