28 March 2009

Legend

"Never heard of him". That's what my twenty six year old work colleague Emma said when I told her I was going to see Jackson Browne in concert last night. The venue was Sheffield's magnificent Oval Hall in the beautifully refurbished City Hall building in our city centre. Of course, I had heard of Jackson Browne. His songs first came into my life back in 1973 when my younger brother Simon lent me his first album - "Saturate Before Using". I have bought every other album since but only once before had I seen him in concert - in Nottingham five or six years ago.

This time, now sixty years old, Jackson Browne brought a band with him. It was a very tight band which skilfully enhanced the songs in a well-reherased set. There was Kevin McCormick on bass, Mark Goldenberg on guitars, Mauricius Lewak on drums and Jeff Young on keyboards and vocals. Back in 2001, Jackson met two black students at an LA high school concert and later drafted them into his musical circle as backing singers - Chavonne Morris and Alethea Mills. The overall sound quality at last night's concert was brilliant - balanced and clear with band members working together as a team with egos suppressed.

We were sitting on the front row - me and Simon. In A7 and A8. Supposedly the seats had a "restricted view"but I didn't notice any resrictions. It was great to be within twenty feet of the Southern Californian legend himself.

Jackson comes across as a pleasant, self-deprecating man with a healthy sense of humour but with a mission to deliver his repertoire as effectively as possible. He brought in songs from his new album "Time the Conqueror" but loudest applauses were for old favourites such as "Doctor My Eyes", "These Days", "The Pretender", "Fountain of Sorrow" and the foot-stomping "Running on Empty" which had most of the audience up out of their seats jigging to the music. After long and sustained hand clapping, wolf whistling and "More!" yelled from the auditorium, he returned to give us a smashing and heartfelt rendition of ""Before The Deluge". It was a really brilliant and uplifting concert.

As a wordsmith, a teacher of English and a lover of words, I have always found Jackson Browne's well-crafted lyrics particularly appealing. There is humour there, humility, anger, awareness of beauty, metaphor, memory, political protest and tenderness. His voice has a resonance to it which is plaintive and true, giving oxygen to words which perhaps when seen as mere text lose some of their poetic power. It is arguably only when they're linked with the writer's voice and his tunes that they get up and grab you.

I love the opening of "The Pretender" which seems to me to be partly about the heroism of ordinary working people living their unremarkable routine lives - "I'm going to rent myself a house/ In the shade of the freeway/I`m going to pack my lunch in the morning/ And go to work each day/ And when the evening rolls around/ I`ll go on home and lay my body down/ And when the morning light comes streaming in/ I`ll get up and do it again/ Amen/ Say it again/ Amen" Here he was in Seattle last September:-


Thank you for visiting Sheffield Mr Browne. But next time come round to our house for a cup of tea.

10 comments:

  1. Deirdre7:04 am

    OOOhhhhh....I have loved 'the pretender' for so many years...it always brings a lump to my throat...and somehow his voice and those words make me like people again when so often these days I don't find much to like in mankind.....

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  2. Incomparable. What I like too is the hesitation and the consummate control he has over his timing.

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  3. Ah yes..the naked ride home...

    I too have seen him in an intimate concert here in Brisbane - and he made it feel very intimate - a ski lful entertainer, but I have also seen him in a very small unplugged concert at the Sheraton ballroom Kauai with Graham Nash, Cosby, Nicolette Larsen, Russ Kunkel and others, which was a real treat...
    I really like his music but can never get the fact that he broke Darryl Hannah's finger when she threatened to leave him, out of my mind. Also he has skinny, lily white puny legs... Sorry Jackson...

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  4. P.S. I don't know if it's just me but I can't read the white font in the new look posted comments ...

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  5. Deirdre4:45 am

    Mr Beef gravy....apropos of a remark you made earlier in the year about your skill on t'internet..can you help me? Want to take my niece (19) and daughter (18) to New York in late June for 4 days...I am going MAD with spending hours on this machine...need a clean safe hotel for us three girls(!)..have you been? can you recommend somewhere? sorry to ask but I am now nearly cross eyed with looking and you sprang to mind!!

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  6. Deirdre4:52 am

    me again....I am SO sorry to have just asked you that..you must think me terribly cheekly....I think I need to walk away from the machine for a while!! a cup of tea calls........

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  7. Deirdre
    I am assuming you are English.Why not investigate the Days Hotel (Days Inn website) on West 94th Street and Broadway or perhaps the Econolodge on West 47th Street. The hotel I stayed in in New York six years ago is apparently no more. The NYC Econolodge would be just the job for you I think - very close to Times Square and reasonably priced. You could have the three of you staying in the same room - two double beds. For extra security if you snuggled up, I could join you! To me Manhattan seems so safe compared to certain areas of London or Manchester. You'll have a great time. NYC feels like the navel of the world! Don't forget to stroll through Central Park on a sunny day - it's free and wonderful. Also try Expedia and Booking.com.
    Regards,
    Mr Pudding

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  8. No matter how good he is you can never trust anyone with two surnames

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  9. Deirdre8:54 am

    Oh you are a true gentleman sir...have narrowed it down to just a few to look at now...thank you for your response...
    as for the security ....are you SIA badged!!

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  10. Deidre,
    Well they trust me with this truncheon so I guess I am SIA badged yes. Glad to have helped you with your hotel quest. Sadly the £-$ exchange rate isn't as good as it was in the early naughties!
    Mr P

    ARTHUR Jackson is his first name you twerp!

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.