David Crosby and Graham Nash, well-known as a couple of guys who sing and play along with Neil Young and Steven Stills, proved to a capacity crowd in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre that their abilities extend far beyond backing up two more widely popularized performers.
The concert started almost on time with Judee Sill, a newcomer to Vancouver. Her set of five original songs was well-received and her performance was not marred by the unscheduled appearance of an inebriated gentleman who joined her onstage for several minutes, and then departed at the end of the number to a round of applause.
After a short break, Crosby and Nash appeared, smiling, and launched into "Military Madness". They carried the audience with them for the rest of the evening.
What emerged during the next two hours was an evening of music with two talented performers amid a few thousand friends. With their good-humoured approach and informal style they established a rare rapport with the audience, which, during the course of the evening overflowed the seats and stretched out along the aisles.
A bit of heckling was taken in stride, and they kidded at length about American politics and the relative merits of moving to Canada.
Early in the concert, they explained that they were going to stick to acoustic equipment (except for the piano), and they promised to mix some of their older, more familiar songs with the new ones they wanted to premiere. They came through on both.
"Wooden Ships" was a different song when performed in this manner - deeper and more mellow. Throughout, they combined in harmonies (mostly the wordless humming and harmonizing which characterizes their music) on their familiar and popular songs (like "Teach Your Children, "Deja Vu", etc.).
At one point, Crosby was left alone to do some solo work. The highlight of this set was a haunting instrumental entitled "Dancer". His guitar work was excellent, putting out a powerful bass for an acoustic. He sang in his characteristic manner; his eyes closed and head tilted back.
After the wild applause had died down, he introduced a surprise guest, Joni Mitchell, who led the audience in a strictly vocal rendition of "Woodstock". After joining Crosby and Nash in "Ohio", she disappeared backstage.
Two more songs and one encore later, Crosby and Nash were also gone.
They left their audience with the conviction that they were solid solo performers, capable of holding their own outside the more familiar quartet grouping. The acoustic guitars had served to increase the bond between audience and performers. But it was David Crosby and Graham Nash, the people, who had made the difference. They came across as two close friends who had enjoyed performing their music.