Stills & Young and Friends Light Up the Blues: Sometimes, a show is bigger than the music. This is one of those occasions, and for all sorts of reasons.
This was the sixth Light Up the Blues concert, organized by Stephen and Kristen Stills to raise funds and awareness for Autism Speaks. And while the music that came later at the Greek Theatre was spectacular, the speech by Love on the Spectrum cast member Dani Bowman and the performance by rapper Soulshocka were incredibly touching. Their successes are what the event is really all about.
That said, it’s impossible to ignore just how momentous the evening’s music was. With Jeff Garlin and Camryn Manheim replacing the advertised Jack Black as MC, the early artists came thick and fast. Two songs each for Sharon Van Etten, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real and Chris Stills.
Eagles man Joe Walsh received a rapturous reception when he strutted out and uttered his trademark “How you doin’?” Even he only got the two songs, but they were classics — “Life’s Been Good” and “Rocky Mountain Way.” It wouldn’t be the last time we saw Walsh though, he was on and off all night, performing with the other stars.
Lukas Nelson reappeared with his legendary dad; a seated Willie gave us a taste of his forthcoming birthday spectacular taking place at the Hollywood Bowl. “Funny How Time Slips Away,” “Crazy” and “Night Life” came and went in a blur.
There was, of course, time for a tribute to fallen comrade David Crosby. First, Graham Nash (unable to be in L.A. due to a prior engagement) appeared on a screen to talk about his best friend before we watched Crosby and Nash run through “Guinevere” together. Then Stills arrived on stage with son Chris, Crosby collaborator Steve Postell, and Crosby’s son James Raymond, to perform an incredible “Wooden Ships.”
Walsh was back to play Stills’ own “Love the One You’re With” alongside Stills. Then it was time for Neil Young’s first live appearance in five years. “From Hank to Hendrix” blended into “Comes a Time” then “Heart of Gold,” and everything was wonderful.
It only got better — the Stills & Young / Buffalo Springfield reunion really started to roll with “Helpless,” though the set was heavily weighted towards BS tunes. If “On the Way Home” and “Everybody’s Wrong” were awesome, “For What It’s Worth” was dazzlingly incredible. The set ended with “Bluebird,” “Mr. Soul” and finally the Stills-Young Band’s “Long May You Run.”
Yes, the cause was bigger than the music. But by god, the music was glorious.
Stills & Young and Friends Light Up the Blues
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