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Concert Reviews:
Stephen Stills, Judy Collins make a "Suite" pairing at Meadow Brook
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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ROCHESTER HILLS -- The lyric of the Stills Young Band’s “Long May You Run” -- “we find things to do in stormy weather” -- was seldom more appropriate than during Stephen Stills and Judy Collins’s concert on Saturday night, June 9, at the Meadow Brook Amphitheatre.

The show, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the two artists’ meeting -- and a subsequent romantic relationship that inspired Crosby, Stills & Nash’s indelible “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” -- was dampened, and then some, by constant rain, including a deluge that hit early in the show. That chased any of the criminally small crowd of less than 2,000 who chose to remain on the lawn into the pavilion -- or out of the venue altogether-- and even then wet mists managed to infiltrate even the center portion of the covered seats throughout the night.

Despite that, there were surely worse “things to do,” even on a rainy evening, than spend 100 minutes listening to Stills and Collins. Though career wear and tear was evident to varying degrees for each of them, the pair still presented a likeable and at times revelatory 17-song set spiced with insightful storytelling -- none moreso than when Stills and Collins recounted how they met during 1968, at a Cream concert in Los Angeles, before playing “Who Knows Where The Time Goes?,” the Sandy Denny song which Stills said he “begged” his way into play for Collins’ album of the same name.

Mostly the night celebrated Collins’ still-impressive voice and Stills’ still-exciting guitar playing, with hot solos deployed during near every song and especially on the Buffalo Springfield pairing of “For What It’s Worth” and “Bluebird” that closed the main body of the show. Stills said at one point that loved being able to play other people’s songs -- noting that he’s played many of his own hits “to death” -- and Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows,” the title track from the duo’s 2017 album, and Stills’ rendition of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” were highlights.

But the bulk of the night came from the two artist’s catalogs, including Collins’ hit version of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides, Now” and “Houses” and Stills pokes into more Buffalo Springfield (“Questions”) and his bands Manassas (“So Beings The Task”) and CSN (“Southern Cross”). They didn’t shirk from their outspoken political perspectives either: before Stills apologized to Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau and “the people of Canada for the faux pas of our leader,” Donald Trump, at the recent G7 summit; and noted that “For What It’s Worth,” a protest anthem inspired by anti-war demonstrations in Los Angeles during the late 60s, is “a song we haven’t needed...for a few years, but now we do.”

And Collins a capella delivery of “Maria,” a mother singing about her dreamer daughter’s deportation fears, held Meadow Brook in silent, reverent attention.

The show ended appropriately with the latter half of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” sending everyone home soggy but still satisfied they’d seen a bonafide musical moment that’s been a long time coming.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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