Concert review: Jackson Browne at the Lyric Oct. 21

Jackson Browne, the "Running on Empty" singer-songwriter, performed at the Patricia and Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric Friday night. Sun reporter Jay Hancock has this review.

A slightly croaky Jackson Browne played to a nearly full Baltimore house at the Lyric Friday night. With a generous set list - 23 songs - he varies his touring songs these days according to mood and request. The good news: You're likely to hear slightly different stuff than the people in the previous town.

The bad news: Some of the pieces were unpracticed and ragged, especially "Daddy's Song" and Zevon's "Mohammad's Radio." Plus, he had a cold or strained vocal chords or something. "Farther On" was a struggle. But sips of water brought the pipes back to life, and nobody seemed to care anyway. He hit the falsettos well on "Rock Me on the Water" and "Everyman."

It was the basic Browne solo show. Keyboard and, like, 14 guitars (played one at a time!). Arrangements pretty much tracked the studio versions, only without the extra musicians. Somebody requested "The Fuse" but Browne said he couldn't do it alone because of the overlapping vocal parts.

Cosmic, existential lines got applause from the predominantly white, (duh) boomer audience: "Nothing survives but the way we live our lives." "Somewhere between the time you arrive and the time you go may lie a reason you were alive, but you'll never know." Etc.

These days, he plays "These Days" with some kind of sour 7th chord at the end of the descending-bass hook. It sounds like the Tom Rush version. (I've never heard the Nico version.) Gone is the countrified, Gregg Allman-inspired heartbreaker from the "From Everyman" album.

Twice during "These Days" Browne briefly threw in the hook from "Song for Adam. He brought out a bottleneck slide for an open-tuning version of "Bright Baby Blues." Let's just say he's no David Lindley, but instrumental chops aren't why people love him. 

He changed the words slightly in "Running on Empty": "I want to know who you are but I'm running behind" instead of "I'd love to stick around but I'm running behind." He seems to be playing Little Steven's "I Am a Patriot" every show in this tour.

Friday night he prefaced it with: "I want to dedicate this to everybody who's occupying America tonight."

Setlist:

1. Barricades of Heaven
2. I'll Do Anything
3. Of of Wonderland
4. Farther On
5. For a Dancer
6. Giving That Heaven Away
7. Birds of St. Marks
8. Something Fine
9. Naked Ride Home
10. Rock Me on the Water
11. These Days
12. Everyman
13. Late for the Sky
14. Alive in the World
15. Here
16. Bright Baby Blues
17. Fountain of Sorrow
18. Daddy's Song
19. Shape of a Heart
20. Mohammad's Radio
21. Pretender
22. Running on Empty

Encore: 23. I Am a Patriot

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