These Days, Jackson Browne is pretty alright

Jackson Browne at The Center in Vancouver for Performing Arts 27/4/17

Photo courtesy of the Georgia Straight

“Jackson…Jackson…Jackson…” the audience heard a women whisper in the Center in Vancouver for Performing Arts last Thursday (April 27) during the middle of Jackson Browne’s occupation of the stage.

“How did you get in my monitor?” he said laughed, as she handed him a bouquet of flowers and a card with a song request. This particular scene could sum up that evening of the (Pretty Much) Somewhat Acoustic Tour: adoring fans begging Browne to play their favourites of his many, many hits and shouting their love for the iconic singer-songwriter.

If, (and that’s a big if), Jackson Browne needs an introduction, it’s only because he has so many recognizable songs one might not realize that they are all by him. Surrounded by an impressive twenty-five guitars and accompanied by expert guitarist Greg Leisz, Browne gave Vancouver a very intimate and relaxed show. By the end of the night the two musicians would have played every single one of those guitars. Browne opened with “Before the Deluge”, and it was clear from the beginning that this audience was one that would vocally adore literally anything he threw at them. Browne’s voice was record-perfect and he approached each song with obvious affection, despite his laid-back air. The venue is a large church, which set a low-key vibe for the evening, despite fans shouting out songs throughout the entirety of the show. Browne didn’t seem to particularly enjoy the interruptions, although he played along and let the audience run the show. This is not the first time on the tour an audience has bogarted the night. “We’ll see how far you get calling the songs,” Browne joked.

From Warren Zevon’s “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” to the classic guitar-heavy “Cocaine” and beloved Browne single “Rosie”, the famed 70s performer gave the crowd everything he had at the ready. “Cocaine” reminded the audience just how huge Browne was at the height of his career and the excess that typically accompanied that kind of fame in the arguable rock golden age. Browne referenced the Beatle’s film A Hard Days Night and John Lennon’s Cola sniffing scene as a memorable moment for him before he even knew what cocaine was. “What I need is a nice little drug habit,” said Browne. “Then people would say, oh don’t call him he’s pretty fucked up.”

A beautiful moment game with “That Girl Can Sing”—“I really wrote this song when I was out of my mind about her,” Browne said about the recently late “great beauty” and famed back-up vocalist Valerie Carter. Carter released solo albums throughout her time on the scene, but made her largest musical contributions—in the form of songwriting and vocal accompaniment—to the likes of Browne, James Taylor and numerous other 70s and 80s musical heavy-hitters.

Browne’s famous wit and playfulness was front and center all evening, despite the audience hitting annoying heights with their interruptions. The performer processes a swagger that keeps him loveable far beyond his time as a key player on the music scene. “The Pretender”, “Running On Empty” and “Doctor My Eyes” showcased Browne’s growling yet clear vocals, and the latter’s insanely catchy piano interludes took concertgoers into Browne’s world of poetic lyricism, introspection and playful chords.

Browne recounting his time in Winslow, Arizona gave the crowd a taste of what was to come before the second set even began. Finally during the encore Browne belted out his classic hit “Take It Easy”, an American standard made famous by The Eagles—“Well I’m standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona, and such a fine sight to see.” Was acoustic the best way to hear all these classics? Not entirely, but the medium allowed Browne to showcase himself as a raw talent, encouraging everyone to take it easy for the rest of the night.