Having been brought up in Manchester in the early 1960’s , I always felt an affinity with The Hollies . Although I was a huge fan of The Beatles, The Hollies were “our” band.
Graham Nash , was ,of course, one of the founders of The Hollies , with whom he enjoyed a tremendous run of hit singles from 1963 to 1968 , when he left the band to expand his musical horizons in California with David Crosby and Stephen Stills.
I have seen Graham , on a number of occasions, with David and Stephen but I have never , until this evening in Liverpool, seen him perform as a solo artist.
However, this wasn’t a solo show as Graham was accompanied by two fantastic musicians , guitarist Shane Fontayne and keyboardist Todd Caldwell , both of whom were members of CSN’s touring band.
Shane Fontayne is a superb guitarist who has played with such luminaries as Bruce Springsteen, Joe Cocker and Sting . He played in Lone Justice with Maria McKee and before that ,when he was known as Mick Barakan , he was a member of English psychedelic rock band Byzantium , a band that I booked for a university party in 1974!
Graham Nash has , he reminded us, been in music business for 55 years and thus has a vast catalogue of songs to draw on . Tonight, ably abetted by Shane and Todd, he gave us 23 wonderful songs over a 2 hour show ,which demonstrated his unique talent as a songwriter.
From The Hollies repertoire we were treated to a great version of Graham Gouldman’s “Bus Stop” from 1966.
Fans of Crosby, Stills, Nash [and Young] were well-catered for with gorgeous 3-part harmony versions of “Wasted On The Way”, “Marrakesh Express”, “Just A Song Before I Go” [written as a bet!] , “Our House” “4+20” [by Stephen Stills] and , naturally, “Teach Your Children”.
Graham Nash is noted for his political songs and he gave us heartfelt performances of “Military Madness”, “Immigration Man” and “Chicago/ We Can Change The World” , observing that , with the current incumbent of The White House , these songs are as relevant now as when he wrote them. Sadly, just as relevant is his moving plea to protect whales from hunting, the beautiful “Wind On The Water”.
Keyboard player Todd is from Lubbock,Texas , the home of Buddy Holly , and we were treated to a lovely , simple version of “Everyday”.
Graham was greatly affected by the break-up of his relationship with Joni Mitchell ,which led him to write 2 fine songs “I Used To Be A King” and “Simple Man” ,both of which he sang tonight but he was pleased to let us know that Joni, still a good friend, is recovering from her near-fatal illness.
In 2016 Graham released a fine album of new songs ,”This Path Tonight” and from it he sang the superb “Myself At Last”, “Golden Days” and “Back Home” [for his friend ,the late Levon Helm of The Band].
One big surprise was Graham and the band’s version of The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life”, which he dedicated to The Cavern Club , where, in February 1963 , The Hollies got their big break when they were spotted by Ron Richards of EMI Records who offered to record them. Needless to say , Graham’s rendition of this classic Beatles song went down rather well in Liverpool.
All in all, this was a hugely enjoyable concert by one of the greatest songwriters of the past half-century. Long may he run.
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