Alive and Well in New Jersey
A SoundPress.net Archive Article by Rich and Laura Lynch
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne returned to the Mayo Center for the Performing Arts in Morristown, New Jersey on October 17, 2011 and proceeded to deliver a compelling and captivating acoustic cross-section of his catalogue that lived up to all the expectations his title would convey.
Jackson Browne performs at the MAYO PAC in Morristown, New Jersey in October 2011.
Browne has been on tour extensively for most of his career but for the better part of the decade he's been rotating between full-band excursions and solely acoustic outings. For this concert the set-up was the latter with Jackson being supported on stage only by seventeen acoustic guitars and one lone electric piano.
Jackson emerged on stage shortly after 8 p.m. in black boots, blue jeans and a dark shirt. He waved to the audience and proceeded to open with "Barricades of Heaven" - his autobiographical tale of entering the world of music during his teenage years in California.
Next up was the refined "Something Fine" from his 1972 self-titled debut followed by the more recent "For Taking the Trouble" from The Naked Ride Home collection.
Early on Jackson had some personal interaction and conversations with a few fans in the audience. When a female admirer asked "When are you coming to Charlotte" Browne paused for a moment.
"Isn't that where the DNC is going to be?," he asked her before alluding to his well-known propensity for political action. "We should go there and stir up some shit."
Browne's solo concerts can be raucous affairs but for the first three songs of the evening the audience was considerably reserved and respectful. That is until Jackson said, "So, what would you like to hear?"
At that point a cacophony of requests and suggestions shot up through the air. An amused Browne looked pleased at the reaction and laughed that he "wasn't actually able to make out any song titles."
The evening moved a little further along with the fantastic "Farther On" followed by an upbeat "Rock Me On the Water".
Jackson continued with sterling versions of "Looking East" and "Your Bright Baby Blues". He seemed to be enjoying himself while providing fans with a triple A setlist of great sounding songs. He explained -
"You know, it sounds so good to me in this place. I'm having a good time," Jackson said while complimenting his crew for their work in getting things just right. Browne explained how sometimes great soundchecks don't always translate into good performances. But, he seemed very happy with this venerable venue's vibe.
Jackson Browne's gear lined up on stage before Monday night's command performance in Morristown.
The first transcendent moment of the night for us came when Jackson delivered a three-pack of songs from his I'm Alive album - beginning first with the title track. This record from 1993 was generally considered a return to form for the singer-songwriter and was hailed as a comeback of sorts after an extended foray into the realm of politico-rock that fans of his love songs didn't always embrace (If you get a chance listen to this disc!).
"Sky Blue and Black" and "Two of Me, Two of You" were two more heart-wrenching songs about love, loss, disillusion and resignation that struck a chord with the sold-out crowd. Jackson performed "These Days" before taking a short break.
Following the intermission Browne returned with the apocalyptic "For Everyman" before performing a two song tribute to his departed friend Warren Zevon.
"Zevon was always singing about mortality, even on his early albums," Jackson said following a hasty and halted version of "Hasten Down the Wind." Jackson laughed a bit as he struggled to recall the lyrics saying, "It's really a pretty song, beautiful in its simplicity" finding irony in it being so simple he couldn't remember it entirely.
"Here's one of his lesser known songs," Browne remarked before playing "Don't Let Us Get Sick" from a later album in the Zevon canon.
Throughout the evening Jackson switched between one of his numerous guitars and piano often reaching for one or the other and then changing his mind when a request was shouted out. Jackson's instrumental sound was crisp, clean and clear and the space in between the music kept the audience attentive and engaged during the two-hour plus performance. And all night long the vocal fans kept the suggestions coming.
"Careful, cause I know 'Freebird'," Browne said after the world's most requested song was yelled out. Jackson then played another autobiographical number - the fan favorite - "The Pretender" and proceeded to deliver another ten songs thereafter.
Browne proved he was alive and well during his 25-song set on this cool mid-fall Monday night. "Alive In the World" was another highlight before he ended his main set with the traditional show closer, "Running On Empty".
"Thanks so much. Thanks for making me feel at home," Browne remarked as he emerged back on stage following sustained applause. Jackson had enough in his tank to deliver one more ending the evening with a lively version of Little Steven's oft covered modern day classic "I Am a Patriot" which was a rocking and righteous way to send the patrons home.
Jackson Browne Setlist - October 17, 2011
Jackson Browne - The Hold Out's sold out concert in Morristown, New Jersey was something fine.
(Originally Published on October 18, 2011)
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