Jackson Browne Concert at Syracuse's Landmark Theater
Jackson Browne, a singer-songwriter who came to prominence in the 1970’s, is still a consummate musician who can command the stage with nothing but a guitar, microphone and of course his voice. There was no band, instead there was a large rack of guitars (from which he would choose randomly) all in a row. There was also a piano. There was no opening act and once or twice an additional musician appeared and played the guitar, accompanying Jackson when he was playing the piano. Jackson was illuminated in carefully selected triangular beams of colored light that slashed the blackness of the vast stage. The hue of the lights often reflected the mood of the song.
Although the production may have been spare, there is nothing spare in Jackson’s talent. As he sang songs from his impressive recording career in no particular order you began to grasp the importance of his contribution to the American pop and rock scene. His songs often address the dangers of materialism, yuppiedom and the conformity of suburbia; but Browne’s reflective lyrics never distract the listener from his great harmonies and melodies. Loss and grief are also themes Browne writes and sings about, providing a glimpse into his own personal sadness and the loss all of us have felt.
In the era when rock concerts resemble Cirque de Soliel performances, with a lot of flash and no real music, this concert was a fresh and moving experience. Browne’s performance completely engaged me throughout and I walked away with a heightened appreciation of his music. The only negative part of this concert was the boorish audience members who kept yelling out titles of his songs as well as other inarticulate utterances that were distracting and rude. Browne mentioned several times that he couldn’t hear half of what the audience members were saying and it was moot for them to yell titles. The ridiculousness of the situation was exemplified when audience members actually yelled out titles that Browne had already sung. When Browne mentioned the duplicate titles with an ironic laugh it didn’t stop it from happening again. Luckily, the obnoxious people kept quiet during the singing and only yelled annoying stuff between songs. Still, there is no excuse for bad manners.
Check out Jackson Browne’s rigorous concert schedule and other information, on his website.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016, Watertown, NY