Sydney Opera House
Saturday 28th March 2016
Jackson Browne is no stranger to Sydney having had his son live in our town for a long time, and his return after 7 years ensured that the SOLD OUT sign at the Sydney Opera House was well and truly displayed.
Having played at Byron Bay (Bluesfest) the night before, Jackson arrived in town with a full band in tow, Shane Fontayne (guitars), Greg Leisz (lap steel, pedal steel, guitars), Jeff Young (keyboards), Bob Glaub (bass), Mauricio Lewak (drums) and Jackson’s new best young friend Alethea Mills on backing vocals.
As expected tracks from the new album “Standing in the Breach” featured prominently throughout the set and most if not all of these 10 songs got included in the night’s proceedings. Many patrons throughout the night were vocal in calling for Jackson to play old favorites, to which he graciously obliged, but his agenda was clearly to get the new music heard and a chance to extend his band into new territories.
Shane Fontayne is an exceptional guitarist of many flavors and Jackson was clearly relishing the chance to play with his old friend. It had been 9 months since Jackson and Shane had played together and no-one would have known had Jackson not made that announcement as such. Shane was kindly borrowed from Graham Nash for this tour and Jackson’s delight was there for all to see.
Greg Leisz was also exceptional on the lap steel guitar and for me Greg and Shane stole the show, if that is possible, not taking anything away from Jackson’s flawless performance and vocals.
Jackson Browne has always championed a cause and his own explanation of calling his songs “rock essays’ was an apt way to describe the content of what he sings so passionately about. Songs about the worrying state of our oceans, current politics in America, rebuilding schools in Haiti after cyclones and Winslow Arizona made for a great evening of new thinking man’s tunes performed to perfection with Jeff Young adding great backing vocals alongside the youngest member of the band Alethea Mills.
Jackson Browne is still clearly enjoying himself and told the Sydney audience “I really am enjoying playing guitar at the moment and have played many more shows this year than I usually do”. The Sydney crowd clearly enjoyed listening to him also and there were several standing ovations throughout the night’s concert.
One of the highlights of the show was when Jackson performed “For a rocker” as he laughed and commented that “The band don’t know this one so let’s see if we crash and burn”. As a musician it must be fun to play on a knife's edge and the rendition of this old song was fantastic. Hats off to Shane Fontayne who absolutely nailed it with a virtuoso guitar lead break.
Many of the old faithful songs also got a look in and “Rosie” and "Running on Empty” went down particularly well as Jackson Browne took to the piano to perform these tunes. A thoroughly enjoyable night over several hours and let’s hope that it is not another 7 years before his return.