David Crosby And Friends
Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Hits and weird shit from eternally relevant counter-cultural icon.
With his handlebar moustache and political activism intact, at 77 David Crosby remains an icon of 1960s counterculture, whose music with The Byrds and CSNY helped define that generation.
Crosby isn’t the chattiest person when he and his five-piece band appear on stage to thunderous applause, but after a few songs he opens up, delivering an impassioned speech in which he apologises for America and slams capitalism before playing the stripped-back, powerful What Are Their Names, which segues beautifully into CSN favourite Long Time Gone.
He introduces each band member – including his son James Raymond on keyboards – with warm anecdotes about how they met, and the chemistry between them all is electric. Keyboard player Michelle Willis also plays her own song Janet, which makes jaws drop.
The band give the classics new dimensions: with solos, harmonies and improvised jams, soft CSN songs like Déjà Vu and the psych pop of The Byrd’s Eight Miles High bloom into jazzier, rockier beasts, but retain their impact and nostalgia.
Somehow, Crosby’s vocals still rumble richly. He doesn’t let rip during every song, but when he does, particularly on the encore of his counterculture anthem Almost Cut My Hair and Neil Young’s protest song Ohio, two songs that embody what Crosby represents, it’s spellbinding.