Jackson Browne | 10.19.08

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Photo: Amy Burger 

 

The show was mainly a low-key affair, with Browne performing seven of the ten songs on Time the Conquerer with a few classics mixed in over the course of two sets.


Fabulous Fox Theater, St. Louis

Growing up in the 70s in St. Louis, Jackson Browne was very much a part of the soundtrack of my youth. I can clearly remember singing along to hits like "Running on Empty," "The Pretender" and "Doctor My Eyes" blaring on KSHE radio. Those are nice memories of a very specific time.

I had seen Browne once before, several years ago at an intimate, outdoor venue in South Florida and it was a great experience, so I was delighted to learn he would be making a stop at the Fabulous Fox here in St. Louis on the tour for his latest release, Time the Conquerer, his first set of new material in six years. Long a fan of singers/songwriters in general, and particularly those of the 60s-70s, I’ve always enjoyed Browne’s smooth vocals and laid-back style coupled with his strong political messages.

Browne took the stage promptly at 7:30 along with his band including Kevin McCormick (bass), Mark Goldenberg  (guitars), Mauricio Lewak (drums) and Jeff Young (keyboards, backing vocals), as well as stellar back-up vocalists Chavonne Morris and Alethea Mills. They launched immediately into the classic crowd-pleaser, "Boulevard" from the 1983 album Hold Out.

Browne’s Sunday evening appearance was apparently the end of a weekend of activities in St. Louis as he mentioned having attended the Obama rally under the Arch Saturday morning followed by the David Byrne concert that evening on the very same stage at the Fox.

The show was mainly a low-key affair, with Browne performing seven of the ten songs on Time the Conquerer with a few classics mixed in over the course of two sets. Browne’s voice has remained virtually unchanged with the passing of time. He has one of those very distinctive vocal styles that is instantly recognizable. He seemed quite at ease and bantered with the audience freely, talking about the origins of the songs and reminiscing a bit about the glory days of the 60s and L.A.’s famed Laurel Canyon scene.

The first set was a bit slow moving but closed strong with an energetic performance of "Doctor My Eyes" from Browne’s self-titled debut album. He resumed the second set with an acoustic version of "Something Fine" from the same 1972 record. He closed out with two of his top hits, "The Pretender" and "Running on Empty," and then returned for an encore performance- an upbeat cover of "I Am a Patriot" by "Little Steven" Van Zandt.

And now, a brief public service announcement for those who have not been out of the house and to a concert since 1970. It is not appropriate to scream the names of songs you want to hear the artist play at the top of your lungs over and over in between every song. Now, I realize this does happen frequently at concerts – there’s always one drunk guy in the back yelling "Freebird" or something. But I am talking about 30 or 40 people doing it, EVERY TIME the band finished a song. I have never witnessed anything like it before; and as distracting as it was to me, I cannot imagine how annoying it could have been for Jackson Browne. Shut up and let the man play people.

Despite the audience’s "overzealousness" on song requests, the show overall was a good one; not great, but good. The biggest disappointment for me personally was that he didn’t perform the ultimate Browne concert staple of "The Load Out" and "Stay;" but I didn’t want it bad enough to scream it at him.

I’ll admit the show did seem somewhat lackluster and dragged a bit at times, but the quality of Browne’s voice, his strong songwriting skills and his musicianship still remain intact after more than 35 years. | Amy Burger

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