Photos by Mark J. Smith
With Shane Fontayne helping on guitar and vocals, Graham Nash walked on stage and immediately broke into the Hollies’ hit “Bus Stop.” If I couldn’t see it for myself, I never would have guessed that there were only two guys up there. It was an expected but fantastic way to start a concert of selections from Graham Nash’s extensive songbook.
Nash was very much at ease, fitting for a guy who has been playing these songs for 40 years. He would lead into a song with a short anecdote about how he came to write the song, for example, when he came to the US, he followed the Beat poet Alan Ginsberg, not because he was into poetry, but because he loved the drugs. Out of those travels came “Marrakesh Express,” one of my favorites. One incredible song after another followed. “Immigration Man,” “I Used to Be a King,” “Golden Days”– all great songs.
Nash was very open, telling the audience what a hectic year it has been for him. But his song, “Myself At Last,” off his new album, was written for his new girlfriend, and he described how he has, after many years, finally found himself, and is comfortable with what he’s found. He told us about going sailing for the first time with David Crosby, a quick sail… which turned into 19 days at sea. On their adventure, they encountered a beautiful blue whale, and the lights went way down and we heard a choral piece composed by Crosby, followed by his song “To the Last Whale…A. Critical Mass B. Wind on the Water.” Beautiful.
Set one ended with the audience singing along with “Our House,” which he wrote after returning to Joni Mitchell’s house one day and telling her, “I’ll light the fire, you place the flowers in the vase that you bought today.” Realizing the poetry in his words, he then ran to her piano and wrote the song.
After a short intermission, set two kicked off about another hour of CSN or CSNY songs as well as the title song from the new album, This Path Tonight, to be launched mid-April. At the end, Nash said that there is no better encore than to cover a Beatles song. He and Shane did a beautiful version of “Blackbird” and then a house-rocking singalong, Teach your Children. What a great night.
—Mark J. Smith