ALPHARETTA -- That cruel mistress Time spares none as she leaves her mark in passage. Even so, there are those who defy her ravages, who hold on to the gifts she would reclaim.
A gathering of old rock and rollers -- survivors of the Woodstock generation -- brought their children and grandchildren to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater at Encore Park here last Saturday to be transported to a time that, as one remarked, "was about 25 pounds ago." Whether measured in years -- or pounds -- wistful looks of days gone by were worn by the revelers left amazed at the still magnificent vocal powers of hippie-era rock icons David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash.
The trio's hair might have been grayer and thinner, and they might have added a few of those pounds themselves, but their heavenly voices meshed as they did four decades ago, throwing a rapt audience collectively into a time machine that, for three amazing hours, erased their own concessions to Time.
From the opening strains of the 1969 classic "Carry On" to the closing "Do-do, do-do-do-do-dos" of the still amazing "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," Crosby, Stills and Nash proved to be as timeless as the 22 songs they performed. And even though Stills' voice had a rough edge to it that kept him from hitting some of the notes on the high end of his register, he more than made up for it by playing some of the most blistering guitar this side of Gary Clark Jr.
Audience members who came for the hits weren't disappointed: CSN offered awe-inspiring versions of "Chicago," "Southern Cross," "Our House," "Just a Song Before I Go," "Long Time Gone," "Wooden Ships." The three went beyond their group catalog and the one they shared with former comrade Neil Young, though, offering a couple of Buffalo Springfield tunes (of course they did "For What It's Worth" ... how could they not have?), the Crosby and Nash masterpiece "Lay Me Down" and a pair of Nash's solo tunes.
Nash was a wonder on his excellent "Military Madness" and the haunting "In Your Name," while Crosby's vocals on "Almost Cut My Hair" -- which allowed Stills to show off his guitar chops to full effect -- and the lovely "Guinnevere" were as powerful as they were back in the beginning.
The trio also introduced a new song, "Radio," that fit seamlessly alongside the time-tested classics.
CSN took a 15-minute break after closing out the 12 songs of their opening set with a blistering "For What It's Worth," and finished up a 10-song second set with as amazing a five-song sequence -- "Military Madness," "Our House," "Almost Cut My Hair," "Wooden Ships" and "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" -- as any fan could have hoped for.
Alas, even as the CSN-fueled musical time machine dropped a happy audience back at the Verizon Amphitheater for its inevitable but reluctant return trip home, their musical memories fading into the Georgia night with the last notes of perhaps the greatest of the group's songs, there was consolation. Each had added a few more sweet memories to his or her collection.