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Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 12:09 am | Fair 49º


John Conroy: Jackson Browne Keeps It Casual with Hometown Crowd

He plays mostly to audience requests during a sold-out concert at the Arlington

Santa Barbara favorite and part-time county resident Jackson Browne stopped home briefly Friday night to entertain a sold-out crowd at the Arlington Theatre.

The rock legend and singer-songwriter performed solo-acoustic with 16 guitars and an electric piano. He began the evening with “Jamaica Say You Will” followed by “Something Fine,” both from his first album, Saturate Before Using.

The intimacy of the Arlington Theatre made it feel as if we were in Browne’s living room being entertained. Between songs, he would walk to the row of guitars and begin to pick out a particular model, when someone from the audience would call out a song and Browne would turn and pick out a different guitar. Then another song got called out — “For a Dancer” — and he instead sat at the piano and began playing that request.

It was that simple and that casual. Browne remarked that this was a “tour with no set list,” and he seemed to thrive on the audience members calling out songs for him to play. He was accommodating by playing several, if not most, of those that were requested.

He played several songs from the Saturate Before Using album. In addition to the two mentioned previously, he also performed “Rock Me on the Water” and “Doctor My Eyes,” which was quite the accomplishment solo and acoustic, as this is normally a rock-out/full-band type of song.

“Rock Me On the Water” was a real standout as the song was preceded by a Browne narrative. If you have been to a Browne solo show, you know that each song is set up by him telling a story — a la “Storyteller.”

He told of a trip last year to the Galapagos Islands with several environmentalists and oceanographers. They were there studying oceans after years and years of pollution and over-fishing. He spoke of how we take the ocean for granted, including here in Santa Barbara, and how if we don’t turn things around we won’t have oceans in the future. He said he wants to do away with plastic bags. Does that sound familiar, Santa Barbara? The ocean and seeing it cleaned up is Browne’s new campaign platform. We can all relate to this. It gave “Rock Me On the Water” whole new meaning.

In the second half of the concert, Browne summoned longtime friend and Santa Barbara County resident David Crosby (who was in the audience with his wife, Jan) to come forward and sing a song with him. After a lot of coaxing from the audience, Crosby obliged but swore he would get back at Browne down the road.

After trying to retune one of Browne’s guitars and failing, Crosby said he could play a song on a “standard” tuned guitar. There is nothing “standard” about Crosby or his guitar tuning! He played “Carry Me” but forgot the verses. The crowd helped with the words, and Crosby got through it. Crosby followed this with his signature song “Guinnevere,” always a crowd-pleaser.

It was a fun night for all. Thanks, Jackson Browne, for having us over.

Other notable songs from the show were:

Our Lady of the Well
For Everyman
Late For the Sky
For a Dancer
Before the Deluge
The Pretender
Running On Empty
Barricades of Heaven
Shape of a Heart
Lives in the Balance
Life”ll Kill Ya (a Warren Zevon song)

— John Conroy is a contributing photographer and writer for Noozhawk. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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