By Lauren Patterson, Contributor
[Photo by Lauren Patterson]
The scene is set, lit with candles and garnished by a multicolored oriental rug. Instruments are propped on stands that surround the stage, welcoming concert-goers as they enter the auditorium. Graham Nash, best known for his work with the legendary band Crosby, Stills & Nash, takes the stage for An Intimate Evening of Songs and Stories with Graham Nash, his first tour since 2017.
Nash brought the show to Athens, Ohio, right to Ohio University’s Memorial Auditorium. A familiar delicate guitar jangle of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Wasted on the Way” began the set and filled the space as the now 77-year-old Nash sang like not a year had passed since its release in 1982. Throughout the evening, his vocals were extremely impressive, only once stopping the two-and-a-half-hour set for a 20-minute break. Joining Nash on the stage is guitarist Shane Fontayne and keyboardist Todd Caldwell. Nash showcased his own well-known musical capability, incorporating the harmonica, piano and guitar into his playing.
Also included in the set were hits from his days in The Hollies, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and his own notable solo work. Sharing that he enjoys playing songs that aren’t expected, he even included covers of Buddy Holly’s “Everyday” and The Beatles’, “A Day in the Life”.
An Intimate Evening of Songs and Stories was nothing short of intimate. Nash shared backstories of almost every song, including the acid-induced writing of “Cathedral”, the heart-touching memories associated with his past lover Joni Mitchell in crafting “Our House” and even on writing “Simple Man” the day of their breakup.
“The only problem with wearing your heart on your sleeve is that it gets dusty,” Nash laughs as he is handed his acoustic guitar. The crowd was relaxed and laid-back yet interactive in responses to shared stories and singing along to familiar tunes. Nash saluted former bandmates’ lyrical work in performing Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Love the One You’re With”, pulling back from the microphone and allowing the crowd’s singing to overpower the chorus.
Though much of the night provided melancholic nostalgia for both Nash and those of us there, the singer incorporated many elements of comic relief by laughing at his previous state of sad songwriting and sharing the utter chaos behind the writing of “Marrakesh Express”. Telling the story behind “Marrakesh Express,” Nash remarked that the third class upon the train was a party so insane that it was almost as if Snoop Dogg was there.
The entirety of the evening was a perfect representation of not fixing something that isn’t broken. Nash illuminated the same performing passion that he always has, not at all straying from his own immensely talented roots. Closing the show with the final song in the encore, Nash performed perhaps one of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s most notable tracks, “Teach Your Children”. Not a fan remained silent; each of the attendees sang along to the classic youthful melody. That excellent, feel-good ending to the show left the crowd humming along to the tune while exiting the auditorium. With a music career that started in the early 1960s, any doubt of the talent that Nash possesses is disputed with the very fact that nearly 60 years later, he is still able to put on one hell of a show through songs fated to last an eternity.
Catch Graham Nash on his remaining tour dates here.