Monday, August 10, 2015

Graham Nash Live At The Keswick Theater, Glenside, PA, August 8, 2015

Nash on the cover of his recent autobiography 
Every time I tell myself that the music I love the most won my affection only because it was the soundtrack of my generation, and not because it is superior to what followed, I have an experience like the one I had on Saturday night and I get defensive of the classic rock era all over again. The experience was Graham Nash.

The two time hall of famer played a two hour set of music that spanned his entire career. He played acoustic guitar, harmonica, electric piano, and regaled us with a lot of stories.

Nash's only sideman, Shane Fontayne, supplied electric guitar while harmonizing eloquently with the star all evening.  Fontayne has also played lead for Sting and Bruce Springsteen as well as serving as the second lead guitarist for Crosby, Stills, and Nash. He also worked with Joe Cocker, Chris Botti, and Marc Cohn and recently released his first solo album.

The Blackpool, UK native opened the show with two Hollies' songs, "Bus Stop" and "King Midas In Reverse," and they were the only tunes we heard from the songbook of the band that first brought him to prominence.

Nash is a great storyteller.  He told us about the Moroccan train ride that inspired "Marrakesh Express" from Crosby Stills, and Nash's eponymous debut record.  Later he played "Lady of the Island" from the same album.

Another story preceded "Our House."  It's about Nash's relationship with then girlfriend Joni Mitchell and how their day out shopping inspired the famous song from Deja Vu.

From 1977's CSN we heard the story behind "Just a Song Before I Go," a hit Nash wrote on a dare in an airport while waiting for a plane and another one about his eerie LSD trip that gave birth to the song "Cathedral."

The singer-songwriter played "Wasted on the Way" after he said the quartet could have accomplished so much more if they hadn't been so "messed up" (not the phrase he used) all of the time.

Nash also performed four tracks from his debut solo LP, Songs for Beginners. We heard "Military Madness," "Simple Man," "I Used to be a King," and "Chicago."

Other songs included "Immigration Man," another true story. It's about the time Nash had trouble getting back into the United States from Canada after a tour while his three bandmates breezed through customs.

For "Wind on the Water" the auditorium went black while the the original, hymn-like, acapella introduction to the anti-whaling song Nash and David Crosby released on one of their duet records was played. It segued into the live version of the ballad as the stage lights came back on.

"Oh! Camil (the Winter Soldier)" was a request that Nash hadn't performed in thirty years. He asked a stagehand to google the lyrics so he could get it right after two false starts. It was a funny moment preceding a very serious song about the Viet Nam vet, Scott Camil, who later became a leader in the organization,Viet Nam Veterans Against the War, an act that  landed the ex-soldier on Richard Nixon's enemies list.

Nash gave a lot of credit to Fontayne for his work on the star's new solo album that is coming out soon. The duo wrote twenty songs together on a recent CSN tour and later recorded them in a studio in just eight days. Fontayne also produced the album. They did four songs from it including a tribute to Levon Helm and one about the Michael Brown/Ferguson, MO controversy that so infuriated an audience member he walked out. (All I can say is, "Dude, it's a Graham Nash concert. Did you really expect him NOT to get political?")

The first encore was an early CSN concert standard, The Beatles' "Blackbird," and Fontayne sang lead.   The highlight of the show also ended the evening. My personal Nash favorite, "Teach Your Children," was absolutely perfect.

Because Nash performed every song of consequence he left us wanting nothing while demanding more.

For some in attendance it may have been an evening of nostalgia but it was also a night filled with some of the greatest music from  the classic rock era. I hope that most of those in the sold out Keswick Theater came for the latter reason.

Related Links:
Graham Nash
Shayne Fontayne
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Wild Tales

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