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Jackson Browne proves he can still take it easy in Phoenix

Jackson Browne proved he can still take it easy when he visited downtown Phoenix on Wednesday, Feb. 13, for a sold-out show at the Orpheum Theatre. With a band that included disciples Taylor Goldsmith of indie folk faves Dawes and Val McCallum, the architect of the laid-back California sound gave the crowd a mostly low-key evening, reasserting his mantle as the king of Laurel Canyon.

“This is what people imagine it’s like in LA when musician friends get together at home,” he said, introducing his bandmates. “Or it would be if we had the time to get together and jam.”

The three-hour show was packed with obscurities while still showcasing the radio faves that made Browne one of the biggest stars of the ’70s. The stripped-down setting allowed the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s songwriting craftsmanship and wordplay to shine on songs like “The Barricades of Heaven” and “Fountain of Sorrow,” which closed the first set.

Working without a setlist, Browne took the stage to the obscure “Black and White,” from 1986’s “Lives in the Balance.” Throughout the evening he chatted amiably with the crowd, sharing stories and taking shouted requests throughout the evening.

“You get one, then I get one,” he said, following a sublime “Late for the Sky” for a fan with the more recent “For Taking the Trouble.” His system broke down pretty quickly, however, as he would grab a guitar and walk to his chair at center stage, get barraged with requests, put the guitar down and head back to his piano.

He also joked that he has rules that state whenever an audience member requests “Doctor My Eyes” or “Running On Empty,” he has to stop what he’s doing and play those songs. Both songs had the crowd dancing and cheering McCallum’s twangy lead guitar.

The second set delved deep into Browne’s back catalog to kick-off with “Something Fine,” an album track from his 1972 debut. But much of the rest was devoted to his ’70s hits. That included the beautiful ode “For a Dancer” to “The Pretender,” which brought the crowd to its feet.

The show closed with the classic “Take It Easy,” popularized by the Eagles, which Browne said was written in Arizona or Utah, showcasing Glenn Frey’s ability to rhyme lord and Ford.

Browne quickly returned, of course, and after calling Dawes his favorite band and exhorting the audience to buy all their CDs, he let Goldsmith take the mic for Dawes’ “Fire Away.”

“Before the Deluge” brought the evening to end, its bleak, apocalyptic lyrics sadly appropriate. Browne, a longtime environmental and political activist, made his only political statement of the evening, offering hope to his fans amidst the dark times with the lyrical mantra, “Let the music keep your spirits high.”

Setlist:

“Black and White”

“Call It a Loan”

“Giving That Heaven Away”

“The Barricades of Heaven”

“Late For the Sky”

“For Taking the Trouble”

“Love Needs a Heart”

“Doctor My Eyes”

“A Child in These Hills”

“Tokyo Girl” (McCallum)

“Fountain of Sorrow”

Intermission

“Something Fine”

“For a Dancer”

“Your Bright Baby Blues”

“Running on Empty”

“Shaky Town”

“Red Neck Friend”

“Sleep’s Dark and Silent Gate”

“In the Shape of a Heart”

“The Pretender”

“These Days”

“Take It Easy”

Encore:

“Fire Away”

“Before the Deluge”

By Michael Senft The Republic | azcentral.com

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