Sunday 9 October 2011

Happy Night For Hippies

Crosby & Nash in concert
Royal Albert Hall, London
8th October 2011

David Crosby and Graham Nash held 'another stoney evening' at the Royal Albert Hall last night and this was yet another evening to cherish. A sold out audience gave them a very warm welcome and then settled down for a concert to savour. It's true to say that most of the audience were of a 'certain age' but they knew good music when they heard it and were certainly about to enjoy every moment of a wonderful evening.

I last saw this duo in concert as part of the Crosby, Stills & Nash tour last year and whilst CSN have a distinctive vocal sound there is something unique about the relationship between Crosby & Nash that is very special. It's obvious that they have a very close bond, both as friends and also as musicians. They have a relaxed and endearing on stage presence and are clearly at ease in each other other's company. The pair have a strong common political sense particularly when addressing environmental issues and this becomes most obvious when listening to some of their material, yet they are also able to inject moments of great humour into their concerts. Crosby with his wicked, childlike humour and Nash, as always, wearing his heart on his sleeve. Crosby's powerful and gritty vocals blend and harmonise perfectly with Nash's sweet, pure vocal tones.

The evening opened with a Byrds classic, Eight Miles High followed by the Nash composed I Used To Be A King. The moody Long Time Gone and colourful Marrakesh Express were next and memories of the Woodstock era came flooding back. Crosby performed a new composition called A Slice Of Time and we heard the Graham Nash penned Just A Song Before I Go which is about leaving loved ones behind before going on a concert tour. It was written in Hawaii in about 20 minutes at the piano while Nash was staying with a friend, waiting for the rain to stop before leaving the house. The opening line came from the question "You've got half an hour, why don't you just write a song before you go?" and this was the result. We also heard Don't Dig Here, a song about the disposal of nuclear waste and how we should all be concerned (it's going to take about 30,000 years to get rid of it all apparently). The beautiful Wind On The Water followed which is about the plight of the whale and the first set ended with the rousing and absolutely brilliant Almost Cut My Hair which showed Crosby at his raging and ranting best.

The second set opened with a real treat and delightful surprise as Graham Nash invited former Hollies front man Allan Clarke to join him on stage to sing the classic Hollies song Bus Stop. This was brilliant and totally unexpected, a real spine tingling moment for us all. The gorgeous Our House and hauntingly beautiful Guinnevere were next up and I was up on my feet at the end of those two. We heard a perfect mix of Crosby's Orleans and Nash's Cathedral. Then Crosby got into his wonderful weird stuff once again with Deja Vu as the second half of the concert drew to a close with Military Madness, a song Nash wrote 46 years ago but is still as relevant today as it ever was, and finally ended with Wooden Ships, the highlight of the evening for me. The encore was Chicago and Teach Your Children which inevitably had everyone in the audience singing along for the finale.

It was a fantastic evening in the presence of two people who have won the respect and admiration of their peers and everyone in this audience for their groundbreaking music and their personal commitment and dedication to the environment and world peace - long may it continue, we need people like this to remind us of what really matters in this life. They may be old hippies, but hey, I still love them. Two hours and thirty minutes of amazing live music. Wonderful!

A full set list of the concert can be found here.