Just a few weeks after his last appearance in London at The Scala, Israel Nash hit the capital again with his band, this time in Hackney in the even more intimate surroundings of Oslo – a music venue above a bar/eatery. Hitting the stage at about 8:30, Israel Nash was clearly happy to be back in the UK, starting proceedings with the upbeat ‘Lucky Ones‘ off the most recent album ‘Lifted‘. It was the first of several tracks off that album, although there was a good balance with material from earlier albums.Israel Nash has a tight band behind him, with Eric Swanson adding wonderful depth to the songs on pedal steel or keyboards, whilst the bass is held right down by Aaron McClellan whilst Josh Fleischmann added sensitive drumming across the board. Mid-set bass and drums took a short break whilst Nash switched to acoustic guitar and harmonica, and he and Eric Swanson produced an incredible pairing of ‘Baltimore‘ and ‘Goodbye Ghost‘ which were just more emotional through being stripped right back to a couple of instruments and Nash’s hard-hitting vocal.
Shortly after the band returned to full size there was another fantastic pairing of, arguably, Israel Nash’s two finest songs – the whoozily wasted ‘LA Lately‘ which, in it Laurel Canyon perfection, conjures up images of a blasted Armageddon landscape, and the sublime ‘Rain Plans‘ which digs from deep pulsing bass notes to hit glistening high notes and beautiful waves of easy rolling pedal steel. The set closed with ‘Through The Door‘ – Israel Nash often draws comparisons to Neil Young, and this is one significant reason why – it’s like a warm all rock band escapee from ‘Harvest‘ with the simple message “Bring your loving through the door / I could use a little more“. Well, couldn’t we all ?
Leading off the encore was the evening’s cover song – Radiohead’s ‘No Surprises‘, which featured Joanna Serrat, who is the opening act on his tour, adding additional vocals. A somewhat unexpected choice, but it worked. The closer was the deep groove of ‘Rolling On‘, which drifts on a whole higher level and has the wholly appropriate end of the evening sentiment “I had better keep rolling on.” A glorious night that just begs, once more, the question “why isn’t Israel Nash playing bigger venues?“. Until he does, though, there remains the chance not to be missed to see one of the finest psychedelic tinged rock bands in tiny venues.
Catching Israel for a few brief words after the gig he confirmed that he was “psyched to be playing” the Americana Music Association UK Awards ceremony on the 31st of January, round the corner at the Hackney Empire. What had him most excited was the chance to meet Graham Nash, even with the potential for backstage confusion if someone shouts out “Hey, Nash!“. But – hey, what a thought, Graham Nash pulling out his most powerful songs – ‘Immigration Man‘ perhaps – and being backed by Israel Nash and his band. That would be truly something.
Woman at the Well
Through the Door