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Review: Gary Hodges  Photos: Jason Rosewarne


Pic: Jason Rosewarne

What a great pleasure to be able to see a living legend and one of the great songsmiths of all time. Extraordinary memories for this writer of Graham’s work with the Hollies in the sixties (those searing harmonies) and the global domination coming from his work with Crosby, Stills and Nash (and  Young). Who else apart from CSN would count Woodstock (1969) as their second live band performance.

Graham’s multi skilled band tonight comprised keyboard player Todd Caldwell, Zak Djanikian (guitar, sax and mandolin and drums) and Adam Minkoff  (bass and guitar and at times, drums). In addition, all three band members supported Graham with really accurate backup vocals and harmonies. The man himself moved between guitar and keyboards during the course of the evening.

Tonight’s set included anthemic songs from both of Graham’s iconic bands, plus material from his solo projects.

The evening opened with ‘Wasted on the Way’ before barrelling into Marrakesh Express. Graham’s succinct setting up of the context for Marrakesh (and literally all songs on the set list tonight) was really delightful. Fancy a strange train journey from Casablanca to Morocco yielding a piece of music of this quality. The Hollies knocked back Marrakesh Express because it wasn’t commercial enough.

After a short deliberation on the craziness of the world, Graham launched into ‘Military Madness’, before rocking out to ‘I Used to be King’, a song written for Joni Mitchel “after we broke up”.


A fascinating story on an encounter with a young songwriter called Graham Gouldman (10CC) set the scene for the Hollies classic ‘Bus Stop’ complete with Indian inflected mandolin lines, before moving into the CSNY classic ‘Right Between the Eyes’.

As the vibe of the concert continued to build, one of the evening’s highlights presented itself in the form of ‘Wind on the Water’, a tribute to the late great David Crosby. The stage was blacked out, an excerpt of the song was played featuring David singing, before the band were revealed featuring Graham on piano. A truly magic moment, including imitation whale sounds from guitar.

‘Immigration Man’ found Graham reflecting on an unfortunate border experience in Vancouver. Beautiful  harmonies  and band member instrument swapping were used to great effect, before the band moved on to ‘Better Days’ featuring some tasteful saxophone playing.

The first half of the set was closed out with another anthemic song in ‘Love the One You’re With’. The audience were encouraged to sing along and everyone did. Good vibrations before intermission.

The second half of the set started with ‘Simple Man’ featuring Graham performing solo on piano and harp, before moving solo (on acoustic guitar) into a beautiful  Steven Stills piece called ‘4 and 20’. Graham described the experience of hearing this piece played to him by Steven Stills in a hotel room, as one of the most emotionally transformative songs he had heard.  In the spirit of Steven Stills (and some of his relationship challenges) Graham then moved into ‘Wounded Bird’, before commencing ‘Taken at All’ (a song about getting back on the road) and ‘A Better Life’ from his latest album ‘Now’

,with the associated message of leaving the world in a better place for our children.

Graham set the scene nicely for the next offering in ‘Cathedral’. The inspiration for this piece seemed to arrive for Graham after an experiment involving hallucinogens, a trip to Stonehenge in a Rolls Royce and a visit to Winchester Cathedral.  Fascinating.   An epic performance by the band.

The classics kept rolling including ‘Just a Song  Before I Go’, The Joni Mitchell inspired ‘Our House’ and then we were at the end of a truly inspired night of quality songs and stories.

The encore continued to take the show to even greater heights with four classic songs starting with ‘Find the Cost of Freedom’ (with some really soulful down tuned acoustic guitars) and the classic sing along ‘Teach Your Children’.  A  great response here from the audience.

Two catalogue classics finished off the encore starting with ‘Chicago’. The band really worked  the dynamics of this extraordinary song delivering a memorable experience of harmonies, guitars and drums at their peak.

The Neil Young inspired ‘Ohio’ continued on from where ‘Chicago’ left off, showcasing Graham leading the band in a really tight and raunchy version of this song. The Neil Young inflected guitar playing helped create a big finish to this exceptional evening.

The Graham Nash experience continues to travel along navigating musical anthemic twists and turns, drawing from a catalogue that is clearly one of the best in the business.

 Again, great songs and great stories from a legend.

Graham Nash will be appearing next at the Port Fairy Folk Festival.

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