Jackson Browne at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

Support:
June 29, 2017 at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

As part of his (Pretty Much) Somewhat Acoustic tour, legendary singer songwriter Jackson Browne stopped off in Liverpool to perform in the grand surrounding of the Philharmonic Hall to a sold out crowd. With no support act, the audience had the chance to see two full sets from the Californian, backed on this tour by what he has referred to as his ideal band (comprising Val Macallum on guitar, Mauricio Lewak on drums, Jeff Young on Keyboards, Bob Glaub on bass, Alethea Mills on vocals and Greg Liesz on guitar, lap steel and pedal steel). With his ideal band and an enthusiastic sold out crowd, a great night was in store.

Opening with a couple of songs from his most recent albums, it wasn’t too long before some older material was aired and with them, a few anecdotes surrounding that particular song. First up was ‘Before The Deluge’, which he said he sang once with Christy Moore in Liverpool, which was an amazing moment for him, and would have been even better had he not forgotten the words to his part that night. He then promised to do his best to remember it this time. He also covered Randy Newman’s ‘A Piece Of The Pie’ “not because I’m mentioned in it but because it’s a great song, which happens to mention me”. His ease on stage and his self deprecating stories made for a great connection between artist and audience, something that became more and more apparent as the evening went on. There was a cover of Carlos Varella’s ‘Walls And Doors’ which Jackson has translated from its native Spanish saying it’s a song that many of his countrymen needed to hear right now. He didn’t want to get too political but said he now “sworn off cable TV news because it brings me down to hear the name Trump”. The first set was wrapped up with great renditions of ‘Sky Blue And Black’ and Doctor My Eyes’ which saw the first big standing ovation of the evening (there were others sporadically during the night), but the first set ended to a great reception.

When the band returned, the show took on a slightly different form. Jackson had spoken to the crowd before, but this time there was more interaction, trying (and struggling) to understand what some people were saying to him, and also deviating from the set list a couple of time to play some requests (something that some of the band seemed unsure about at the time), but they relented and played ‘The Load-Out’, which Jackson said he couldn’t remember the last time he played, and later on ‘Rosie’, where the singer apologised for the line “she was sniffin’ around” saying he could never write a line like that anymore. There were more anecdotes, for ‘These Days’ abut some friends that were going on tour aiming to meet up and come to Europe with, but ended up being arrested in Mexico instead, and ‘Something Fine’ which he dedicated to someone he met when he finally did make it over to the UK. The second set seemed to fly by after Warren Zevon’s ‘Lawyers, Guns & Money’ and before long the and had departed again to another great response. The Encore may have only been a couple of songs, but when you have some thing like ‘Take It Easy’ (The Eagles classic which Browne co wrote with Glen Frey) and Our Lady Of The Well, you know you are sending your audience home happy. A well deserved standing ovation at the end for the near three-hour show.

As well as seeing Jackson Browne, his band were unbelievable. From long-time collaborator Greg Liesz swapping between instruments from song to song, to Val Macallum’s solos and the spectacular vocals of Alethea Mills, they all had plenty of moments to shine and they all had the spotlight on them whenever they were the lead in each of the 25 songs they played tonight, even before the introductions towards the end of the night. It was very much a band performance rather than a singer and a few hired hands, and that good feeling was everywhere in the spacious room tonight. A show I hadn’t expected to be at, I obviously knew of Jackson Browne before, but hadn’t heard a lot of his music (or so I’d thought before recognising a fair few of the songs during the show), but something I am so glad I saw, and has turned me on to investigate his back catalogue further.

Setlist: ‘Just Say Yeah’ – ‘The Long Way Around’ – ‘Before The Deluge’ – ‘Looking East’ – ‘A Piece Of The Pie’ – ‘I’m Alive’ – ‘For Everyman’ – ‘Walls And Doors’ – ‘Sky Blue And Black’ – ‘Doctor My Eyes’ – ‘Your Bright Baby Blues’ – ‘Late For The Sky’ – ‘Rock Me On The Water’ – ‘The Load Out’ – ‘These Days’ – ‘Rosie’ – ‘Something Fine’ – ‘Lawyers, Guns & Money’ – ‘The Barricades of Heaven’ – ‘For A Dancer’ – ‘In The Shape Of A Heart’ – ‘The Pretender’ – ‘Running On Empty’ – ‘Take It Easy’ – ‘Our Lady Of The Well’.

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