Somewhere in America, David Crosby has something important to say, and you need to hear it. He’s singing his heart out, joking with his audience, and playing as proficiently as ever, time has not caught up to him. Last night at The Saban Theater, one of Los Angeles’ most intimate venues, David Crosby put on one hell of a show. With about as much fanfare as someone walking up to a fast food counter, Crosby took to the stage last night, with a simple, “Hi there”. No pretense, no musical trickery, just that old, familiar area rug that he’s been hauling around with him for years. I guess it brings a sense of home to him, while he’s on the road.
If you saw “Remember My Name”, the documentary on Crosby, you know how much he hates being on the road, and does whatever he can to bring a piece of home with him. Like his embroidered skull-cap that’s become something of a trademark. “My wife made this for me”, he announced to the audience prior to singing a note, and even with those six words, you could feel the love that he sings of, speaks of, and exudes.
David Crosby is a man who loves, and loves deeply. You can see it in his eyes when he speaks, whether in person or on-stage. When you are lucky enough to see him in such an intimate setting, you feel it. Unencumbered with the “other guys”, he has a lot more freedom to say what he thinks, and everyone knows he has no filter, and that’s a great thing. He says what’s on his mind and doesn’t gloss anything over. “I just wanted to let you know that everybody in this band makes records. You remember records, right? Well, we’re selling them right out there.” he instructs, gesturing to the lobby. “If you buy them here, we actually get all the money!” David has had his fill of not getting paid by music streaming services, and there’s no love lost there; “How would you feel if you played for days and days, and at the end someone gave you a nickel?”
There were quite a few Crosby, Stills & Nash or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young songs in the set list last night, and do you know what was missing? Nothing. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the aforementioned combos, it’s just that after he hit the first note of “In My Dreams”, a Crosby-penned CSN song, you knew immediately that David, with this band, has managed to recreate those beautiful harmonies that you come to expect, but might have thought that without the “other guys” wouldn’t be present. Actually, there was one thing missing last night, the loudness of an audience that can outnumber a small town. With wonderful acoustics that you can only get in a theater like The Saban, you could hear every note, and the spaces between the notes. You could clearly hear a hand sliding up the neck of the guitar, or the way he made those beautiful sounds on his acoustic guitar. The notes floated out into the audience with clarity and soul. The band was sharp and tight, and there was a percussive tinge to some songs that could be felt even at the back of the room. Crosby isn’t trying to recreate or reimagine anything from his past, but he sure does justice to it, he knocks the dust off of it.
There were a trio of CPR songs (Crosby, Pevar, and Raymond) in the set. Crosby’s son James Raymond is the “R” in CPR. We even got a Byrds song, “Eight Miles High”, which Crosby introduced as “Some crappy old song”. Before launching into the classic “Guinnevere”, we were told, “The next song is a song that I’ve played thousands of times, and have never played it the same twice. It’s not because I’m a jazz genius, it’s because I’m old and just can’t remember how I played it the previous time. Jazz is what happens when you don’t have a plan! Oh, and I want to dedicate this to my wife.” During “Long Time Gone”, he made it abundantly clear that while time may have taken a toll on him physically, it has not taken a toll on his vocals. He still hits all the high notes that make for all those beautiful harmonies, but even more impressive is that trademark growl when he belts out, “Speak out, you got to speak out against the madness”. A poignant lyric that is as meaningful now as it was when he wrote it back in 1969.
I was lucky enough to meet David a short while ago and interview him (David Crosby Interview), and that wit, sarcasm, and wisdom that was present in-person, is there on stage. Some might think that at seventy-five, he would be diminished, even a tiny bit, but he’s not, and why should he be? I’ve seen many of his peers lately, and they also aren’t diminished by age. In David Crosby’s case, he wears it like a medal of valor, even though he thinks of himself as “fucking old.” Old or not, he managed to pack The Saban last night, there wasn’t an empty seat in the house.
The set list:
- In My Dreams (Crosby, Stills & Nash song)
- Morrison (CPR song)
- Eight Miles High (The Byrds song)
- At The Edge (CPR song)
- I think I (Crosby song)
- Guinnevere (Crosby, Stills & Nash song)
- Long Time Gone (Crosby, Stills & Nash song)
- Deja Vu (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song)
- The Leeshore (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song)
- Breathless (CPR song)
- Thousand Roads (Crosby song)
- Delta (Crosby, Stills & Nash song)
- What Are Their Names (Crosby song)
- Wooden Ships (Crosby, Stills & Nash song)
- Ohio (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song)
There are sadly just four more dates remaining on his tour, but if you’re lucky enough to be in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Aspen, or Denver, then I would snap up whatever remaining tickets there are. For information, please visit www.davidcrosby.com/pages/tour