Recorded in 2018, but not released until until December 2022, a little more than a month before he died at age 81.
David Crosby was quite busy in his last years, touring and releasing several studio albums. It was a creative period, partially driven by financial reasons. As a legacy artist, he had to generate income to pay the bills, and he did. The pandemic took him off the road, although he had a desire to play concerts, even though arthritis in his hands would force him to give up the guitar.
Live at the Capitol Theatre is a fitting coda to his long career. It’s a mellow, but beautifully moving collection of old and newer music. Recorded and filmed at the historic Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. A DVD of the concert is included with the audio CD.
Crosby is accompanied by Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis and Michael League, known as The Lighthouse Band, backing him on guitar, bass and keyboards. They also provide backing and harmony vocals, and appeared on his 2016 Lighthouse album and toured in support of his Here if You Listen album in 2018.
This album reminds me of the early 1970s acoustic performances with Graham Nash, where they played with just their guitars and exquisite vocal work, dissecting their group and solo material into quiet and elongated arrangements that allowed their vocals to soar and resonate. Crosby never got much credit for his guitar playing; he wasn’t fancy, just steady and knew his way around a melody. It complimented his soaring and silky voice, which never left him even after a lifetime of hard-living. His voice and sense of harmony was unique. No one sounded like him; not now or ever.
One thing I notice is how generous Crosby is with sharing the spotlight. Two of the songs were solo compositions by Stevens and Willis, who handle lead vocals. Crosby shares songwriting credit with eight other songs. Four songs are from Crosby’s catalog and the closer is by Joni Mitchell.
“The Us Below” – From Lighthouse. Written by Crosby/League/Marcus Eaton. A tender, nicely played song. The style grabs your attention right away, and it continues through the album.
“Things We Do For Love” – Also from Lighthouse. A Crosby/League composition. Nice arrangement.
“1974” – A song Crosby wrote and stuck away for decades. It is credited to all four, so it must have undergone some revisions on its way to Here if You Listen.
“Vagrants of Venice” – Another group composition. A very nice vocal arrangement equally featuring all four voices.
“Regina” – Written by and featuring Stevens.
“Laughing” – One of Crosby’s most iconic songs, from If I Could Only Remember My Name (1971). It’s a quiet, meandering tune, which sometimes best describes Crosby’s music style, and much of this album.
“What Are Their Names” – Also from If I Could Only Remember My Name.
“By The Light of Common Day” – Co-written with Stevens. Also from Lighthouse. Haunting.
“Glory” – From Here if You Listen, another group composition. One of the sweetest melodies. Great electric guitar fills.
“The City” – A Crosby/League composition, who share lead vocals. A song about New York City. From Lighthouse.
“Look in Their Eyes” – Crosby/League wrote this song, from Lighthouse. A story of displaced people trying to flee war.
“Guinnevere” – Crosby’s song from Crosby, Stills & Nash. Just as haunting as it was in 1969. Nice arrangement; I like this version better than the original.
“Janet” – Written by Willis. A jazzy, soulful performance. It doesn’t quite fit the rest of the album.
“Carry Me” – From Wind on the Water (1975). Some of Crosby’s best work was recorded for this album.
“Déjà Vu” – The title track from Déjà Vu (1970). One of Crosby’s best rockers. Here, a jazzy intro, Crosby’s scat vocals and a loose arrangement with electric piano solo.
“Woodstock” – Joni Mitchell’s song, from the Déjà Vu. A nice, spiritual closing to an album, and a life.
Live at the Capitol Theatre is not an old man’s last grasp of a career near the end. Recorded four years before his death, it shows a musician playing to his strengths and being a member of a band, giving his all, and elevating everyone’s performance. That’s what I’ll remember.
2 thoughts on “David Crosby: Live at the Capitol Theatre (review)”
I was never a big Crosby fan, even in the CSN days. Something about the man made me uneasy and a bit squirmish. Perhaps it was the Woodstock performance or the 1967 Monterrey festival where he stood with the Buffalo Springfield. Then, I saw CSN in the early 90s in Dallas, and he had the nerve to say on stage, ” welcome to Dallas, the city that killed kennedy.” Then it was clear the man was a complete self-indulged asswipe. He may have contributed the nice middle voice to CSN and the Byrds, but he was a less-than-stellar human being. As he got older, he admitted such and tried to make amends, but time passed, and it became too late. The younger folks either didn’t care or were so enamored with his persona allowing them to make some music with the guy. At one time in early 65, I thought the man was the Byrds himself. Times change and they are still changing.
The man had a lot of faults. Very arrogant and brazen, he made a lot of enemies, and that caught up with him. As a musician, he had a lot to give, that voice was heavenly.