27 April 2016
Boulder Theatre, Boulder, CO
Recent public drama surrounding Graham Nash had threatened to overshadow the fact that his recent solo album This Path Tonight debuted on Billboard higher than any solo album of his since 1974's Wild Tales.
First Neil Young, browned off by Crosby's comments about Neil's girlfriend Daryl Hannah, vowed that CSNY would never tour again; months later, Nash described Crosby as being "awful, just awful", that he didn't want to have anything to do with Crosby, and saying (to Crosby), "F#$% you, I'm done." By the way, as best as we can tell, the source of this current rift stems in part from Crosby's disagreement over history/facts documented in Nash's 2014 autobiography Wild Tales.
Nash has certainly experienced moments of substantial change before, but a seemingly permanent separation from both CSN and his wife of 38 years (Susan) has rendered his life, at age 74, with the most turmoil we've seen since his split from the Hollies and his first wife Rose some 47 years ago. Observation stated, Graham seems to take it all in stride, even embracing the change and welcoming the opportunity to grow.
Out of the discomposure, Graham and CSN guitarist Shane Fontayne composed 20 songs, recorded a new album in a mere 8 days, and booked a tour together in support of the new record, from which Graham and Shane featured four tracks, "This Path Tonight", "Myself At Last", "Back Home", and "Golden Days".
The setlist as a whole decently spanned his 5+ decade career, starting with the Hollies track "Bus Stop". In Storyteller's fashion, Graham provided hands-on perspectives on the original germination of many of his fine tracks. Prior to "Marrakesh Express", Nash told a tale of a bunch of people traveling to Marrakesh to smoke pot; Graham later described an experience of being held up at U.S. Customs as his inspiration for, later in the day, composing "Immigration Man"; "Just A Song Before I Go" resulted from dare from a colleague to the effect of "I bet you can't write a song in 20 minutes," which not only won Graham $500, but also ended up being the most successful CSN single ever.
Graham/Shane performed "I Used To Be A King" two semitones higher than the studio version. "Wind On The Water" (without "Critical Mass") and "Military Madness" ended the first set.
During the second set, the rare "House Of Broken Dreams", written originally about David Gilmour, seemed to hit home with Graham's personal life of late. Later in the set, Graham explained how a songwriter never knows when a song will come along, and told a story from 1969 about arriving home on a cold, overcast day in L.A. with his then girlfriend Joni Mitchell, saying, "Joan, how about I light a fire while you place the flowers in the vase that you bought today?"
During the encore, Graham let Shane take some brief lead vocals on "Blackbird", while Shane played a near-perfect match of Stephen Stills' guitar work on the same song. "Chicago" and "Teach Your Children" rounded out the end of a nice show.
Graham Nash was definitely on a new path tonight. Many humans respond to uncertainty with anxiety; Graham appears, almost invariably, to respond with resurgence.
[****] - Steven T.
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