Graham Nash has recorded six solo albums over the past fifty years. Many good tunes and a few minor hits came from these albums. He could have filled his set Friday night at the Old Town School of Folk Music with songs from those albums. He could have used the show to promote his latest recordings. But, early in the show, he pointed out that he would need to remove some of the old songs if he added new songs.
He looked out across the crowd and their hair of silver and blue, and he concluded what they came to hear. They came for his old hits - particularly those he recorded with some combination of Stephen Stills, Neil Young, and the recently deceased David Crosby. Nash was a founding member of three groups that involved these men: Crosby Stills & Nash, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and Crosby & Nash. The groups achieved their greatest success in the 1970s, thanks mainly to their excellent vocal harmonies. Still and Young did not appear on stage in Chicago, but guitarist Todd Caldwell and keyboardist Shane Fontayne joined Nash on stage and filled in admirably.
Nash opened with CSN's 1982 hit "Wasted on the Way." He followed this with "Bus Stop," a hit for the Hollies, another band founded by Nash.
Between songs, the singer told stories of his career: the time he entered a talent show opposite John Lennon and Paul McCartney and won (which may have been because John and Paul missed the judging, which took place after the last bus back to Liverpool); the time Joni Mitchell inspired him to write a song when she bought a vase and placed flowers in it while he lit a fire; and the time a drug dealer bet him $500 he could not write "a song before you go," which he did and titled it "Just a Song Before I Go." Graham claimed that a relative of the dealer wrote him a check for $500 and slipped it to him years later.
The stories may or may not be true, but that mattered little to the audience, which found them entertaining.
Nash paid tribute to his late friend David Crosby, singing "To the Last Whale," "Critical Mass," and "Wind on the Water" - songs that the two recorded as a duet years ago. "We all expected David to go much sooner than he did," quipped Graham.
After two sets, the band performed an encore that concluded with "Teach Your Children," which brought the crowd to its feet to sing along, providing a beautiful ending to a beautiful show.