David Crosby graced the Weinberg Center for the Arts stage Thursday night. To my knowledge, he is the third performer at the venue to have played Woodstock (Johnny Winter and Joan Baez being the others). It is incredible that Frederick has seen three musicians who appeared at the legendary festival which has its 50th anniversary next year.
Crosby and his band (Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis and Michael League – members of Snarky Puppy) started off the night with “The Us Below” from his 2016 album Lighthouse, which was in Mojo’s 50 best album that year. Crosby’s voice more than holds up and he uses the aged effect to make for delicate and emotional harmonies.
Brilliant finger picked guitar went into the second song, “Things We Do For Love”.
“That is of course breaking the rules of a concert, doing two brand new songs – oh well – you responded to them well and I love these newer songs” said Crosby.
“1974” was next and the band described the process of piecing together some of Crosby’s old song scraps from the 70s. The song is phenomenal and you can hear the potential for a CSNY b- side. One true measure of a great artist is when even his leftovers make for amazing music.
“Vagrants of Venice” leads into a bouncy vocal that shows what Crosby’s new and experienced songwriting can provide in a modern landscape. It’s one of his strongest numbers and provides seamless harmony structures. When discussing how he writes, he jokes, “Most of the time I was high”. This is one of the many times he referenced the inspiration from his “herbal muse” – “Green tea, of course” Crosby quipped.
Before playing “Laughing (If I Could Only Remember My Name)”, Crosby recalls his experiences meeting The Beatles and how he always gravitated towards George Harrison. “We went to England. It was terrifying and wonderful; we hadn’t been anywhere. We were afraid of meeting the Beatles. We had Beatles shoes, Beatles jackets, Beatles haircuts… we wanted to be the Beatles. Why, you ask? Girls. A lot of great art has been created because of girls. The tour was horrific with a terrible promoter. If I saw him tomorrow in a crosswalk, I would floor it. In the shittiest venue we played, John Lennon was talking to Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney drove me home. I was taken back by George and I gave him a Ravi Shankar record. I wrote this song about him.”
An amazing acapella start heads into the peaceful anthem “What Are Their Names?”. It was a clear favorite of mine, having amazing backing vocals and a brilliant mix of acoustic guitar, mandolin, keyboard/rhodes with dreamy harmonies. Luscious soundscapes dominated the song and the acoustic show. It sounded perfect in the Weinberg, which was filled to the brim in attendance.
Crosby was lively and delightful of a personality as ever. He often interacted and spoke with the crowd in witty humor, making the show very personal. He also proves he is an older artist that truly can still put out original music that is beautiful and fresh; never worn out.
He remembered some wild things he did when he was younger saying, “Darn kids they don’t know what it’s like to throw a tube TV out the window of a hotel.” – this was one of many Crosby one liners.
The set ended with many classics from days of old.
Crosby dedicated “Guinevere” to his wife of 41 years; featuring his inevitable singing prowess and choral like power in one room.”Carry Me” was an emotional ballad fully charged. Perhaps the most impressive of them all was “Deja Vu”, where the band jammed on the organic feel.
These classic songs truly were different and still hold that special magic they did when they came out all those years ago. Distinct memories from so many of the crowd are drawn from them.
The whole night Crosby high-fived the other band members and even exclaimed, “Hi, sweetie” before smiling kissing his guitar. He clearly hasn’t lost his young musical desire and spirit. It’s what keeps him going
Crosby stuck out his ear listening for applause before bringing the band back for an encore. The first song was Join Mitchell’s “Woodstock”, followed by a rousing standing crowd singalong to “Ohio”.
“I am the luckiest son a bitch you know; not in looks or stature though (laughs). I get to do great shit. I used to be in a band called The Byrds. Our first big check all 5 of us bought Porsches- stupid kids. ” Crosby exited the stage seeming to be genuinely grateful to the packed crowd.