EARTHING up some 1960s idealism, singers Crosby, Stills & Nash are touring to promote not only a new album but a better world. Titled after their new release, the ``LIVE IT UP' tour, sounding its way through the United States and Canada, is a celebration of new and old ``CSN,'' as one might expect. Here at Great Woods Center for the Performing Arts, the harmonic trio played a lengthy concert of more than 30 songs to an audience of all ages.
``We really do believe we can change the world...'' said Graham Nash, standing barefoot center stage, at the close of the song ``Chicago,'' hinting at the show's theme: a better world for people (children) and the environment. After getting over difficult times in the 1980s, mostly drug-related, the group seems to have revived for a new decade. Keeping hope alive is the subject of Stephen Stills's Latin-flavored song ``Gotta Keep Open'' from ``LIVE IT UP.''
With a talented backup band, CSN opened the show with ``Love the One You're With,'' ``Change Partners,'' and Crosby's ``Drive My Car.'' Yet the second set was much more effective - musically and visually. It was also predominantly acoustic. Highlights included: ``Wasted on the way,'' ``Guinnevere;'' and ``Daylight Again,'' with ``Find the Cost of Freedom'' accompanied by Civil War photos in the background. A solo by Nash called ``Try to Find Me,'' was dedicated to a boy with cerebral palsy - one of several songs directed at children.
Another dedication was ``to the entire planet which is `Our House,''' said David Crosby, which prompted a mass sing-a-long of the still-popular song from the group's ``Deja vu'' album.
Before singing ``Yours and Mine,'' (from ``LIVE IT UP''), Crosby brought to people's attention a recent cover of Time magazine showing a young boy equipped for war. The lyrics began: ``I see a boy of 14, he's got a rifle in his hand/He's dying to defend his desert land/He's got an arm around his father, another arm around his gun/ Must the child in the father die so young? ...''
Visually the stage's backdrop featured a series of views through large windows. In keeping with the same inside-looking-out feeling later, a gigantic porthole emerged which at one point featured film footage of whaling as the group performed a powerful tribute to ``The Last Whale.''
The high point of the show came with the song ``Wooden Ships'' when an incredible life-size rendering of a ship's rig appeared behind the band.
Audience participation in ``Southern Cross'' and ``Woodstock'' led into a heartening finale: Dedicated ``to the children of the world,'' CSN and the crowd sang ``Teach Your Children.'' Two little girls joined the band on stage while photographs of other children from around the world flashed one by one behind them, ending with a photo of planet Earth.
The next stop on the band's coast-to-coast tour is Columbia, Md., Aug. 10, 11.