Rock Concert Review: Jefferson Starship

David Freiberg, at 74, still has the energy to play the trippy, cerebral and butt-kicking sound of his iconic band

Jefferson Starship 370 (photo credit: (Courtesy/PR))
Jefferson Starship 370
(photo credit: (Courtesy/PR))
When I’m 74, I want to be like David Freiberg – still rocking the world with an old friend, Jefferson Airplane/ Starship founder Paul Kantner. Added to that, I would like to have his great singing voice, his corona of saintly white hair and, more than anything, the energy to play the trippy, cerebral and butt-kicking sound of one of rock’s all-time iconic bands at full tilt night after night.
I draw that conclusion after seeing Freiberg and Jefferson Starship, featuring recent lead guitar addition Jude Gold and hot blonde female vocalist Cathy Richardson, play a blistering 19-song set at Reading 3 at the Tel Aviv Port on Tuesday night to a full house. The band successfully navigated its inherent challenges – a song catalogue that ranges from flat-out arena rock to trippy, nod-off songs, a generation’s difference among its current members, and the age and infirmities of its captain and pilot, Kantner – to provide a two-hour set that left ears ringing, eyes shining and hands sore from clapping.
The Starship opened its set with a triple header of psychedelic era classics – “Somebody to Love,” “Fresh Air” (via Quicksilver Messenger Service, courtesy of the aforementioned Freiberg, a QMS founder) and “Crown of Creation.”
Kantner introduced “Crown” with a nod to the just-underway Democratic convention in the US by saying it had been written for the party’s 1968 convention and then rejected for being too radical. In some ways, it still is: “In loyalty to their kind, they cannot tolerate our minds / In loyalty to our kind, we cannot tolerate their obstruction.”
The band slowed down the tempo with tunes from the Starship era, “Count on Me” and “Miracles” bracketing another Summer of Love anthem, The Youngbloods’ “Get Together.”
There were solo turns by Freiberg and Richardson, who has had her own career, as well as the “Grace Slick-chick vocalist” gig with the Starship. (She’s also sung the Janis Joplin part with the latest iteration of Big Brother and the Holding Company.) Stop me if you’ve heard too many classic rock references.
By the time the band launched into the closing third of the show, with another Quicksilver rarity, the apocalyptic “Pride of Man,” this reviewer had jumped to his feet, followed shortly by the rest of the crowd, which had been lethargic for much of the show. A scorching “Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil,” the ever-trippy “White Rabbit” and the revolutionary anthem “Volunteers” closed the set, with a double encore of “With a Little Help from My Friends,” and Airplane’s “Other Side of This Life” the icing on the cake.
Kantner, beaten but not bowed, switching among a quartet of classic six- and 12-string Rickenbacker guitars, showed us he still cares about the music, the vibe and the people. His desire for Freiberg and himself to pilot Jefferson Starship to new countries and heights with fresh personnel paid off in Tel Aviv.