I saw quite a lot of CSN&Y during my spell in America, either collectively, in various combinations or as individuals. Here’s a review of a David Crosby and Graham Nash show at the Wolman Ice Skating Rink in Central Park from September 1976. This was a summer only venue that presented dozens of shows from, I think, June to September, and sponsored by Schaefer Beer. I saw loads of shows there in 74, 75 and 76, Springsteen among them. Here’s my report of the C&N show.
Neil Young and Steve Stills may have blown out their tour in a flurry of sore throats and, reportedly, short tempers, but the "other half" of CSN&Y, David Crosby and Graham Nash, continue to play, live and sing together in agreeable harmony.
The Crosby-Nash band played the first of three concerts in New York’s Central Park on Wednesday evening and offered two and a half hours of excellent music, ranging through early CSN&Y material, jointly written songs, and solo work. Much of their success could be put down to the excellent accompaniment – Danny Kortchmar (guitar), David Lindley (violin), Russ Kunkel (drums), Craig Doerge (keyboards) and Tim Drummond (bass) – but it was the personalities of the two principals that held the show together.
David Crosby, a trifle paunchy these days, is a homely Uncle Harmony with his walrus moustache and cheery grin, while Graham Nash, beardless for once, still retains a naive enthusiasm and obvious admiration for the musicians who surround him. He looks healthier, too, his spare frame having filled out some since the CSN&Y tour of 1974.
The concert lasted two and a half hours, opening with an electric set before an acoustic interlude and rocking out again at the end. Kortchmar’s playing throughout came a close second to the harmony singing, though the highlight of the show was Nash’s ‘Wind On The Water’, closely followed by a spacy ‘Déjà Vu’, and the two encores, ‘Chicago’ and ‘Teach Your Children’.
Both Crosby and Nash have allied themselves with underwater photographer and ocean wildlife campaigner Jacques Cousteau in an attempt to save whales, dolphins and other species of sea-dwellers from extinction. ‘Wind On The Water’ echoes these sentiments, and during the song a film by Cousteau was projected onto a giant screen at the left of the stage; a particularly effective setting amids the greenery of the park.
Crosby offered a brand new song, ‘King Of The Mountain’, during the acoustic set, which compared to the spicier electric songs was rather dull, and Nash, ever-cheerful and lively, seemed more at home with older pieces like ‘Our House’ and ‘Marguarita’. During Crosby’s ‘Guinevere’ the awed appreciation of the crowd was almost frightening.
A lengthy, free-form introduction heralded ‘Déjà Vu’, which afforded Kortchmar ample opportunity to shine, while Crosby followed with ‘Almost Cut My Hair’, never one of his best songs in my view. He made up for its melodic shortcomings by shouting the lyrics into the microphone so loud they could be heard in New Jersey. The message was all that mattered.
Nash encouraged all to join in on the choruses of the two encores and, unlike on Four Way Street, the audience did just that. Lindley’s violin has taken over from the slide guitar on ‘Teach Your Children’, but the song has aged well and, because of its simplicity, makes an ideal closer. A third encore was demanded but the audience were told to go home because of the strict regulations concerning shows in the park. No-one would have complained if they’d played for another hour.