Jackson Browne Plays Amazing Emotional Show at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater
Clyde Jackson Browne (yes, that’s right) is one of America’s most prolific songwriters of this century! Jackson is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame and has received numerous humanitarian awards for his activism for many causes over the years! He brought his band and his musicianship to Ruth Eckerd Hall for a 3-hour musical feast! He kicked things off solo on guitar with a cover of a Warren Zevon song, “Don’t Let Us Get Sick.” An anthem of sorts for the boomer crowd who are moving toward old age. The band joined him onstage for the 1996 “Some Bridges.” He said, “he decided to do a summer tour inside,” which got a laugh and several “Thank You” shouts from the Florida crowd. He told stories between songs about everything from people he knew over the years to where he was at the time when he wrote a song.
The “Half-Band” has Greg Leisz (Family Watkins, Bob Weir) on lap steel and guitars along with his wife, Mai Leisz, who played with the late David Crosby, was on bass. Mauricio Lewak on the drums, with singers Chavonne Stewart and Alethea Mills, who have been with Jackson for some 20 years. This band is so good; they add more to already great music. There were no big screens, no light show, just mood lighting because none of that is needed at a show where music is the star. Jackson, Chavonne, and Alethea gave a powerful performance of “Until Justice is Real,” which he dedicated to civil rights activist Fannie Lee Hamer, who was a leader in women’s rights. He said he spent some time looking at the photos backstage of the many artists who have played at Ruth Eckerd Hall and said it was “Intimidating.” His humbleness took the audience aback, with someone yelling, “You’re the Greatest,” that erupted into applause.
He closed out the first set with three big tunes, The Pretender,” “Doctor My Eyes,” and “These Days,” which always makes me think of Gregg Allman and his version of the tune. They took a 15-minute intermission and returned to bring us more great music, starting with “Farther On,” “For The Dancer,” and the great “Late for the Sky” Jackson was switching between guitar and piano depending on how he wanted to play it. The upbeat country-flavored “Redneck Friend” was a big hit with the crowd. He joked about a feminist friend giving him grief over writing the song “Somebody’s Baby” and then playing it with gusto. Browne, at 74, sounds amazingly like his 30-year-old self. He did change the order of the setlist to make a request after so many people were yelling requests at him. He said,” They want it now, not later!” He also shared about losing his long-time collaborator David Linley and other friends recently.
He closed the night’s second set with “Take It Easy,” written with his long-time friend, Glenn Frey of The Eagles. The audience was out of their seats at this point in several standing ovations. Next came “Rock Me On the Water” and “Running On Empty.” Everyone singing every lyric! The “Running On Empty” album is a classic and one I played grooves into! I was patiently waiting for the encore of this tour; I knew it was coming, and in all the years I have seen Jackson, I have never seen it played live! He returned for the encore singing a cover of Little Steven’s “I Am A Patriot”! What a great song for the times we live in! It brought a tear to my eye. Check it out on YouTube. Jackson concluded with my long-awaited live performance of “Load Out/Stay,” dedicated to the roadies! One of the best songs written about a touring musician’s life! A Jackson Browne show evokes so many emotions from his amazing storytelling. We are lucky to have lived in an era to experience such musical genius from an intelligent, humorous, and humble songwriter. What a show! Jackson is heading to New York City later this month to play several nights at the Beacon Theatre! All the tour dates at Jackson Browne.
Photos by Vicky Sullivan