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August 25, 2010

Concert review: Jackson Browne at Pier Six Pavilion

jackson browne performs at pier six pavilion

Sun writer Nick Madigan saw Jackson Browne at Pier Six Pavilion. Here is his review:

Jackson Browne was never the kind of performer to call attention to himself.

For four decades, and without fanfare, he has been delivering his heartfelt tributes to enlightenment and lost love to packed houses of the faithful, all the while doing his utmost to avoid the harshest of the public spotlight's glare.

That reticence, born of profound and often sorrowful introspection, was never more clear than on Tuesday night, at Baltimore’s Pier Six Pavilion. Pairing up once again with his longtime collaborator David Lindley — the virtuoso stringman who was at his side for much of his early career — Browne not only started off with songs by other composers, Warren Zevon and Bruce Springsteen, but ceded the stage entirely to Lindley after just four numbers.

However, upon returning with his full band after an intermission, Browne — still improbably youthful at 61 — proved that the vagaries of age and the passage of time have dimmed neither his energy nor the pleasure he takes in his adherents' adulation, even if much of his audience — this reviewer included — long ago sprouted gray hair and crow's feet ...

Before the concert, talk in the crowd had turned to Browne's resilience.

"The question is, do people like him still have the voice?" asked Greg Dunn, in tie-dye shirt and beard, who recalled being at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia when Browne and Lindley recorded part of the album "Running on Empty" in August 1977. "David Crosby's voice is almost gone," Dunn said, "and the Grateful Dead never could sing, so it wasn't an issue."

As Tuesday's concert progressed, any doubts about Browne's vocal stamina were laid firmly to rest, as Dunn acknowledged when it was all over. With "In the Shape of a Heart," Browne stirringly aroused memories of vanished affections, while a wrenching version of "Your Bright Baby Blues" brought even the most vocal chatterboxes in the audience to silence, its lyrics a haunting echo of youthful misdirection — "No matter how fast I run / I can never seem to get away from me / no matter where I am / I can't help feeling / I'm just a day away from where I want to be."

jackson browne and david lindleyWith that song, the band achieved a clarity and direction it had only hinted at in the earlier numbers after almost a week's break from its U.S. tour. At the conclusion of "Fountain of Sorrow," a seminal Browne track in which he laments that the "magic feeling never seems to last," the crowd jumped to its collective feet, uproariously, and would keep doing so through a succession of songs from Browne's well established canon, including "The Pretender," "For a Dancer," "Doctor My Eyes" and "Rock Me on the Water."

Still, there remained the feeling that, by sticking largely to songs everyone knows — admittedly a demand habitually made on perennial performers — Browne was leaving some of his most adroit and evocative songs on the shelf, a missed opportunity to give voice to gems recorded long ago and sitting idle in record collections.

The audience at Pier Six seemed not to mind, though, and was particularly amused by Browne's famously artful gifts as between-songs raconteur. Explaining that he had just flown in from California after the break in the tour, he said the couple sitting in front of him on the plane had spent the whole flight in amorous pursuits. "Were there blankets involved?" Lindley asked him.

"Turns out there were not only blankets involved," Browne replied, "but there was a small dog involved, too."

(Photos by Nick Madigan)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:49 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Concert reviews


jackson could play for 4 hours and there still would be songs that were missed. Its not often that a feature act thanks the audience for allowing him to play. jeez the woodstock generation has gotten old

yes, songs would still be missed but how about missing shape of a heart for a change? your bright baby blues was a show stopper. david lindley is amazing and so is mark goldenberg. it was a fine concert. maybe at wolf trap jackson will change the set list a bit. please.

Amazing 3 hour show Tuesday night! I have seen Jackson Browne at least 7 times and vocally, he was the best I have ever heard him. And hearing David Lindley play made the night perfect. Great venue, great weather and great performances!

True, Browne left some of his gems on the shelf to play radio hits-- but he seemed to dig deeper into his archive than others of his stature. For instance, he did not play Somebody's Baby, The Load Out/Stay, Tender is the Night, and Take it Easy. But it was even better to hear I am a Patriot, and songs like My Problem is You-- songs that are amazing and just don't get the airplay. Great show. Would not change a thing.

Enjoyed this concert. Attended three Jackson Browne concerts in 2009. Charlottesville Pavilion was the best of those. Local person told me she was embarrassed for Baltimore at this show, regarding the lack of crowd enthusiasm until near the end. Thought the opening song choice was horrible. Only Jackson and David on stage confused me, wondered if this was going to be an acoustic event, other instruments set up on stage or not. Jackson leaving the stage alienated me, like David but am not that much of a fan of his own music. Second half was quite similar to last year, enjoyed the set list very much. His voice sounded exceptional, five days of rest and relaxation did him good. Surpised to learn that one week later the Buffalo show was cancelled due to Jackson being sick, another loyal fan felt that he was sick here in Baltimore. JACKSON! Please do something about the underhanded manipulation of ticket distribution that occurs almost everywhere, especially in the Washington / Baltimore area. Why should your true fans sit in less than the best seats? Obtaining tickets through the fan club and buy them at the first possible second no longer guarantees seats in the front ten rows. This activity really should be considered criminal. Hassle of needing to sell my disappointing early purchased tickets days before the show, from buying better seats on Craigslist or E-bay after the prices have become normal. We are older people now. Scalping is an activity for children. Promotors and box office managers and ticket directors are most all two faced with forked tongues. "Stopping the activity if they could" is propaganda and lying. JACKSON! You should mail the tickets out yourself from California to the very best sections. See you again tonight at Wolf Trap. You are my brother. Wonderful meeting you in 1989 (Merriweather) and 2009 ( Charlottesville).

I totally agree with Todd about the ticket sales! Online at 10 AM for the fan club pre-sale and I get row P? Really? Ended up buying VIP seats at a premium price for the CT concert...I mean, Jackson, you are definitely worth it and all, but we grown- ups need to buy washing machines and stuff... I love you no matter what

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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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