Jackson Browne: Beacon Theater 4 August 2012

My second night with Jackson Browne was similar to my first, which was slightly disappointing. His catalog is big enough that he could have done a completely different set. He did tell the audience that he allowed the audience from the night before dictate too many of the choices so he was sticking more to what he wanted to play but he would also play what was called out – as long as at least three people called out the same song.

But despite the very slight disappointment, I was still thrilled to be there and I still had just as good a time. Because it was two hours of great music with Jackson Browne.

I want to note something here. For some, Jackson Browne will forever be the guy who hit Daryl Hannah. If you Google it, you will find that both Browne and Hannah have denied the rumor. You will also find others who still believe it, especially given Browne’s romantic past (leaving Joni Mitchell for the woman who became his first wife, his first wife’s suicide, leaving his second wife for Daryl Hannah) but he has been in a steady relationship now since the mid-1990s. I don’t know if there were any demons to overcome but, if there were, he looks like he’s dealt with them. If I judged all my musical heroes by their personal life, I’d have very little music to listen to. I prefer to concentrate on the art. If that makes me a hypocrite, then that’s what I am.

Back to the show. Sara Watkins charmed me this time around. I liked the sound of her voice better. I certainly preferred the way she was dressed the second night. On night one she was wearing a very short dress and very high platforms and she kept bending over to pick up her fiddle. This time she was wearing a longer dress. Plus the glasses added a sweetness. The musical ability of Watkins, brother Sean Watkins on piano and Tyler Chester on bass, percussion, organ, and piano was still outstanding. The songs grew on me especially “Where Will You Be?” Again, Watkins invited Browne and his band to play a few songs with her.

Jackson Browne started at the piano again and there were still the 30 guitars. Guitarist Val McCallum took his turn with his song “Tokyo Girl” and also provided harmonica and backing vocals. Mauricio Lewak kept a steady beat on the drums and provided that big punch on the rockers.

Before the show I was listening to two guys behind me. One was commenting that Browne must be really old now and he would probably be mellow and not like Springsteen. When was Browne ever like Springsteen? Browne defines laidback LA. When he was telling us about his wandering about the city earlier in the day he said that whenever he thinks about moving to NYC he realizes that he’s really a southern California boy and besides if he lived here then he could never visit.

One of the strange things that happened in the full theater (full both nights) is when people cheer a sad lyric. I love “For a Dancer,” which I think is one of the best songs ever written about death, but clapping and cheering is not what I want to do while listening to it.
As they did the night before on “Running on Empty” when they got to the line “I don’t know about anyone but me” the band stopped and the lights shown on the audience so that it was only us singing the line.

I missed what song it was but when someone called out a certain song Browne said that he thought he didn’t know how to play that song but then he saw himself on YouTube 40 years ago performing that song, so apparently he did know it at one time.

One of the joys of being in the Beacon Theater is getting to sit in a beautiful palace.


Set List

  • Black and White
  • Standing in the Breach (written about the Haitian earthquake)
  • Call It a Loan (written with David Lindley)
  • I’m Alive
  • Looking East
  • These Days
  • For Everyman
  • For a Dancer
  • A Child in These Hills
  • Tokyo Girl (McCallum lead vocal)
  • The Barricades of Heaven
  • Looking into You
  • The Naked Ride Home (about reverence for the female form)
  • The Late Show
  • I’ll Do Anything
  • Running on Empty
  • Encore

  • The Pretender
  • Take It Easy
  • By Carene Lydia Lopez