Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – In Concert at The Greek Theatre – August 26, 1969 –
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A historic concert this weekend – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in what was only their third live appearance, and presumably the first full concert recorded by the band. Recorded at The Greek Theatre in L.A. on August 26, 1969. Considering their first show ever was in Chicago on August 16th, followed by their legendary Woodstock appearance on August 18th, this gig from August 26th would constitute their third.
There have certainly been other concerts recorded live since, much slicker and better produced – but there is something about this particular concert that makes it, not only special, but important from a historic standpoint. There’s an energy and a sense of newness about this performance that is not so apparent after this. The songs are new, the collaboration is recent, there is a level of nervousness – the songs are not burned into anyone’s memory – even with the first number; Suite Judy Blue Eyes, Nash informs the audience that the song is actually in three parts – not everyone was familiar with their debut album at the time (it was after all, only three months old at the time of this concert) – no one is doing this by rote or phoning it in for the hundredth time.
The recording itself is surprisingly good for the period. Being familiar with the Hollywood Bowl concerts from the same period, this one is several notches better. Still, not perfect – some vocal distortion in places, especially the loud passages. But this is a historic document, an artifact from a deep-distant past – 50 years ago, but surprisingly fresh. And there’s the odd tape-drop out but none of it is distracting enough to stop listening.
Knowing what most of us know now, and how history has turned out and the changes that have happened since this concert, it’s hard to imagine yourself somewhere at the Greek Theatre in 1969, listening to this band for the first time whose members you are familiar with only from other groups. I think if you could, you’d realize how amazing this all was and how it all seemed to happen by accident.