Friday, January 31, 2014

My Evening With Crosby,Stills & Nash in Bristol

Smithy came round my house at 4.00 and i had some grub scrammed up and at 4.25 a taxi arrived to take us to the station. The original plan was that Smithy would drive but he wasn't well with  a chest infection and in no state to drive. "You better not die and ruin my evening", i said as we left the house. We caught the 4.38 train from Westbury. I had a few cans of cider in a carrier bag so as soon as we were on the train i cracked a couple open  and while Smithy checked the racing results on his phone i gazed out of the train window alone with my thoughts. "Kim would have loved this," i thought to myself.,going to a Crosby,Stills & Nash gig.She saw them decades before i did and often talked about when she saw Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young at Wembley Stadium in the 70's with Joni Mitchell. As for myself i had only seen them once before at Glastonbury in 2009 but i have been a fan since the late 60's. I remember the summer of 70 when i was a student and hearing Deja Vu for the first time and later at college a friend Robin had Four Way Street the live double album and i bought Dave Crosby's solo album and Songs For Beginners by Graham Nash.
                                                Soon  we arrived in Bristol.We were a bit early so we got a taxi to the harbour and went for a bit of a stroll covering the waterfront and polishing off the last couple of cans of cider.
I got Smithy to take my photo by the harbour.
Then we had a quick pint in Wetherspoons and headed for the Colston Hall. Smithy seemed to be perking up a bit by now. It was a beautiful warm evening beneath October skies so we sat outside and i met my facebook buddy John Denley. It was really nice to meet him and his friends because we have been to lots of the same gigs but never met up before. Then one of my Bristol friends arrived, Kevin.. He had brought me a birthday present, a book called 'The Typewriter Is Holy', The Complete Uncensored History Of The Beat Generation .Also a compilation CD he had made of really rare psycedelic folk music that i'm playing right now.Thanks Kev. We sat there for about an hour drinking and chatting and then it was show time.
We took our seats in Row E right near the stage and on walked the three legends.It was great to see them this close up. Crosby looks remarkably well with his mane of long silver hair and Nash is in very good shape as well. I'm not so sure about Stills.I think he is the youngest of the three but he doesn't seem to walk that well and his speaking voice is quite croaky but boy can he play the guitar.I think his guitar playing was the highlight of the evening for me. The first song they did was Carry On from the Deja Vu album and you realise immediately that their singing voices are intact. They can still sing as well as ever.A lot of other singers of their generation are shot away vocally but CSN are perfect. They followed that with Marrakech Express their big hit single from the debut album. Then a favourite of mine Long Time Gone', this song always reminds me of the opening scenes from the film Woodstock. Crosby excelled himself on this song. Then it was Steve Stills turn to show what he could do with Southern Cross his brilliant song from the 1982 album Daylight Again. He wrote it after getting divorced and its about how music is his consolation.It was brilliant anyway. Then they introduced Crosby's son James Raymond  the keyboard player on a song called Lay Me Down.James Raymond wrote this song and it is the opening track of Crosby & Nash's double album of 2004.Very nice it is too. Then it was back to Crosby for a song called Radio,i think it was called that anyway. I'm showing my ignorance now because i didn't recognise the next one either.It was a bluesy song sung by Steve Stills. I knew the next one though when Graham Nash sat at the keyboards for Cathedral from the 1977 album CSN. The song is about an LSD experience he had in Winchester Cathedral. Then it was one of the highlights of the whole evening for me When Steve Stills performed the Buffalo Springfield song Bluebird. The song evolved into an incredible guitar solo that Jimi Hendrix would have been proud of.It  proves that Steve Stills was and is one of the great guitarists of all time. He was rewarded with a standing ovation by large sections of the audience. Then it was back to Crosby who said his job was to write the weird shit for the band and performed Deja Vu.This was brilliant and gave all the band a chance to show their skills. After the song Nash introduced the other five members of the band.I can't remember all their names but there was Tom from Lubbock Texas.Stevie D on drums,i think it was Kev McCormack on bass,shane Fontaine on guitar and James Raymond on keyboards.The next song was Love The One you're With which the whole audience sang along with. Then Nash announced that they were taking a twenty minute break.They had been playing for ninety minutes. If this was a Van Morrison show it would be over now!
 We went outside for a drink and a ciggie and i got chatting to a kid from Liverpool who is a huge CSN fan and had seen them at the Albert Hall a few nights earlier but he said tonight was better.I think its great that they have some young fans.Then it was back inside for the second half which began with the song of alliteration Helplessly Hoping from their debut album. Then Nash said "We're here.we're lets kick ass".He sang a song called that i think might be called Golden Days. It was very pleasant anyway.It was back to the genius of Stills then for Treetop Flyer from his 1991 solo album.This was received warmly by his devotees at the front and he shook hands with some of them. Then Crosby & Nash sang the unaccompanied political song What Are Their Names?.This was followed by one of my favourites Guinevere and then another great song Just A Song Before I Go.Nash wrote both those songs i believe. This was followed by another powerful political song called Burning For The Buddha which is about monks burning themselves in protest against the Chinese occupation of Tibet which gets hardly any exposure in the press.I think the tragedy of CSN if there is one is that they are still coming up with great songs but the audience just want to hear the old material. The next song was Triad which i think Crosby originally wrote for the Byrds.Its all about the joys of having two girlfriends, the greedy bugger. Then it was Our House which Nash wrote for Joni Mitchell when they were living in Laurel Canyon.The whole audience sang along with this.I did do a little bit of filming during the evening but during this song a security man told me to put my camera away. Another of Nash's most famous songs followed Teach Your Children which again got warm applause.One of my favourite Crosby songs followed which was Almost Cut My Hair.

                                                                               Sadly that proved to be the last song for us because i was getting worried that we would miss the last train.I really wanted to hear Judy Blue Eyes,Suite because that's my favourite but alas it wasn't to be. Thank you very much Crosby Stills & Nash for a wonderful evening.

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