Jackson Browne, Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Famer, activist and possessor of three of Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all-time came to our little neck of the woods on Wednesday night. There all those who had grown up with Browne’s music congregated within the confines of the Nob Hill Masonic. Some wondered aloud if there would be an opening act, but instead the lights dimmed and out walked Browne with two band members. He started off with an unfamiliar song, but then went into the “Barricades of Heaven”.
After a couple songs Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes, surprisingly to those who knew he was, came out and played piano, organ, bass, back-up singer to Browne for the entire show. It was a fascinating dichotomy to see one of the preeminent voices in California 1970’s folk-rock scene and the descendant of that scene in the form of Goldsmith on stage with him. It made the night even better and it was already phenomenal.
The one gripe I had about the show had nothing to do with what was going onstage, but what was happening in between songs off. The crowd full of baby boomers that had imbibed on the Merlot a little too hard couldn’t keep their mouths shut and were constantly yelling out songs for Browne to play as if this were an episode of Who’s Line is it Anyway?. It showed poor form and awful concert etiquette. Granted he did say he doesn’t go up with a set list as he wants to keep it fresh, but that doesn’t mean everyone wants to hear the song you do. Just a note to those of you who don’t know how to act at a concert.
Other than that, the concert was phenomenal. Browne played for three hours with a short break after the first hour and a half and one encore. It was the perfect performance with the band playing every song people wanted to hear, and I heard every song yelled out. Another surprising twist was when Browne introduced Goldsmith, he encouraged them to buy Dawes’ previous two records and their upcoming third and had him play “Fire Away” one of Dawes’ best songs. Being a nice guy is one thing, but being overtly gregarious with your time onstage is quite another.
After the encore Browne came back and blasted into his classic “Running on Empty” then he played “Doctor My Eyes” and turned the Nob Hill Masonic into a PSA for People Against White People Dancing. I literally could have filmed the chicken arms, the knee bends and the fairy sachets through the aisles and you still wouldn’t believe how these white people were acting. It is safe to say that the coolest person at the Nob Hill Masonic on Wednesday was undoubtedly Jackson Browne. He was mellow and patient with an obnoxious crowd. He played the songs that these people wanted to hear and he was funny. On more than one occasion he mocked himself for flubbing a line here or there.
Jackson Browne, that ageless wonder, brought his brilliance to San Francisco and turned a civilized Merlot drinking crowd, that traveled from the outer stretches of the Bay Area (Marin, Mill Valley, Tiburon), into a crazed group of maniacs within a span of three hours. If every Wednesday were like this I’d be the first one to sign up, Jackson Browne is a God.