Concert review: Jackson Browne at Ruth Eckerd Hall (with pics + setlist)

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Beginning promptly at 8:00 pm, Jackson slowly walked on stage and sat himself at a plain wooden chair. From there, the magic began. After opening with an impassioned version of "The Barricades Of Heaven", Browne hinted at how laid back and spontaneous the night would be. He stood and grabbed a different guitar and quickly returned it to it's resting place on his large guitar rack after a loud, bellowing request came from the audience. "I'm Alive!" someone yelled to which Browne gladly obliged and instead grabbed the appropriate guitar for that number. He launched into that tune from his 1993 album of the same name then let it be known that there was no predetermined set list for the night; it was whatever he "felt like playing" he happily announced. No truer words could have been spoken. After back-to-back covers of songs by the late Warren Zevon, a long-time friend and peer, Browne accepted the often-heard (and, seriously,  no longer amusing) cat call for Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" . And he tackled it. Not once have I EVER heard any other artist acknowledge that request (besides Skynyrd, of course) and actually play the Southern Rock anthem. "I know that one!" Browne sheepishly announced as he began his perfect, note-for-note rendition. No preplanned set list, indeed.

After a short intermission, Browne returned and continued the loose yet dazzling momentum of the night. Signature songs like "The Pretender", "Running On Empty", "For Everyman" and "Take It Easy" (co-written with Glenn Frey of The Eagles)sounded fresh as ever and  brought the mostly 50+ crowd to a specific place and time in their lives to which they in turn responded enthusiastically and appreciatively.

Aside from his poignant writing and his magnificent delivery, Browne is still a political activist. He has never squandered the opportunity to speak his mind and Friday night was no exception. The enormous amount of pollution and trash floating in the Pacific Ocean was addressed as were the dangers of continuing to consume water from plastic bottles that add to the insurmountable mountains of waste. A perfect segue to the mention of the metal, eco-friendly water bottles that were being sold at the merchandise booth in the lobby. All this and a clever salesman to boot!

The night was filled with memories, witty between-song banter and a genuine playfulness. It's an understatement to say that I enjoyed myself tremendously. I don't know if it's because I'm now older and (hopefully) wiser and more attuned to where Browne is coming from musically and lyrically. Maybe it's just taken me this long to fully realize Jackson Browne's message. Hell, I don't know...I'm just glad I had the realization in time to attend and really dig this show. And I'm happy to say it's one of the best shows I've attended this year.

  • The Barricades of Heaven

  • I’m Alive

  • These Days

  • Don’t Let Us Get Sick (Warren Zevon cover)

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money (Warren Zevon cover)

  • Rosie

  • Fountain of Sorrow

  • For A Dancer

  • Giving That Heaven Away

  • Just Say Yeah

  • Rock Me On The Water-intermission-

  • For Everyman

  • Going Down To Cuba

  • Running On Empty

  • Freebird

  • Shaky Town

  • The Pretender

  • Sky Blue and Black

  • Here

  • Take It Easy

  • Our Lady of the Well

  • Before The Deluge-encore-

  • Red Neck Friend

When I was much younger, I wasn't much of a Jackson Browne fan. As a pre-teen growing up in Providence, Rhode Island it was common to hear Browne's many hit singles on the radio. I enjoyed some of them but was never drawn to buy any of them on my weekly jaunts with the family to the local department store to buy 45s. [Photos by Sam Goresh.]

Browne's 1976's hit "Here Come Those Tears Again" was the first song that my sister and I were able to record on a cassette while it was airing on the radio thanks to the fancy new stereo our mom had bought during the bicentennial year. Needless to say, I was aware of Jackson Browne's music but it never had much of an affect on me.

As I grew older I learned to respect his songwriting skills, but again, there wasn't much of a connection. It always seemed to me that Jackson was writing to a much older and more mature audience. His tales of adulthood and the responsibilities that come with it didn't really resonate with me. As I've slowly eased into my fourth decade, much has changed. My outlook on life, my expectations, my realizations...they've all shifted and gone through a drastic overhaul. And yes, now, finally, I've gained a passion for Jackson Browne's music and more specifically, the insight and wisdom that he crafts into each and every one of his compositions.

And Friday night, before a passionate sold-out crowd, I got to see and hear Mr. Browne bring the house down at Ruth Eckerd Hall in the most intimate and stripped-down setting possible: Browne is currently in the midst of one of his solo acoustic tours where he travels only with a small electric piano and a slew of acoustic guitars. There honestly couldn't have been a better local venue for this show to take place. The impeccable sound and acoustics that Ruth Eckerd Hall boasts really worked to Browne's advantage.  Somehow, Jackson Browne has managed to retain his sharp vocal abilities throughout his 40-year career while many of his contemporaries haven't been as lucky. His timbre and pitch are as strong and recognizable as ever. The enunciation and phrasing of his words and breaths are still as cleverly paced as ever. Throw in his underrated yet exceptional guitar skills and you've got yourself the makings of a memorable show.

About The Author

Gabe Echazabal

I was born on a Sunday Morning.I soon received The Gift of loving music.Through music, I Found A Reason for living.It was when I discovered rock and roll that I Was Beginning To See The Light.Because through music, I'm Set Free.It's always helped me keep my Head Held High.When I started dancing to that fine, fine...
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