The Forum, Bath
Well, what a blast! My mate and I decided to go to this when the tour dates were first announced months ago, and neither of us wanted to venture a guess as to how well the show would go. I’ve been a CSN/CSNY fan since the first album with the band on the porch at Cass’ house, and I’ve got pretty much everything they’ve ever done, together or singly, brilliant, bad or indifferent. I love their voices together more than any other band, and the back catalogue is bursting at the seams with gems. My old pal Mike is (was!) much less familiar with the canon; a battered vinyl of Four Way Street and maybe a couple of Hollies 7 inch singles. So Mike didn’t want to cast doubt over my enthusiasm, and I didn’t want to big the gig up so much that he’d maybe be disappointed.
We had front row seats in this exquisite venue, maybe 20 feet from the front of the stage, pretty much in the middle. It’s an old art-deco building which still has its original seats, beautiful wooden internal doors and so on, and is a real gem. However, the sound at the Forum can vary greatly, depending upon the ears responsible for making the adjustments on the night, but from our first glimpse of the simple on-stage set up we knew pretty well that it was going to be OK last night. We needn’t have worried – the sound was expertly done, and perfect for the material.
Graham is touring with two side-kicks. There’s the B3 genius of Todd Caldwell, long term keyboard player with CSN, and on electric geetars there’s Shane Fontayne, who has played with, well, all I’ll say is look him up, he’s got a CV better than most: Byzantium! Johnny Hallyday! Brooce! etc. etc. So that’s it, it’s just the three of them. Graham plays a seemingly endless series of mouth-wateringly fab guitars that are handed to him by his guitar tech between each song. Occasionally he sits at a Yamaha electric pianer for a couple of numbers. Graham is in fine voice still, a sprightly young 77 years old, and his band are equally musically talented and probably have a good 10 years on him.
Nash tells us yarns twixt numbers about Joni and Cros and Stills and all their canyon days and ocean sailing exploits and airport dramas and what have you. What a life he’s had.
A couple of juicy asides regarding the orange idiot, and a poke at Pfeffel too. Good man.
I won’t bother to try and explain how great the gig was, I’ll just put the set list here and you can wonder at its riches; Shane kindly handed a printed copy to me at the end of the show:
Marrakesh (wow – second number and they’ve blown this classic!)
Bus Stop (Yes! – a Hollies tune!!)
I Used To Be A King (dusty air in the auditorium)
Right Between The Eyes
Wind On The Water
Day In The Life (yes, that one. astonishingly great!)
Wasted On The Way
King Midas (In Reverse) – (another H one!!)
Love The One You’re With (doo-doo doo-doo doo-doo-doo)
Taken At All
Just A Song
Cathedral (weird out, man!)
Everyday (lovely Buddy Holly cover – one acoustic, one mic, three voices – wonderful)
Teach Your Children (by this stage the entire audience is on backing vocals)
Listen, this is a monster tour they are on, and they are likely going to be somewhere that you might be able to reach – do yourself a favour, go and see them. This was an evening to remember, three accomplished musicians playing their hearts out with a series of brilliant songs expertly rendered for our enjoyment. I won’t forget this evening’s gig, it was a real pleasure from start to finish.
Grey like Graham for the most part. Old hippies and others who wish that they lived in CA too. Misty eyed by the end, pretty much all of them. It’s not a frequent venue for me, so I’m not sure if last night’s bunch was a typical audience for the Forum, but I’d say it was pretty much who you’d expect to turn out for that particular gig.
It made me think..
God, CSN&Y are a really special lot, and how lucky we are to still be able to see and hear any of them playing now. Don’t miss them.