LOS ANGELES - Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young brought contemporary lyrics and rhythms to the Greek Theatre on Aug. 25.
The teaming provided a program rich in melodic strength, clarity of tones and a profusion of country and rock strains.
The first half of CSNY's act was pure unamplified guitar expertise and a very heavy diet of rich harmonic singing. Graham Nash, a former Hollie, was a roving harmony singer, working with David Crosby, a former Byrd, and with Neil Young, formerly with Buffalo Springfield.
The opening number, "What Have You Got to Lose," which ran for a rousing 12 minutes, featured the original trio, with Young, the newest member appearing on the sixth selection. During this first half of the group's act, the set resembled musical chairs as Stephen Stills, another former Springfield member, and his associates each took solos.
The group's rich harmony work resembles a country music barbershop quartet. They sang their own compositions, with Stills, the lead guitarist, offering a traditional country blues song about a lost love.
It took eight songs for all the players to get on stage. And after one number they put down their acoustic instruments and went amplified, which completely changed the mood from softness and delicateness to a hardened, driving rock, more urban than countrified.
CSNY sang 14 songs and completely avoided offering their chart single, "Marrakesh Express." A number of the songs they did offer carried the banner of youth and its strong beliefs in humanity. "Long Time Gone," "Find the Cost of Freedom" and "Stick Together" done with Miss Mitchell as the finale, carried the political banner forward.
Miss Mitchell, frail in appearance, but possessing a beautiful voice, rich in clarity and understanding, offered 12 songs, the majority hers. She is a fine unamplified guitarist and pianist, whose simplicity of chord progressions is marked by the complexity of her lyrics. The "Circle Game" was clearly understood, as was "Both Sides Now."
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