When a concert starts off eight miles high, only the truly great can keep it there. That's what David Crosby & Graham Nash did the other night in Newark, Ohio. The wind beneath their wings was an outstanding foursome of virtuoso musicians.
The result was a three-hour love fest that should not be missed.
Crosby/Nash are transcendently talented buddies who come with a set list nicely balanced between the old, the mellow, the rockin', the oddball and the new.
They combine a pleasant stream of bullshit-free banter with a virtuoso professionalism that speaks of comfort and grace.
The evening standards were in abundance, ranging from "Marrakesh" and "Déjà vu" to "Guinevere," "Our House" and "Wooden Ships." All came with power and a fresh angle.
What got the show to a new level was the truly terrifying team including James Raymond on keyboards, Dean Parks on guitar, Kevin McCormick on bass and Steve DiStanislao on drums. Each brought a monster game to a seamless ride through a whole generation's comfort zone.
Along the way both Graham and David took some welcome shots at the powers that be. General Electric's lack of tax bill was enshrined in the edgy "They Want It All," a sharp, well-reasoned attack on corporate power. "Don't Dig Here" spoke to the insanity of creating nuclear waste that can kill forever. "Military Madness" gave the brass a kick in the ass.
Some don't like politics mixed with their music. But these guys have paid their dues and know whereof they speak. By way of disclosure, I've worked with Graham since 1978 in the "No Nukes" campaign to prevent nightmares like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and now Fukushima. He is savvy, knowledgeable and dedicated.
Most recently we've conspired with Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne to help stop billions of dollars in federal loan guarantees for new nuclear plants. The fight continues, partly through the www.nukefree.org website, where you can help tip the balance in a fate-of-the-Earth campaign against $36 billion in radioactive handouts. See us now and call/write your Senators & Reps early and often!!!
I met David just the other day in Boulder. For a guy who's traveled a road that rocky, he seems fit, focused, and possessed of an acerbic wit always set to fire a few zingers at himself and his buddy.
For me, Graham's "Cathedral" dates to a tour with Jackson Browne in 1978, aiming to shut down California's Diablo Canyon nukes, which sit -- Fukushima-style -- in an earthquake/tsunami zone.
"How many people have died in the name of Christ?" he asked back then. This time, in central Ohio, after a few searing shots at organized religion, the band -- especially DeStanislao on drums -- brought the piece an edgy resonance, rich and deep.
Then came the unlikeliest candidate: "Almost Cut My Hair." When they cranked that one up toward curtain time, I thought "OK, guys, what the hell are you going to do with THIS one?" Let my freak flag fly? In the Age of Obama?
But there was method to the madness. Once they chuckled through the sixties stuff, the six of them just cut loose on as good a long free-form rock riff as I've heard in years. THANK YOU for that one.
A transcendent trip on "Wooden Ships" and a sweet "Teach Your Children" sing-along for an audience filled with parents and grandparents was then the perfect way to send us all home.
This memorable show is a tribute to some warm, wonderfully talented electric poets and troubadours who clearly treasure the magic they've been spreading for more than four decades. That somehow it keeps getting better is reason for great celebration and heart.
Harvey Wasserman edits the www.nukefree.org website and is author of SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH. With Nash and many others he helped organized the legendary 1979 MUSE/No Nukes Concerts in Madison Square Garden. In 1994 he followed CSN to speak to some 350,000 semi-conscious rock fans at Woodstock 2.