GLENSIDE, PA – JUNE 2, 2018
Aside from his differences with Graham Nash and Neil Young and his disdain for President Trump and signing autographs, David Crosby is a happy man. A man content with his life, having finally found the inner peace that eluded him for many years.
“I’m a lucky son of a bitch … I was supposed to be dead 20 years ago,” Crosby chortles, from the Keswick Theater stage, where he and his band mates performed an 18-song set, featuring selections from his latest release “Sky Trails” and several Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young hits that energized a crowd of dedicated baby boomers, revisiting their ‘60s hippy heavens while singing along to the anthems of their youth.
David Crosby’s last visit to the Keswick (December 2016) featured a talented band of young musicians, grateful for the experience of touring with one of the world’s most historic rock figures. The show was a pleasant mix of Crosby acoustic standards and jazz infused originals from Crosby’s fifth solo album, Lighthouse, highlighting the skills of Michael League, the Grammy Award winning guitarist, bassist and founding member of Snarky Puppy.
Crosby, 76, is a melodious medical miracle and has experienced life as few people have. The best and worst. The harmonious and discordant, and the tempered rage of raw power and emotion that drive this tour. In other words, Crosby brought the varsity.
Shortly after 8:00 pm, Crosby, wearing a maroon knit cap and maroon shirt, took the stage, strapped on a Martin guitar and began picking the intro’ to CSN’s “In My Dreams.” Followed by “Morrison” a song co-written by Crosby and his son, James Raymond, about the enigmatic Doors’ singer, whom Crosby says he “didn’t know very well.”
After a few songs from the new album, Crosby hit a high point of the evening with a couple of CSN signature hits. “Guinevere,” and an electrified “Long Time Gone” with Crosby’s pounding rhythms and drummer Steve DiStanislao’s splashing symbols fueling Jeff Pevar’s fretboard runs.
The superb skills of music director James Raymond’s arrangements showcase the boundless creativity of his stellar band mates.
The trippy destiny of “Déjà vu” was explored in its unique ending during a series of spicey solos by Jeff Pevar (guitar), Michelle Willis (keyboards), James Raymond (keyboards), Mai Leisz (bass) and Steve DiStanislao (drums), culminating in choral harmonies reminding us that “we have all been here before.” Acknowledging the virtuosity, Crosby gestures in joy.
After a brief intermission, Crosby returns with a warning: “This band has never played this song; this could be a disaster,” he says, as he begins to play, “The Lee Shore” another CSN favorite.
Crosby introduces “Homeward Through the Haze” with a poignant story. “I was a junkie, close to dying, while living in Santa Barbara,” he recalls. With Jackson Brown’s encouragement, Crosby completed a song he was writing after being “imprisoned” in Warren Zevon’s house where he worked without distraction on “Delta.”
Keyboardist Michelle Willis’ lifted the haze with her soulful singing and emphatic expressions drawing smiles and nods of approval from her band mates, during an upbeat rendering of “Janet.”
“A Thousand Roads,” featured excellent slide guitar work by Jeff Pevar, who honed his skills while playing with luminaries such as Ray Charles, James Taylor, Jefferson Starship and CPR.
The electrics were buzzing and the house roared as Crosby struck the first chords of “Wooden Ships.” A spirited jam session toward the end was a welcomed warmup for the encore and final song of the evening.
Neil Young’s “Ohio,” commemorating the death of four students at Kent State University in 1970, had Crosby, chanting and yelling, “How many more; I wanna know why!” Raging energy and unity filled the Keswick as Crosby encouraged everyone to sing: “Four Dead in Ohio … Four Dead in Ohio….”
While introducing a song from his first solo album, If I Can Only Remember My Name
Crosby says, “I’m one of the old fashion stupid people who loves America … democracy is a good idea, [I] wish we still had one….”
“… Peace is not an awful lot to ask” Crosby sings in “What are Their Names.”
Considering the current hostilities between Crosby and his, once closest friend, Graham Nash, peace is, indeed, an awful lot to ask for. Peace requires compromise and understanding, and if two life-long friends can’t find it, it’s unlikely that 7.5 billion people, living in 195 countries will live in harmony simply by asking.
In My Dreams
Tracks in the Dust
At The Edge
What Are Their Names
Long Time Gone
The Lee Shore
Homeward Through the Haze
My Country ‘Tis of Thee