His trademark blond hair may be thinning, his cowboy demeanor giving way to that of a beach bum, and the rasp in his voice has trouble reaching the higher registers.
But one thing is for certain: When Stephen Stills takes the stage, the audience is in the presence of a legend.
From the opening chords of Helplessly Hoping, Stills live performance is one that takes the audience on a journey. You relive the golden, bygone days of Crosby, Stills and Nash (and sometimes Young), and fast-forward to today, where Stills is seeking to find out if the lessons he was trying to teach a generation all those years ago still hold their water.
Throughout his set on this North Carolina night, part of his 2007 summer tour, Stills leans upon the audience, not only for the energy to keep the performance going, but to provide the harmonies. This is especially apparent during the solo interlude of the evening, as Stills plays some of his most popular work and relies upon the audience to hit the high notes.
But by the time the full band kicks in for the rousing crescendo of Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Stills is in full-on guitar-hero mode. Rounding out the set with selections from his solo albums, as well as rocking versions of Southern Cross and Buffalo Springfields For What Its Worth, there are very few holes in Stills two-hour set.
And while his voice may have a few creaks and cracks, Stephen Stills is still proving, some 40 years later, that hes the voice for a generation. Now, though, he manages to hide which generation hes lending it to.
Indy: Neil Young guests on a couple of tracks on your latest solo CD, Man Alive. When you two play in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, it can seem like you're sparring with each other on guitars. How does it feel for you?
SS: If we start playing leads, it gets really ferocious and it looks like we're trying to outplay each other. But, actually, what we're doing is we're tapping into our own inner anger ... this is cheaper than therapy, and we just get going. And we try to lift each other. There's nothing competitive about it.
Indy: Are your solo shows acoustic or with a band?
SS: I tried [solo acoustic] once about 25 years ago, and I didn't last a week. I'm good [solo] for about 30 or 40 minutes, but after that, too many of my songs are based on the structure of how the bass works and the time signature and the rhythm and the interplay.
Indy: You toured with CSN&Y last summer. Will that lead to making new music with Crosby and Nash, or with Young as well?
SS: I want to make another solo album and give CSN [a breather] ... [Crosby and Nash] should evolve some more on their own and just go and do some other kind of playing. That will just make it more exciting to get back together after that. And it gives me the chance to really take this and run with it for awhile.
Gold Rush Palladium, 209 E. Bennett Ave., Cripple Creek
Saturday, June 30, 6 p.m.
Tickets: $18-$42; visit ticketweb.com or call 1-800-235-8239.