October 14, 2016 Graham Nash Sells Out Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Westhampton Beach, NY 10-7-16
Graham Nash, a two-time Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductee, has been part of the music scene since the early 1960s when he co-founded one of the UK’s most successful bands, The Hollies. Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame for his solo work, as well as his work with Crosby, Stills & Nash, Nash has even won a Grammy Award. His accomplishments go beyond the world of music though, in fact, Queen Elizabeth had appointed him an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contributions as a philanthropist and a musician. In 2013, he released his autobiography, Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life, which has been listed as a New York Times Best Seller. Last, but not least, he is also an internationally renowned photographer.
With quite a diverse resume, as a solo artist, Nash has released six albums, his most recent being 2016’s This Path Tonight. Written by himself and musical partner, Shane Fontayne, Fontayne is quite accomplished himself, sharing the stage and the studio with an impressive list of artists, including Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Paul Simon, Shania Twain, and Rod Stewart, just to name a few. Even months since the release of This Path Tonight, Nash continues to tour in its support to delight of fans, and on Friday, October 7th, one of the final nights of the tour, Nash paid a visit to the historic Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. Nestled in the quaint town of Westhampton Beach, New York, it was a clear, crisp, early autumn evening that brought in a sold out crowd of long-time fans. As the seats filled to their capacity, the stage was set under dim, yet colorful lighting, a plush rug on the floor, beads hanging from the keyboard, and well over a dozen lit candles helping to set the mood.
Without an opening act, Nash walked out on stage, comfortably dressed in simple black jeans, a black dress shirt, and bare feet, with a big smile on his face as he waved to the audience. Next, song-writing partner Fontayne came out smiling as well as they began the night with The Hollies’ 1966 hit “Bus Stop.” Nash introduced Fontayne and said, “What a beautiful theater this is,” before going into the 1969 Crosby, Stills & Nash classic, “Marrakesh Express.” Then they played “I Used to Be a King” from Nash’s first solo album, 1971’s Songs For Beginners, before another hit, 1972’s Graham Nash David Crosby track “Immigration Man.” Having a wonderful time performing, Nash complimented Fontayne by saying, “You see why I love playing with this guy!” and the audience cheered, showing how much they were enjoying it themselves as well.
Playing on with Songs For Beginners’ “Sleep Song,” before continuing, Nash stated, “Several months ago I put out a new solo record, This Path Tonight. The songs were all written by Shane and myself. I’m going to play this song for the love of my life, Amy Grantham.” With that, they went into the meaningful “Myself at Last.” Upon the songs conclusion, Nash removed his guitar, went over to sit down at the keyboards, and, after taking a deep breath ,he expressed, “Music … Wow.” With that sentiment, the stage lights went dark and just two spotlights showed down on Nash and Fontayne as they began the song “Wind on the Water,” from Crosby & Nash’s 1975 album of the same name. Stepping away from the keyboard once the song was done, Nash waved and bowed ever so slightly, in appreciation of all the applause. From there, the show went on with another Crosby, Stills & Nash song, this time from 1982’s Daylight Again, “Wasted on the Way.”
Keeping the night moving along, they did two more songs from Songs For Beginners, the first one was “Military Madness.” Before playing the next one, Nash sat down at the keyboard again and said, “This song … yes this song. I wrote it the morning that Joni (Mitchell) and I broke up.” He was quiet for a moment, as if to gather his feelings, then they performed “Simple Man.” Quite an emotional moment, Nash soon brought the audience back a little further in time with another from 1969’s Crosby, Stills & Nash, “Lady of the Island.”
Flashing forward, the two musicians performed a four-song suite off his latest release. Here, Nash spoke about how he shared his time on the tour bus with Fontayne and how they came to write, then record, all the songs on the new album. That said, they treated fans to the title song, then “Golden Days,” where Nash sang at the microphone minus his guitar, while Fontayne did all the fine guitar playing, at one point giving way to Nash doing a sweet harmonica solo mid song. From here, Nash continued to connect with the audience, talking about back-story to “Mississippi Burning,” and lastly, they played the beautiful song “Back Home,” which was dedicated to their dear friend, the late, great Levon Helm.
Going back and forward through the past and present, it was time to take everyone back in time again, but before doing so, Nash needed to explain one of the song. Doing so, he stated, “This song means more when you know what it is about.” He was talking about “Cathedral,” a Crosby, Stills & Nash song from 1977’s CSN. He discussed a day he had all to himself, when he rented a Rolls-Royce with a driver, stopped off at his dealer’s house to pick up some acid, clarifying, “Now remember, this was long ago” saying they made a visit to Stonehenge, then Winchester Cathedral. While at the cathedral, he found himself standing on one of the graves, to which he confessed, “I felt a strange feeling in my legs, I had taken acid before so I knew how that felt, this was different.” As he looked down, he was standing on the grave of a soldier who died in 1799, on Nash’s birthday. And with that story, the song did take on more feeling as they went on to perform it.
Before continuing, Nash asked the audience to, “Please show your appreciation and warmth to Shane,” as he gestured to him and slightly bowed; the crowd clapped and cheered. Nash then shared with them, “You never know when a song will come to you. You can sit down everyday at 10 o’clock and nothing will come to your mind. Sometimes songs just happen.” He was referring to the song he had written that was recorded on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s 1970 Déjà vu, “Our House.” Asking the audience to help him sing this song, they gladly obliged, and at times Nash would let them sing alone as he smiled at them.
Removing themselves from their instruments, Nash and Fontayne joined together in the middle of the stage, the crowd stood, screaming and cheering for them as Nash said, “Goodnight everybody.” As the fans cheered louder, Nash said, “Thank you everybody, it’s a hell of a way to make a living! Thank you!” Appreciative of the crowd reaction, they returned to their instruments as Nash talked about how the next song, another from his debut solo album Songs For Beginners, came to be; it was fan-favorite, “Chicago.” Once the song was over, Nash said, “Thank you, thank you everybody! It was a pleasure to make music for you tonight.” They left the stage, but not for long, as the fans were screaming and cheering for them to return. Coming back out, Nash stated, “The last time we played this song for you here it went over well,” and Fontayne joined Nash at his microphone for them to sing in harmony to The Beatles’ song, “Blackbird.” Going over well again, the final song they played was the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young sing-along classic, “Teach Your Children.” With such an exhilarating song to end the night, Nash thanked his fans one last time before departing from the stage with grace.
To put it simply, the evening’s performance was simply mesmerizing. The time on the road that Nash and Fontayne have shared during this tour was evident as they seamlessly played with one another with flawless chemistry. The way Nash tells the backstory of nearly every song they played complemented the songs themselves, giving so much more meaning and depth. Even though this tour has come to an end, fans can rest assured that Nash will be performing live again soon as the next tour is set to begin in March of 2017.