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Happy Birthday today to Joni Mitchell who turns 80 today. Rachel Johnson reviews Joni's fellow star, Graham Nash​

Blog | By Rachel Johnson | Nov 06, 2023

Don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone: Graham Nash still adores Joni Mitchell

‘Hello, Basingstoke!’ said Graham Nash, in tidy jeans and a dark, button-down shirt he told us had been emergency M&S buys after an airline lost his bag

in Germany. This was never going to be a wildwater

ride, but I was here for the warm walk-in bath, to wallow in the sweetest songs in the Seventies canon from one member of the first folk supergroup that wrote them.

And Nash – once of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – is, as Elton would say, still standing. ‘Have you brought a love of music with you,’ he asked in front of his Turkish-carpeted set, all wood and kilims and strewn with guitars.

The show kicked off at 7.30pm sharp and had a 20-minute interval, which Nash admitted allowed him to have a pee and a breather (he is 81). When he came back after the break, he charmingly thanked us for not leaving.

If his voice on its own doesn’t – how could it – have the plangent rich blend of CSNY in its harmonied heyday, Nash’s determination to keep the flame alive

is brave and touching. He gave us the greatest hits and their genesis – Love the One You’re With, Marrakesh Express, Our House – and sang A Case of You in tribute to his ex, Joni Mitchell.

In fact it should be said that Nash had a very bad case of mentionitis when it came to one Miss Joan Mitchell. Almost every song had a Joni connection.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart was, we were told, written by Neil Young for Graham when he was going through a rough patch with Joni.

This was also his first tour since the death of David Crosby. ‘Cros and I talked about death a lot and the truth is we expected him to go ages ago,’ he said. ‘I choose to remember the good times and the music we made together. I will think of David Crosby every day of my life till the end of my life.’

This was the Graham Nash show. It was about his love of music as well as our love of his music. He did covers of Joni, the Beatles, Buddy Holly (pre CSNY, of course, Blackpool-born Nash was a founder member of the Hollies).

I could have survived without some of his new works – A Better Life, a new track, tried and failed to match the pedagogical Desert Island Discs perennial, Teach Your Children – but basically, he came across as a decent, talented bloke.

In the end, I thought – as he closed out the show to a standing ovation and ‘Goodnight, Basingstoke!’ – is that what survives of us is love, yes, yes.

But what survives of rock dinosaurs is even more – it’s their songs.