For a guy who named his latest album “Time the Conqueror,” Jackson Browne has held up well. Of course, the grey beard he sported on that record’s cover is shaved, and the white highlights of his straight pageboy haircut re-colored. So perhaps time has conquered the California man-child, but as Browne played on a warm night to a near-sold out house at Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion, he looked limber and sounded sharp.
After several years of touring alone in support of “Solo Acoustic Volumes 1 & 2” greatest hits collections, Browne’s out with a band this time, and a hard rocking attitude. There was nary a wooden guitar in sight. Though his two-hour set relied on a lot of material from the latter part of his career, the crowd didn’t seem to mind. In fact, the biggest ovation of the night came at the end of “About My Imagination” from the 2001 release, “The Naked Ride Home,” which showcased Chavonne Morris and Alethea Mills, two young vocalists Browne found in a South Los Angeles prep school.
Other highlights included “Lives In the Balance,” reworked with a new verse (sung by Morris), “The Pretender,” the rarely heard “Late Show” (an underappreciated gem from “Late for the Sky”), a spare “Jamaica Say You Will” and the encore, Browne’s cover of Steven Van Zandt’s “I Am A Patriot.”
It’s likely that many in attendance were unfamiliar with “I’ll Do Anything” and some of the other obscure nuggets Browne chose, not to mention the four songs he played from “Time The Conqueror” – a good record that, unfortunately, can only be heard on a few satellite radio stations.
The encore incorporated an Isley Brothers’ funk classic into the middle portion, which turned out to be a perfect representation of Browne’s apparent mood. ‘It’s your thing/do what you wanna do,” he sang, and did just that. He gently complained mid-set that the set list he chose never seemed to please everyone. So he chose to please himself. Fortunately, the audience was with him for most of the ride.