When I heard that CSNY were playing in the NY region, I was curious - but when I heard they were playing at the site of Woodstock '69, I just had to go...
So on Sunday, I hit the New York State Thruway road on a beautiful afternoon. Unlike '69, it was still open. Swung into Rt 17 to Bethel, home of Yasgur's Farm. The event was a sell out, so we waited patiently for the doors to open. Bethel Woods Arts Center, a beautiful site on Yasgur's Farm, was a brand new concert facility with pavilion and lawn seating - really more a venue for the Boston Pops than CSNY.
As I found my way to the pavilion, I saw the field on the side of the hill where Woodstock happened. Hallowed ground! It was lit by an afternoon sun that made it glow. I felt like a pilgrim that finally made it after a 40 year journey...
The show started at 7.30 with the classic "Carry On" and David Crosby saying a simple "It's great to be back". The music had changed over the years, they were working around the high notes in their harmonies ( "Don't let the past...") and the softer guitar sound had now become a massive wall of sound.
The band was amazing and they did "Wooden Ships", "Guinivere", "Our House" and other staples. Neil Young did his "Rockin' in the Free World" - these guys remain guitar masters.
The show had two sets, and the show ended at 11 pm. Needless to say, the finale was "Woodstock", and what an ending it was.
My impressions: I had gone hoping that maybe the Spirit of Woodstock was still lurking in the hills, ready to be summoned to bring a better life to this planet. Not so: the place was spotlessly clean, no doors to perception being opened, and it felt more like Burbstock. I saw a lone sign on the road that said "Welcome Back to the Garden". Back in '69, America was a nation deeply divided like it is now, and we need something/someone to bring us back together again.