Monday, April 24, 2017

Concert Review: David Crosby Inspires, and Disappoints, at Humphrey's By the Bay

David Crosby  - Photo by Jamie Reno
Singer-songwriter David Crosby performed for three hours last night at Humphrey's By the Bay in San Diego with his stellar band. It was a nice night of music. But it was also hugely disappointing.

Crosby, the legendary and legendarily cantankerous member of the Byrds, then Crosby, Stills & Nash, then Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, played only a few songs that most fans last night readily recognized ("Deja Vu," "Long Time Gone," "Delta"). 

The gracefully aging sailor instead chose to play a boatload of more obscure tracks from CPR, the jazz-tinged rock band he formed with his son, James Raymond, and acclaimed studio guitarist Jeff Pevar. 

CPR is a good band. Highly underrated, in fact. But is David or anyone else delusional enough to think the folks who filled Humphrey's last night came to hear CPR songs?

Crosby also played some tunes from the various Nash-Crosby collaborations. Good songs, all, and the band was tight. The harmonies were amazing. And Pevar all but stole the show with his fret mastery. 

However, even Crosby acknowledged during the concert that most of the tunes on the setlist are probably not known by the audience. 

I felt a bit slighted. A bit cheated. And a bit miffed. And clearly I wasn't alone. By the three-hour mark, nearly half the audience had bailed.

Granted, it was an older demographic. Some of these boomers were probably just getting sleepy. But it was obvious that while this crowd loved David Crosby, they were none too pleased with his choice of songs.

The fact that this beloved artist, who, bless him, is 75 years old and looks healthy and happy, repeated the same rambling story/diatribe about politicians in the first half of the show and the second, verbatim, didn't help matters. 

But we could have forgiven him that minor sin had he tried a bit harder to please. It's not that tough to entertain fans who love you as much as we do, David.

As a singer-songwriter, I respect the fact that an artist wants to play new stuff, obscure stuff and personal favorites, not just the same old songs over and over and over again. It's an age-old musician's dilemma. I get it. 

But I also believe artists have an obligation to play the songs that paid for their mansions, the songs for which they are famous, the songs we all know. The songs of our lives.

At the Crosby, Stills and Nash show reviewed here that took place two years ago in San Diego, they did it right. They played the hits, but each of the three particulars (Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash) also introduced several news songs. 

Most fans enjoy hearing the new stuff. At least a few songs. It's a delicate balance. But it bothers me when a veteran artist like Crosby, whose records haven't really sold in decades, forgets why his aging fans keep paying to see him. 

Last night's show was good, and at times great. I was into the music all night. I did not leave early. But it was frustrating. 

David, if you ever happen to read this, before you get pissed off and throw your laptop at me, just please consider this: Please don't ignore your sacred canon. Don't take your fans for granted and slight us just to please yourself. 

Please consider putting in your set a few more tunes we all know and love. It won't kill you to make us happy. At least put in "Wooden Ships," "Almost Cut My Hair," and "Guinnevere," for crying out loud. 

We all love you, and no, you're not selling out just by adding a few tunes that made you famous. To play three hours and not include a few more songs that you know full well will lift and inspire your adoring fans is just selfish. 

But then, this isn't the first time you've been accused of that, is it? We love you, David, but the truth is, you were having more fun on that stage last night than we were having in the audience.


  1. Just a few other reviews of Crosby's recent shows, much harsher than mine.

    1 / 5
    Plain Awful
    Humphrey's By the Bay - San Diego, CA - 04/23/2017
    Posted 04/24/2017by Corkyson This Fan's Reviews
    Since living in SoCal, we have attended many great concerts mostly in outdoor venues year round! We are especially fond of the older groups from the 70's or 80's, including Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Chicago, Herman's Hermits, America, Monkees, etc. However, last night we went to Humphrey's by the Bay to see David Crosby & friends, and were terribly disappointed. Approaching 76, he still has good pitch, but his new music is monotonous and political views laced into the concert was in poor taste, including repeating a story twice (once in each set), which was unnecessary. The first set was all his current CPR music ending with one song from CSN&Y. After intermission, he continued to sing new cuts from his CPR album as we and most of the crowd started exiting the concert shaking our heads. He may be in the Music Hall of Fame with his time with the Byrds and CSN&Y, but alone he is at best a bitter, old hippie who says he loves his country, but like many of today who disparage anyone who doesn't see things his way. I give the concert a D- and wouldn't recommend wasting your good hard earned American money on someone who can't move on from the past!☹️
    Favorite moment: None
    Setlist: New music and only one older song in first set. Walked out after 4th new song in second set.

    2 / 5
    Played few songs we recognized
    The Wiltern - Los Angeles, CA - Wed, Apr 19, 2017
    Posted 04/22/2017by Emdeeahf This Fan's Reviews
    He played only one song we knew before we left 20 minutes into the 2nd half, everything else was from "CPR", ( a band Crosby played in with his very talented son). We enjoyed seeing him and hearing his voice as well as his comments in between songs, however, we did not have the same enthusiasm for the music.
    Setlist: Nothing we knew

    2 / 5
    A little to self indulgent for me...
    The Grove, Aneheim - Aneheim, CA - 04/18/2017
    Posted 04/20/2017by fallinasleep This Fan's Reviews
    Let's ask the question " Do you go to concerts to hear NEW music from that artist, or songs you know and love? Or, perhaps a mix of the two?
    Judging from this crowd, most came to hear the songs of yesterday..The ones we know and love. The ones David Crosby made famous. The ones that are in our hearts and souls....
    Every single song he sang was flat and out of key, was similar to the last one, had no melody, no rhythm, and made no sense! I HATE songs that are up and down in structure, change keys mid phrase, and that sound basically like Jazz....In fact, I hate Jazz...No rhythm, no structure, no melody....And that was what this was...a mess of indulgence....Sorry. Love David Crosby..Wish he would have sang just ONE of the songs I came to hear, and paid GOOD money to hear.
    Favorite moment: Leaving

    1 / 5
    David Crosby....don't bother!
    Town Hall - New York, NY - Thu, Dec 15, 2016
    Posted 12/18/2016by NilsDlargo This Fan's Reviews
    A real snooze stuff sucks ..I understand you want to play the new stuff but most people want to hear the oldies but about a 60/40 mix new/old? Not 90/10
    Favorite moment: The end!

    2 / 5
    David Play Your Old Tunes
    Town Hall - New York, NY - Thu, Dec 15, 2016
    Posted 12/18/2016by MTor This Fan's Reviews
    Now I saw Crosby several years ago and it was a very enjoyable show. This time Crosby who is coming out with a new album only played from that album. At the end he said, i"I have a surprise for you", and played Woodstock the only bone the audience was thrown. I was at Desert Trip and saw The Rolling Stones, they too have a album coming out and played 98% of their old songs, which everyone loved. People want to hear what they know, therefore the show was a disappointment. One upside I enjoyed the venue the Town Hall in Manhattsn.
    Favorite moment: Woodstock encore

    1. I love David Crosby, always have, always will. He's a big boy, he can take a little respectful, constructive criticism. My review up top isn't nearly as harsh as some of the ones directly above.

  2. Glad I read these reviews before booking tickets to see Avett Brothers with Crosby in Red Rocks, June2018. No way now.

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