Jackson Browne at Kings Theatre

Jackson Browne in concert, March 2008 (By Craig ONeal (Jackson Browne) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)
Jackson Browne
Kings Theatre, Brooklyn, NY
September 25, 2015
by David Chiu

Throughout his performance for the first time at Kings Theatre Friday night, singer-songwriter Jackson Browne was often complimenting how beautiful the venue looked. The palatial former movie theater, which was recently refurbished and reopened after decades of inactivity, provided a rather awe-inspiring sight for those in attendance. Likewise, the Kings was a perfect and majestic setting for Browne’s thoughtful and introspective music that drew a virtually capacity crowd inside (Interestingly, it occurred on the same night Pope Francis was giving Mass at Madison Square Garden—so at least two rock stars of their respective genres were in the Big Apple simultaneously).

Into his fifth decade in music, although his still-youthful appearance and ageless voice would say otherwise, Browne and his band performed for nearly two hours a selection of both old favorites as well as newer material from last year’s excellent Standing on the Breach album. From the set list, Browne deftly balanced between the personal, reflective material that ushered him to stardom in the early ’70s (“Fountain of Sorrow,” “Late for the Sky,” “These Days,” “I’m Alive”), and the more politically and socially-minded of his output from the ’80s onward. In fact, the topics from songs like “The Long Way Around,” “Which Side You’re On,” “Standing on the Breach,” and “If Could Be Anywhere”—which collectively address the environment, Haiti, money’s impact on the political process, and the proliferation of guns – are sadly more relevant than ever.

Certainly, Browne performed his best-known material, including the still-burning rocker “Running on Empty” and “Take It Easy” (which the Eagles made as one of their signature songs) late in the set. To his credit, he also performed some really deep cuts as opposed to making the evening a more-hit oriented show, like with “For Everyman,” and he even reworked “My Opening Farewell” as a lovely duet with singer Teresa Williams (who opened the show with her husband guitarist Larry Campbell. There were even very rootsy moments reflecting his earlier work like “Leaving Winslow” and a cover of Warren Zevon’s “Mama Couldn’t Be Persuaded.”

The artist’ backing band was in fine form that included some amazing guitar and pedal steel work by Campbell and Greg Leisz, respectively; also involved bring a grace and fire to the proceedings were veteran bassist Bob Glaub; and long time band members keyboardist Jeff Young and drummer Mauricio Lewak. Alternating between guitar and the piano, Browne provided poignant moments, especially on “These Days” and “Standing on the Breach.”

Browne’s thoughtful music and the expansive beauty of the Kings Theatre made the night quite sublime in some sense. The artist pretty much ensured himself an open invitation to play in Brooklyn again—and hopefully he will.

Set list:

The Barricades of Heaven
Just Say Yeah
The Long Way Around
Leaving Winslow
These Days
My Opening Farewell
Mama Couldn’t Be Persuaded
For Everyman
I’m Alive
For a Dancer
Fountain of Sorrow
Your Bright Baby Blues
Which Side You’re On
If I Could Be Anywhere
Standing on the Breach
Late for the Sky
Running on Empty


Take It Easy


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