Jackson Browne’s harem of 15 guitars formed an acoustic corner on the stage of the gracious Paramount Theater Wednesday night. Browne explained that the guitars’ presence wasn’t for his own vanity, but for different tunings of each instrument.
“The songs live inside them, like they’re in their little houses. They’re ready in case somebody calls for a song,” he said. “It’s not solely to strike envy into the hearts of guitarists.”
Browne opened with “Black and White.” He worked his way buoyantly through two hours of hits and deep tracks from his expansive canon that reaches back four decades.
After a fan requested “Father On,” Browne abandoned his guitar for his piano and belted a ponderous solo. When the audience followed suit, shouting a cacophony of song titles — as Browne’s fans tend to do — the Rock-and-Roll Hall-of-Famer chuckled and said, “This is good. This is good. These are all my songs.”
Browne’s numinous songs hinge on some of the most literate lyrics. He’s a consummate musician; and many of his old songs sparkled with new arrangements, varied cadences and an ever-changing collaboration of players. On piano or guitar, Browne nailed solos, duets, trios and held the core of the virtuoso band on stage, including the powerful Sara Watkins, who opened the show.
The collaboration wound down with Browne’s anthem, “Running on Empty,” prompting the Boomer crowd up to their dancing feet. Noble favorites, “For a Dancer” and “Rock Me On the Water,” sealed the dazzling show.
Returning for a second encore, Browne blanked on lyrics to “Before the Deluge.”
“That’s just unforgiveable,” he muttered.
But the transfixed crowd did not confront him with his failure.
Colleen Smith—the author of the acclaimed novel “Glass Halo” and the gift book “Laid-Back Skier”—contributes regularly to The Denver Post and heyreverb.com.
Todd Radunsky is a Boulder-based photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.