Monday, August 18, 2014

Concert Review: A Night to Remember

Unlike the good old days, last night the concert hall did not reek of marijuana. Instead it was filled with excitement, packed with the borderline rabid fans who love the performer like a mother loves her first-born. Jackson Browne, unlike any other musical act I've seen live in concert--and that's a whole lot-- drives audiences wild with adoration, and the crowd at Portland's Merrill Auditorium was no exception.

The Guitars.
Plaintive shouts of, "We love you Jackson!" rang out continually during the more than two solid hours of incredible music, punctuated by an occasional, "You're so cute!" and "Come to my house later!" from a quartet of middle-aged women behaving badly seated a few rows behind us.

Onstage, a line of 23--we counted--guitars stood at the ready, each one tuned and in key for a specific song. An eerie haze created by an overachieving fog machine and nine bright red and purple spotlights suspended from the ceiling upped the level of excitement and expectation to an almost fever pitch. When Browne walked onstage, promptly at 8 pm, the wild cheering from the fans--all instantly on their feet, clapping, hooting, whistling and hollering--went on full bore for what must have been five minutes. Browne was clearly touched by the overwhelming show of affection and thanked us all profusely, then grabbed a guitar and started singing. And as a mother's lullaby instantly calms a crying baby, everyone shut the hell up and listened.

The Performer.
At two months shy of 66, Browne has maintained his boyish charm, flowing locks and engaging personality. Joking easily with the audience like we were all just hanging out together, he chatted amiably between each number, often at length, explaining the song's significance or recounting a funny anecdote related to it. Those of us sitting very close to the the stage could see that he has indeed grown older, and at times the weird, almost ghoulish lighting showed him to be frankly worn and wrinkled. His voice too has aged, now tinged with a raspy quality not present in his youth. But the sounds emanating from his guitar and from the keyboard were as pure as ever, maybe even better, literally sounding like liquid gold filling your ears.

The Audience.
Shuffling back and forth between instruments, Browne joked about how he had not planned his set in advance and so was open to suggestions. The more raucous audience members greedily shouted out requests, and as often as not he obliged immediately.

As he himself said the last time I saw him in concert, it's not all that important what songs he plays or in what order, since "they all sound exactly the same." But last night one in particular--"In the Shape of a Heart"--was rendered so beautifully, his voice perfected by that point in the evening and his guitar so pure, with lyrics that could make a grown man sob, it seemed as if Jackson Browne might just be the greatest performer who ever lived.
In the Shape of a Heart
It was a ruby that she wore
On a chain around her neck
In the shape of a heart
In the shape of a heart
It was a time I won't forget
For the sorrow and regret
And the shape of a heart
And the shape of a heart
I guess I never knew
What she was talking about
I guess I never knew
What she was living without
People speak of love don't know what they're thinking of
Wait around for the one who fits just like a glove
Speak in terms of belief and belonging
Try to fit some name to their longing
There was a hole left in the wall
From some ancient fight
About the size of a fist
Or something thrown that had missed
And there were other holes as well
In the house where our nights fell
Far too many to repair
In the time that we were there
People speak of love don't know what they're thinking of
Reach out to each other though the push and shove
Speak in terms of a life and the learning
Try to think of a word for the burning
You keep it up
You try so hard
To keep a life from coming apart
And never know
What breaches and faults are concealed
In the shape of a heart
It was the ruby that she wore
On a stand beside the bed
In the hour before dawn
When I knew she was gone
And I held it in my hand
For a little while
And dropped it into the wall
Let it go, heard it fall
I guess I never knew
What she was talking about
I guess I never knew
What she was living without
People speak of love don't know what they're thinking of
Wait around for the one who fits just like a glove
Speak in terms of a life and the living
Try to find the word for forgiving
You keep it up
You try so hard
To keep a life from coming apart
And never know
The shallows and the unseen reefs
That are there from the start
In the shape of a heart




5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete