Review: Graham Nash Live in Toronto
Last night the legendary Graham Nash took to Toronto's Queen Elizabeth Theatre for an intimate evening of songs and stories with some of his biggest fans. With an impressive career spanning almost 60 years, Nash took the opportunity to reminisce on his musical voyage performing songs from The Hollies, CSN, CSNY, as well as his solo works. With only two other musicians on stage, the band kept things simple keeping to only guitars and keys. Touring with him was former CSN keyboardist Todd Caldwell and Shayne Fontayne. You may recognize Fontayne from tours with Bruce Springsteen, Sting, and as the guitarist from the greatest Led Zeppelin tribute of all time, during the 2012 Kennedy Center Honours featuring Heart and Jason Bonham.
The evening began with two CSN hits, Pre-Road Downs and Wasted on the Way. Nash then took a brief moment to explain his musical beginnings about starting The Hollies back in England, with his best friend Allan Clarke. The band broke into Bus Stop and continued the first half of the show with more Nash solo songs, and many Crosby & Nash tunes.
Before a brief intermission Nash told a story about an open mic night he attended in 1959. They competed against a band called Johnny and the Moondogs who (to Nash's account) probably should have won the contest that evening. However, the band had to leave early and catch the last bus back to Liverpool, leaving Nash and Clarke as winners. Even though both Graham Nash and Allan Clarke would go on to have very successful careers, Johnny and the Moondogs would go on to become the biggest band of all time.... just under a different name! To conclude the first half, the trio played The Beatles A Day In The Life. It was a perfectly powerful rendition of the famous Sgt. Pepper's track and was impressively done with only three musicians on stage.
The latter half of the show saw many songs dedicated to Canada's own Joni Mitchell. Nash and Mitchell were formerly involved romantically, and many of his best love songs can be attributed to his time with her. Nash took the opportunity to give a positive health update on Mitchell, who unfortunately suffered a brain aneurysm in 2015. According to Nash, "The world better watch out because Joni is coming back!" and is apparently doing wonderful in her recovery.
Part two of the evening showcased hits like, Marrakesh Express, Our House and the Stephen Stills classic Love The One You're With. The encore saw Nash giving tribute to Buddy Holly with a cover of Everyday, and giving another rounds of thanks to the Toronto crowd. Before the final song Nash gave some words of wisdom to his primarily senior audience, expressing how today's youth might be the world's saving grace. Giving praise to activists like the Parkland Shooting survivors and Greta Thunberg, he ended the evening with a warning that, "maybe these children might have something to teach us", and continued straight into his CSNY hit Teach Your Children.
The show told a spectacular story about one of the world's greatest musicians and the amazing bands he'd been lucky to take part in. With his two backing musicians Graham Nash sounded better than ever and continues to showcase his impressive ability to harmonize, and hit the high notes. Any lover of music history would appreciate this show as it highlights some of the most important musical moments in folk-rock history.