Live @ The King Center for the Performing Arts
Live @ The King Center for the Performing Arts
My very first concert at The King Center for the Performing Arts in Melbourne, Florida was David Crosby & Graham Nash almost exactly 23 years ago, on January 17th, 1992. It was a magical night at the King Center that night, as was last night with Graham Nash.
For some odd reason although I love so much of Graham's material, I never really considered what the song selection might be like tonight. So when he opened with "Bus Stop"...I just smiled ear to ear. I forgot for a minute that he was in the Hollies! He quickly followed that one up with "King Midas in Reverse", probably my favorite Hollies' song of his. Graham mentioned it possibly being the best psychedelic pop songs of the 60's. I think he might be on to something there!
Graham mentioned having just broken up with Joni Mitchell while introducing "I Used to be a King" the longest tune that was on Nash's solo debut recording "Songs for Beginners". The original recording featured Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar. Tonight Graham was accompanied by Shane Fontaine, who handled harmonies, and guitar nailing every lead required throughout the night. I looked Shane up online, and he's got quite a resume...which is worth investigating. He worked with everyone from Springsteen, to Ian Hunter, to Joe Cocker, and my pal Freebo.
Up next was a beautiful new tune (the first of 7 new songs), called, I believe, "Golden Days", and then a plaintive "Simple Man", following those two with a string of tunes that really made me think that in a large part, Nash was the conscience of CSN&Y.
"Military Madness" kicked off that set of very emotional songs, followed by "In Your Name", along with "Burning for Buddha" a tune discussing the 150 Tibetan Monks who have set themselves on fire in protest of China's treatment of Tibet. Some of lyrics are "There's a fire in my belly like the surface of the sun. I lay my life down, for the Holy one. I'm burning, for the Buddha. There's nothing left to give, and nothing left to live, for.", and "Almost Gone" a commentary on the unfair imprisonment of Bradly Manning with powerful lyrics like "Tell the truth and it will set you free. That's what they taught me as a child. But I can't be silent now, for all I've seen and done." and "All I did was blow the whistle and the game began. I did my duty to my country first, that's what they taught me as a man. But I can't be silent now, for all I've seen and done, and oh my life, I'm almost done".
Nash then introduced the next song saying, "So one day David says, 'Come sailing'. So I thought, hmmm, nice Sunday afternoon, smoke a joint, go out there on the ocean, then smoke another joint, and get on with it, you know?...No. I was on David's boat for 9 weeks! From Ft. Lauderdale, to San Francisco!" He then described seeing a Blue Whale just off the bow of David's 85ft Yacht, The Mayan, and how that experience helped inspire the writing the song "Wind on the Water". He and Shane played an amazing version of the tune, with Nash on keyboards. But first Graham rolled tape of the beautiful a Capella intro to that song on the album "Critical Mass". Very nice.
The two wrapped up the first set with a much needed (?) up beat tune "Our house" telling the story of then girlfriend Joni Mitchell and him at going to an antiques store, and upon arriving home Graham stated, "You know, I'll light the fire...why don't you, you put some flowers, in that vase...that you bought today". I was particularly moved by two teenage girls in the row behind singing at the top of their lungs! As Graham mention during the set, "If I can't move you with my voice, and guitar, I've got no business being here". Well, obviously he still does.
During that last tune, I received a text from Graham's tour manager letting me know that my posters were waiting at the merchandise booth! I had drawn a portrait of Graham during the last week, what's new? His people were kind enough to arrange to have a few copies signed by Graham for my brother, a friend, and I. Thank you all!
The second set started off with five more new songs: "Here For You" a simple tune (what Graham does best) about being a Grandfather, the introspective "Myself, at Last", "Watch Out for the Wind" about Michael Brown. The final song in this set was "Back Home" written about his friend the great Levon Helm after he passed away. "Dust to dust, ashes to ashes, at the speed of light time slowly passes. And at the end I guess nothing matters, so live your life before the wind, scatters you back home." Beautiful. He ended that string of new songs with a blues number called "Exit Zero".
Winding down the show Nash gave the great psychedelic introduction to one of my all time favorite tunes "Cathedral". A song about his "trip" to Stonehenge, and Winchester Cathedral. Listen to the lyrics. Then Graham told the story about a guy he was visiting in Hawaii, who bet him $500 he that couldn't write a hit song in the hour before he was to leave for the airport. After the song he said that he still has the check! As you might have guessed that song was "Just a Song Before I Go". Following that he said, "The truth is, without all the drugs, the egos, and the money, we could have made a lot more great music. So here's a song I wrote about that, called 'Wasted on the Way'."
Graham and Shane closed the evening with two of Nash's greatest and most enduring songs the amazing "Chicago". It is a biting commentary that refers to both the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, as well as the trial of the Chicago Eight, where protesters at the convention were charged with intent to incite a riot. Then, of course the show ended with the sing along "Teach Your Children". This is the song that made bring my brother Ralph because it was favorite.
I have seen 11 concerts, of variations seminal line-up CSN&Y in the last 40 years. I must say, the magic is still in those tunes, and it's best enjoyed LIVE!
Graham Nash is Now On Tour In Florida! www.grahamnash.com/tour
Tune into "On the FlipSide with me, Java John Saturdays 6-8pm on WFIT! www.wfit.org