David Crosby – Back in Los Angeles After All Those Years Ago

Mai Leisz, David Crosby, Jeff Pevar

It was a full circle: fifty five improbable years ago David Crosby made his mark as The Byrds exploded out of the LA music scene. Last night a few blocks south at Saban Theatre he provided a stunning look back. He tapped into all phases of his career, and somehow he has lost little of his musical prowess.
“Eight Miles High” was introduced as “a crappy old song.” Even without McGuinn’s chiming Rickenbacker, the song remains stellar.
Crosby emphasized in so many words that he was now with the best: the best drummer (Steve DiStanislao), the best songwriting partner (his son, producer and keyboardist James Raymond). Of course, Crosby played for years with two of the foundations of rock guitar (Stephen Stills and Neil Young), but his axe slinger for the last few decades Jeff Pevar is remarkable. Mai Leisz is a stunning bassist, and Michelle Willis supplies excellent additional keyboards and vocals.
Certainly Nash’s harmonies were initially glaringly absent from “Guinevere,” but it was quickly evident that Croz’s current band was supple enough to deliver the 50 year old gem brilliantly.
Similarly, “Long Time Gone” rocked as solidly as first heard live by most folks on Four Way Street (and for me memorably live in 1974).
Crosby eschewed the de rigeur early start for aging rockers, taking the stage at the advertised 9pm and took a break 75 minutes later (“I encourage you all to go out and smoke a joint”).
“Breathless” from his CPR days was slightly rearranged. “Deja Vu” was extended, allowing each band member a solo turn in the spotlight. “Wooden Ships” swirled wonderfully.
Toward the end of the night he was choked up telling how in the depths of his junkie days Jackson Browne was there to encourage him to finish a song, and drove him over to Warren Zevon’s house when Crosby tried the excuse of having no piano. The resulting song showed Crosby that maybe there was a way out of his pit.
Onstage in Beverly Hills the occasional Cheshire cat grin emerged, mostly when the band hit an especially poignant groove.
Improbably, after so many years of abusing his body, Crosby’s voice remains a work of wonder. With only the slightest loss of his upper range, his voice is still crystal clear.
A sort of homecoming, indeed.

(photos by Brad Auerbach)

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.