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November 10, 2009

Concert review: Jackson Browne at the Lyric Opera House

jackson browneIt's safe to say that nearly every rock song starts out the same way: An artist gets an idea and sits down with a guitar or keyboard to flesh it out.

The drums, bass and background singers all come later on, when the songs grow into sweeping ballads, bar anthems and the like. Every once in a while, you wonder what they sounded like when they were first written.

Last night, Jackson Browne pared back his songs for an all-acoustic solo show at the Lyric Opera House. The nearly two-and-a-half hour performance was a revealing showcase of the heralded singer/songwriter's sizable catalog.

Alone on stage for all but the encore, Browne effortlessly carried the crowd through a mix of his old and new material ...

This was a no-frills show, from the music to the lighting and stage setup. Aside from a table, a couple stools, a rack of at least 15 gorgeous acoustic guitars and a keyboard (and, of course, Browne) the stage was empty. All of the focus was on the music.

Age and perspective have added new depth to Browne's music, and his melancholy, nostalgic narratives seem more poignant than ever.

It's remarkable how little Browne has changed in the past few decades. He may be 60, but aside from some wrinkles on his face and streaks of gray in his hair, Browne looks nearly the same as he did when he debuted as a lanky, clean-shaven rock and folk singer in the early '70s. His voice is more frayed now, but last night, he was belting out the high notes on "Running on Empty" like it was 1978.

After opening with a few of his own songs, Browne played a pair from his old pal Warren Zevon -- the somber "Don't Let Us Get Sick" and the foot-stomping "Lawyers, Guns and Money."

The audience would shout requests between songs, and occasionally, Browne would play one. He broke into what he referred to as the "rehab" version of "Cocaine," complete with a few spontaneous-sounding verses about missing brain cells and such.

From "The Pretender" to "Somebody's Baby," Browne played most of his hits, as well as several lesser known songs such as "Black and White" (from 1986's "Lives in the Balance"), "Looking Into You" (from his self-titled 1972 debut) and "Giving That Heaven Away," off his most recent album, 2008's "Time the Conqueror."

During the encore, Browne brought out a guitarist he introduced as Albert his guitar tech, Manny Alvarez for "Our Lady of the Well" and "Take it Easy" -- an upbeat finish to an impressive evening.

(AP photo)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:57 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Concert reviews


The guitarist on the encores actually was Manny Alvarez, Jackson's guitar tech.

Jxnfan, thanks for clearing that up. Fixed!

What a nice review for a pretty cool guy.. his music brings back some really great memories..and a perfect venue at which to see him.

Just a heads up - tonight's Roger Daltrey concert at the Lyric was cancelled.

God he looks old

God is old...

where ( name ) did jackson browne play in Orlando, Fl. ??

Does he still beat his wife or girlfriend?

thanks for the post.

i had listen the song it pretty good initial guitar string were awesome

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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