Jackson Browne Offered Warm Nostalgia in the OC: Jackson Browne may have written (and later recorded) Eagles hit “Take it Easy,” but Jackson Browne sure ain’t the Eagles. There are similarities of course — an earthy take on the singer/songwriter style that seamlessly blends Americana and rock into something palatable to multiple audiences. But any of the accusations of inauthenticity and anti-edge (right or wrong) that get thrown in the Eagles’ general direction don’t apply to Browne.
Over the course of this “An Evening With” show that runs for about two hours (there’s a break in the middle so we can’t remember exactly), Browne’s lyrics see him go after the NRA, the GOP, racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia — all of the things worth going after.
In the classic tune “I am a Patriot,” he makes it clear that he loves his country, but not at the expense of other people. The word might have been bastardized, confused with “nationalist” by many, particularly under Trump, but Browne spells out exactly what he means when he sings it.
We say all of this because some younger listeners might have a preconceived notion of what and who Jackson Browne is, yet his history of activism is well worth digging into. The man is a national treasure.
The set at the Pacific Amphitheatre (where there was no opening act, incidentally) was wonderful — a career-spanner — that saw him tell stories in-between as he recalled life in Fullerton (where he attended high school). Browne’s love for his audience, his band and his material all shone through as he treated us to one warm, lush, flawlessly performed gem after another.
“Somebody’s Baby” was the ideal opener — Browne and the band just strolling on stage at exactly — EXACTLY — 7:30 p.m. as scheduled, and ripping right in. “Downhill from Everywhere” takes aim at the right wing with beautiful accuracy. Towards the end, the triple punch of “The Pretender,” “Running on Empty” and “Take it Easy” is staggeringly good.
Through it all, his crowd sings, applauds and just listens adoringly. They know exactly who he is, and they love him for it. There might not be a sonic edge to Jackson Browne, but the man is a fighter and we love him for it.
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