Richie Furay Delivers the Goods Live – Opinion

Demonstrating an energy level a man half his 78 years would be hard-pressed to match, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Richie Furay tore through a blistering two-hour set Friday, April 8th at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. With a setlist drawing from his days in Buffalo Springfield, Poco, and The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band plus solo work, Furay left no doubt that the oft-overlooked compatriot of Stephen Stills and Neil Young during Buffalo Springfield’s brief, turbulent tenure was, and is, a major artist in his own right.

Gram Parsons may be admired, but Furay is as committed to country-rock as any other artist. Furay has been an underrated singer, with a talent for crafting strong melodies from the heart. Furay’s only flaw is having been too nice to be a rock star, putting on no airs and presenting no image aside from who he is: an affable family man who happens to be a world-class tunesmith.

A combination of trusted side musicians and a San Diego-based top-flight band superbly supported Furay’s cause on the evening. A friend recommended the latter, who played some great harmonica songs. All elements worked well in the band. The band was unimpeachable and had strong backing vocals. Furay’s daughter Jesse Furay Lynch provided beautiful harmony and, on a couple of songs, lead vocals.

In addition to the aforementioned energy, Furay’s warm tenor showed no hint of losing its top end or timber. No lowering of song keys or mushing out tunes to reduce the strain showed itself throughout the evening’s entirety. Furay pulled off a clever trick by putting in maximum effort, while still making the show seem effortless and graceful.

Furay’s song catalog is as rich as it is lengthy. Be it “Kind Woman” from the final Buffalo Springfield album, “A Good Feelin’ to Know” from the Poco days, “Fallin’ in Love” from the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band era, or “We Were the Dreamers” from his 2015 solo album Hand in handFuray’s music is clear and melodic, with a focus on finesse rather than flash.

Furay often chatted to the crowd between songs. He discussed topics like his 55-year marriage (his wife Nancy was there) and the recent loss of Tom Stipe and Rusty Young, both of whom were part of Richie Furay Band. To honor Cotton and Young, Furay performed an achingly beautiful medley of Cotton’s “Bad Weather” and Young’s “Crazy Love.”

Furay is unafraid to express his faith — he has been an outspoken Christian since the mid-‘70s — or his love of country and unapologetic conservatism. He acknowledged the former both during in-between song conversation and with a song as Furay performed “Wake Up My Soul” from In My Father’s HouseHe was also a Christian in his efforts to create. The latter came out in “America!,” with its blunt lyrics:

America, America
God, I have received Your grace.
Get up and wake your sleeping soul
We hear the toll of the bells before we can actually see them.

My heart is broken
The world is being turned upside-down
Seeing our Nation
While you are grabbing for the handle, your feet burn to the ground
Even though history has always warned us
If you turn your back on God, it is time to look up.
There ain’t nothing to fall back on
Though some would say that’s odd

The wonder of time is all around you
Do you think there’s a point at which there is no returning?
Is that the limit?
Which lessons can we learn?
Can we still hope for the best?
Existe a greater hope than all the hope?
Yes, there’s an answer.
But we’re going down a slippery slope

While Furay has retired from major touring — after all, he is 78 — he still plays the occasional show. Should one be within walking, driving, flying, or teleporting distance, by all means, go if you can and if you can’t, go anyway. Over the years, I’ve seen many concerts. No exaggeration. Richie Furay, her cohorts and others have made my life so rich that I’ve never seen one leave one as enriched. Again, no exaggeration. Each performance and the music were outstanding. For quite some time, it will be difficult to listen to any other music.

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