In the few times I’ve seen Jackson Browne in concert, I think it’s always been after David Lindley was no longer part of his road band. I do have a vague recollection of having seen Lindley perform as a sideman, for lack of a better term, at least once before but the brain cells with that memory were evidently seriously damaged or destroyed the same night or shortly thereafter. Either way, that made watching Browne and Lindley perform Saturday night at Sioux City’s Orpheum Theater even more special.
While Browne is world famous and has nearly a dozen platinum and gold record albums to his credit, Lindley always has been far too overlooked outside the music industry. I’d always heard he was a master of virtually every stringed instrument he picks up — and he proved that Saturday night. Roughly the first hour of the show was Browne and Lindley (or Lindley solo for two songs) playing acoustic. They opened with tunes from Warren Zevon (“Seminole Bingo”) and Bruce Springsteen (“Brothers Under the Bridge”) and produced what may be the best version of Browne’s “For Everyman” I’ve heard. Lindley’s use of an oud gave “Looking East” a wonderful slant.
During an intermission — which followed Lindley’s wonderfully played and delightfully humorous “Catfood Sandwiches” — I told my wife I would rather have the entire night continue to be Browne and Lindley playing together than with the full band. Boy, was I wrong.
Browne’s band has been together for a while and is very tight (with kudos especially to guitarist Mark Goldenberg and bassist Kevin McCormick). With Lindley playing lap steel guitar, fiddle and other instruments, it was even stronger. Although they opened with three songs from Browne’s 2008 studio release Time the Conqueror, the balance of the second set was a dream for those of us who have been fans for 30+ years. It not only included songs from Browne’s first five albums but three from 1993’s I’m Alive, which, over the years, has become one of my favorite Browne LPs.
Combine the setlist with a wonderfully receptive crowd, an excellent venue and an encore of extended versions of Lindley’s “Mercury Blues” and Steven Van Zandt’s “I Am A Patriot” and it was an enthralling night for someone who considers Browne part of their “musical trinity.” In fact, I know it’s going on my “most memorable” list.
Are you there?
Say a prayer
For the Pretender
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender
Title Cut, Jackson Browne, The Pretender