Think its one of those songs whereby every version is incredibly different so comparison is kind of hard, as the Dixie Chicks is a sing-along and the Neil/CH versions are more atmospheric and dramatic if you ask me, and the crescendo is just amazing. I actually quite like the Dixie Chicks version, although that’s probably because it was the only version of it around for so long, so it feels very familiar.
But personally, for me, that song will always be about Neil solo with Elly-May backing vocals. It is interesting to speculate what it would have been like as a Neil solo song. From memory when Neil sang it (with Elly-May) in Bath in October (so I guess in solo/CH overlap) it was like the Stowe version but rougher and I feel a bit edgier somehow, but can’t quite put my finger on it, and my memory is not exactly reliable. I don’t think Mark does a bad job with the backing vocals, but I do prefer Elly-May’s - can’t wait for the CH studio version, though, may well change my mind.
I agree with the Neil-y chorus speculation too.