Getting by with a little help from his friends, Stephen Stills calmed nervous Salt Palace staffers and a convinced a vigorous crowd of 7,500 that concerts can end on a positive note.
The older generation - now parents of the younger generation - and the younger generation - now discovering their parents' long-lost world of love and peace and tie-dyed dreams - stood together, swaying in a 90 minute love-in.And Stephen Stills, playing Pied Piper for both generations, seemed genuinely delighted. He responded by giving his all, though straining at times to catch the high notes. He semi-yelled his opener, "Love The One You're With," but nobody cared. He explained, "Everybody in California has had the same flu about four times." And as promised, Stills and his backup trio certainly did "make do."
And yes, Mr. Stills, EVERYONE could understand the songs.
Fans followed every word of the 13-song set; arms raised, fingers bent in peace signs, bodies swaying to a varied slate of mellow oldies and folk-rock anthems.
The evening's bonus was keyboardist Michael Finnegan, who stole the show with his raucous blues piece with the refrain:
Grits ain't groceries,
Eggs ain't poultries,
And Mona Lisa was a man.
Finnegan, a much sought-after West Coast studio musician, has toured with Maria Muldaur, Rod Stewart and the late Jimi Hendrix. His masterful jazz organ jamming and soulful synthesizer, coupled with funky R&B lyrics were crowd favorites.
The night ended all too soon, but the insistent crowd cheered Stills and company back onstage for a memorable double encore of "Southern Cross" and "Woodstock," which Stills said is "a song not about a place, but a state of mind."
Stills' own words were haunting and timely: "We've got to get ourselves back to the garden."