Sunday, June 12, 2016

Jackson Browne Captivates at Oakdale

Jackson Browne is an enormously talented singer-songwriter (and passionate social activist) who continues to perform excellent live shows. He & his band brought their summer tour to the Oakdale Theatre on Saturday, June 11. The set list was a solid mix of classics and newer material, including songs from his most recent release, 2014’s Standing in the Breach. Browne also performed a few requests that were shouted out by audience members, including a solid version of “Sky Blue & Black,” from 1993’s I’m Alive. In fact, fans were calling out song titles during the entire show, including Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" to which an amused Browne responded "Really?" But it's truly to his credit that he often takes a request from a loyal fan and runs with it. The band, consisting of Val McCallum on guitar, Mauricio Lewak on Drums, Jeff Young on keyboards & vocals, Bob Glaub on bass, Greg Leisz on lap steel & pedal steel guitar, and Alethea Mills on vocals, were nothing short of spectacular. They sounded tight, & very much in sync, and Browne offered them plenty of room for some incredible solos & spotlight moments. It was nice to see longtime collaborators Glaub & Leisz in the group. But everyone in the band was incredible. They are among the most talented musicians I’ve ever seen backing Browne.

Some other highlights of the two-set show included a beautiful version of “For A Dancer,” an amazing take on the Carlos Varela penned “Walls & Doors,” and the touching "Fountain of Sorrow." Of course, there were a few radio-friendly tunes sprinkled throughout the night (mostly in the second half) including a bring the audience to their feet sing-along for the one-two punch of  “Somebody’s Baby” and “Doctor My Eyes.” Those songs were followed by what I felt was the best performance of the show, a rollicking, rip-roaring run through of “Redneck Friend.” Browne’s been touring and recording a long time, and he knows how enthrall & entertain an audience; his between song intros & stories were excellent. His sincere & heartfelt appreciation of his fans shone through the entire night. The evening concluded with an encore consisting of another sing along on “Take It Easy,” the Eagles hit that Browne penned with Glenn Frey, a stunning version of “Our Lady of the Well,” and the Little Steven anthem “I Am A Patriot.” Definitely one of the best concerts I’ve seen in recent years. Browne & his band are on the road through August; it's a must see.

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