David Crosby loves a lot of things, and he said so during an intimate set at Clearwater’s Capitol Theatre on November 27, 2016. First off, he adores his wife Jan Dance and shouted out to her several times during the show. He also loves the Capitol Theatre and even threatened to start camping out at the historic Clearwater venue.
“This place sounds amazing,” he said at one point of the show, “we might have to set up a residency.”
That’s obviously unlikely, but Crosby did promise to keep coming back because he’s got family here. The mustachioed, jovial songwriter also loves a home cooked meal, which he got on Sunday thanks to his daughter who cooked his band tacos and burritos before they hit the stage in front of a sold out, attentive crowd. That crowd also loves Crosby, and they showed it by remaining hushed as the 75-year-old folk icon worked through a long and winding 17-song set that both highlighted a lot of his 2016 solo LP, Lighthouse, and paid homage to the storied songbook he built with Graham Nash, Stephen Stills and Neil Young.
Crosby leaned on his romantic relationships from the jump, and opened the evening with “Things We Do For Love.” The opening track on Lighthouse kicks off the album in an airy fashion, with Crosby’s soft vocal sitting up front and center as delicate acoustic picking, soft strumming and hushed, atmospheric lead quietly sings in the background. It did the same thing in real life on Sunday, and with no drummer, Crosby and a band featuring a trio of the nation’s most gifted young songwriters leaned on each other to great effect as they gave life to cuts from Croz’s fifth solo LP since 1971.
With North Carolina songwriter Becca Stevens on guitar and Canadian composer Michelle Willis on keyboard, Crosby and guitarist/bassist Michael League (the Snarky Puppy bandleader who co-wrote much of Lighthouse) also breathed new energy into time tested tunes that soundtracked the lives of so many in attendance. Especially thrilling was a take on “Déjà Vu” that closed out the first, short set. On it, the youngsters filled in for Nash, Stills & Young. While this writer wasn’t even an idea his own parents’ heads as they smoked bowls to the sounds of CSNY’s breakthrough 1970 LP, it was still a little marvelous to see the song reconstructed live on stage.
Crosby joked often about his ego throughout the night, but the notion of him experiencing méconnaissance when he looks into the mirror is unlikely when his appreciation for League, Willis and Stevens is taken into consideration. Croz gave the stage up so Stevens could perform “Lean On” from her own catalog and even admitted to weeping when Willis sings (she proved him right on a gorgeous performance of “Persimmon” from her new album, See Us Through). League didn’t do any Snarky Puppy songs (and there’s no way he really could’ve without the members of the jazz and funk collective), but he did get to showcase “The City,” a Lighthouse highlight which he and Crosby wrote together.
Throughout the night, the great irony was the image of youth that flanked Crosby as he worked through a handful of politically charged songs born out of the struggles on the 60s and 70s. Crosby detests politicians. He didn’t rip directly into Trump during his set, but Crosby did invoke another Republican (Eisenhower) as he reiterated the 34th POTUS’ criticisms about the “military-industrial complex” before a performance of “What Are Their Names” from If I Could Only remember My Name. The jabs at power were especially poignant on Lighthouse cuts like “Somebody Other Than You” and “Look In Their Eyes” where he both bites at war-mongers and expresses concern for the refugee crisis in Syria.
As Crosby kicked into “Guinevere” to close out the night, the 47-year-old song felt almost new. The whole of the set, admittedly, never really touched anything uptempo, and some in attendance lamented the pace of the show, but Crosby’s show was anything but a crawl. In fact, it felt a little like a rebirth thanks to his new band. Crosby’s anger with the establishment is as alive as it ever was, and now — as strange times call for as many unifying voices as possible — Croz seems to have built a new collective to that’ll help him be an effective town crier for many years to come.
David Crosby & friends setlist — Capitol Theatre — November 27, 2016 (stream/download)
Things We Do For Love
The Us Below
Somebody Other Than You
Paint You A Picture
Lean On (Becca Stevens)
Orleans (Le Carillon De Vendôme)
What Are Their Names
Look In Their Eyes
Persimmon (Michelle Willis)
By the Light of Common Day