Stephen Stills and Judy Collins are a couple again in 2017; this time on a tour that began July 27th and runs through November 4th. We saw the second show, July 28th, at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights. Despite the anticipation and excitement of this reunion, a fine layer of rust was evident during the 90 minute performance.
The night began with the couple doing a ragged version of The Traveling Wilburys' 'Handle Me With Care.' The song seemed a slightly off kilter, with Collins' voice drowning out Stills. We hoped the boys at the mixing board would correct the vocals. Unfortunately, it never happened.
While the music improved immeasurably as the evening progressed, it never quite reached a place where we felt the duo and the band were completely in sync. It seemed to us that a few more days in rehearsal would have really helped.
However, that's not say there weren't highlights or that we (or the audience) didn't enjoy the show. Stills and Collins had an amiable banter, with Collins telling the best stories, and offering sexually infused quips, quoting both Mae West, the mid-20th century film star and the writer Dorothy Parker: "one martini, two at the most. After three I'm under the table. After four, I'm under the host." Judy eventually sounded like a horny old broad who needed someone to 'put the wood to her.'
Stills seemed tired or stoned or both, as he struggled with a few guitar solos, and fell behind Collins on occasion as they harmonized. He is 72, so maybe it's just a case of him losing his fastball. It happens to us all.
The couple paid a warm tribute to the late Leonard Cohen, who Collins said had the 'good sense to die on Election Day.' They performed fine versions of 'Everybody Knows' and 'Suzanne.'
A duet of Bob Dylan's 'Girl from the North Country,' was heartfelt and sweet, and a totally appropriate 'love lost lament,' given the couples' romantic history.
Of course, and as expected, Stills and Collins ended the evening with an abbreviated version of 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,' the still remarkable ode to Collins, Stills' former lover.