I’m going to break with tradition by starting with an account of the evening. We witnessed an astonishing show by David Crosby and Graham Nash at the legendary Warfield Theater on Market Street. My already sore throat took a fearful battering at 11pm belting out the encore numbers Teach You Children and Chicago from their Crosby, Still, Nash and Young (CSNY) days.
How those guys, who are ten years older than me, must feel this morning after some serious hard rocking for almost three hours does not bear thinking about. It helps to have a hot band, of course, which included not only Crosby’s multi-talented son but also the former bass player for Jackson Browne and erstwhile lead guitarist for Steely Dan.
The two sets encompassed the whole career of both performers, getting off to a steaming start with The Byrds’ Eight Miles High, introduced by Nash as “this one’s for San Francisco” – hmm, I wonder why! This was followed by Long Time Gone and Marrakesh Express. Given his serious health problems over the years Crosby’s voice is still a remarkably powerful and expressive one, most evident on Almost Cut My Hair, Camera and Wooden Ships. Nash led on a number of other songs that he had penned such as I Used to be a King and Military Madness and the singalong Our House. Their harmonies on Guinevere and more recent songs such as Don’t Dig Here and Lay Me Down were as good as ever.
We could not have had better seats – although we were in the back row in the stalls we were raised above everyone else so had an uninterrupted view of the stage. Apart from the bovine perfume of the mens’ restroom (at least I think it was the smell of the cow), the Warfield is an incredibly evocative venue. There are numerous bars and cheap food is available (Janet and I had a large plate of nachos with sour cream, cheese and guacamole for just $6, although between us we succeeded in spraying my brand new trousers at least twice with the over-full paper plate it was precariously balanced on.
The only drawback was the two middle aged women, both recently made single (I can hardly think why) sat next to us who persisted in a-whoopin’ and a-hollerin’ throughout the show as if they were groupies from the early seventies when Crosby and Nash first performed together. The one next to Janet kept leaning across her to grab my arm as if there was some secret code between us about certain songs. When I asked her if she knew for whom Graham Nash had written I Used to be a King about, she nodded at me maniacally several times before reverting to a single sad shake of her head to denote she really had no idea (it was Joni Mitchell by the way).
A great concert in a historic, characterful venue but we nearly didn’t make it. I had bought the tickets through Ticketmaster on the internet which meant we had to collect them at the box office before the show started. We left our apartment at 6.15pm in the expectation that we would get to the theater by 7.00pm. Twenty five minutes later we were still waiting for the bus whilst five had gone in the other direction. We resolved, therefore, to hail the first available cab that passed.
On getting into the cab I asked for the Warfield Theater. The taxi driver, who was admittedly very pleasant, asked if there was an event there tonight and what time we needed to be there. After I had explained this he suddenly asked ” Warfield – is that on Van Ness or Sutter”? “Market” I replied. If this were not bad enough he then threw us around in the back of the cab as he mounted the kerb on a right turn, and then spent the remainder of the journey sneezing violently, further causing the cab to lurch in every direction. Although there was an argument that HE should have paid US for the fare I was so relieved to have arrived at the Warfield alive that I tipped him even better than I usually do.
In the morning we had driven over the Bay Bridge to the former naval base at Treasure Island. We had only been there once before on our first visit in 1995 and that was at night to take photos of the stunning view back towards the city and the bridge. To be frank, whilst we wandered around for an hour or so, we didn’t find much of interest (we did not visit the winery that has been established there). It did, however, give us the opportunity to see the new east span of the bridge close up.
One restaurant that we had been planning to visit in San Francisco but never managed it is Green’s at Fort Mason, one of the most celebrated vegetarian eateries in the U.S. It is ironic that we should finally visit it after we have, following more than twenty years as vegetarians, recently resolved to eat seafood and chicken. Unfortunately, we picked the day when they were not serving lunch. However, the takeaway (“to go”) counter was open, and we were allowed to sit in the restaurant to eat our sandwiches and salads, affording us fantastic views across the Marina to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Prior to returning to “our house” to prepare for our evening out we strolled along the Marina, even on a Monday afternoon a hive of activity with joggers, cyclists (many of whom were en route to “biking the bridge”) and assorted ball games, the most intriguing of which was what appeared to be a mini Spring Training baseball camp for teenage boys, involving separate hitting, catching and pitching practice sessions.
We took the plunge (but only after the seemingly perilous climb!) of driving on Fillmore as a short cut back to the apartment. After a glass of wine at a local cafe on Baker and Fulton we began our preparations for our eventful evening.
Which brings us back to where we began.