Jackson Browne: running on full at Britt

JACKSONVILLE — Jackson Browne opened his first Britt show in over a decade with Warren Zevon and Carl Hiaasen's arch "Seminole Bingo," of all things, a 1995 number that could be ripped from today's headlines. That was after Browne remarked on the absence of chainsaws, a reference to the timber industry supporters that greeted him and Bonnie Raitt by revving the snarling tools of the trade throughout the environmental benefit the two singers put on that night.

Browne, still trim and boyish at 61, was joined at the top of the show by old pal and guitarist (and all things stringed) extraordinaire David Lindley, for a warm, acoustic set. The two men have collaborated for almost four decades. Lindley played on 1973's "For Everyman" and other Browne classics including "Late For The Sky" and "The Pretender." Browne, in turn, produced Lindley's best-known album, 1983's "El Rayo-X." They show little or no signs of slowing down.

For Bruce Springsteen's "Brothers Under the Bridge," a song about homeless vets, Lindley sang lead with Browne chipping in the high harmonies. Then Browne sang and Lindley played slide licks that felt almost furry the way they wrapped around Browne's

"For Everyman" developed/rambled in that soulful, winding way that is Jackson Browne's strength/signature/flaw, depending on your taste. After a somewhat desultory "Looking east," Browne took a break while Lindley dusted off some of his best Blind Willie Johnson chops on the likes of "What is the Soul of Man?"

The last time Browne and Lindley toured together was four years ago, so they can be forgiven for giving the impression of a couple of dudes having too much fun. The recording documenting that tour, "Love Is Strange" (Inside Recordings), a double live set, came out in May.

The two began this summer with a month-long European tour, then launched the present American tour last week at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and will wind it up on the East Coast next month.

Browne returned after a break with his band of almost 20 years, plus singers Dannielle Deandrea and Alethea Mills for nearly two hours of the thoughtful, laid-back, politically conscious, angst-ridden, L.A., nice-guy, soft rock that is his bailiwick. He said that "Givin' That Heaven Away" was inspired by — but was not about — a girl he knew. This was part of a rap about hanging out with old friends a lot during a recent swing through California.

"The funny thing about time is it keeps coming back around," he said mysteriously, leading into "Time the Conqueror," from the recent album of that name, which gave the girls a chance to show off their pipes a bit. "In the Shape of a Heart" was more soft pop played and sung to perfection. These are well-crafted little pop tunes, but after several in a row a certain sameness crept into the show.

Which was banished with "Your Bright Baby Blues," with Lindley re-joining the band and scorching the stage and Browne singing like he meant it. "The Pretender," with Browne on the keyboard, was convincing and sweetly rocking.

"Fountain of Sorrow," one of those poetic songs based on an indelible image, showed Browne to still be a cool customer even when belting out his best epiphanies. Warren Zevon's "Carmelita" was the band at its funkiest, driven by a to-die-for Lindley solo on acoustic guitar.

"Too Many Angels" seemed like it went maybe too many minutes. But late in this laid-back show "Doctor My Eyes" finally got people up and dancing. "Mercury Blues" raved and revved its irresistible way down that old rhythm road. Does anybody ever do a bad version of this old chestnut?

The set ended with a rousing "Running on Empty," which the band may have been by then, although probably not, and certainly not the crowd. They demanded an encore, and the band came back and obliged with a long, sweet version of the reggae-inflected gospel anthem "I Am a Patriot."

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