Jackson Browne Makes DeVos Hall Feel Like Home E-mail
by Kim Carson

Sitting in Row B, at DeVos Performance Hall, I wondered if I would be seeing the same Jackson Browne Acoustic Tour that I saw the night before I moved to Grand Rapids, 7 years ago. The answer to that question would be no.

For anyone who has never been to a recent Jackson Browne concert, there are no flashing lights, pulsating beats, dancers or costume changes. Just a beautiful man, sitting on a stage, sharing stories about what is important to him and what he has learned from some of life's lessons. It's called connecting. He does all of that and more, through piano, guitar, story and song.

When Jackson Browne took the stage, promptly, at 7:30pm and began to sing "Barricades of Heaven"; I knew, this would be as satisfying an evening as it was 7 years ago in Toledo, Ohio at the Stranahan Theatre. It was different for sure, but just as satisfying. The one thing in common though, is he never has a set song list. Each city's show is always fresh and completely different. He said he tried to do shows with song lists, but found it to be more interesting when he changed things up. Things like performing songs out of order and changing up the keys. That is the sign of a true artist, always wanting to keep it real and original, and organic.

In what turned out to be a 3 hour and 15 minute concert he showed us, 1) the voice was still as strong, 2) he still has a passion for what he does and, 3) he has managed to actually get better with age. He shared that it was funny what you remember about a town. For Grand Rapids, it was the river all around, and an odd memory of doing his laundry here 25 years ago.

After opening the show with one of his gorgeous, 18 acoustic guitars, each one tuned specifically for three or four of his songs; he took to his piano for "The Birds of St. Marks." He joked that the 18 guitars not only signified "guitar wealth" but that each also served a "specific purpose."

In between songs the audience would yell out their favorites, The Fuse, Call It A Loan, Rosie and Cocaine, just to name a few. He did perform a "rehab" version of Cocaine, where he changed the lyrics to reflect being clean and sober and wishing he had some of his brain cells back along with a few dead friends. He called Rosie the "saddest song I know" and when he sang the line, "she was sniffing all around like a half grown female pup", under his breathe he said, "I don't believe I wrote that line." For me, the concert was everything and more, than all of the past Jackson Browne shows I've attended.

True to form, Jackson Browne did not leave the stage without raising our awareness, as he did 32 years ago, with his participation in the No Nukes album. When he took to the piano he dedicated Rock Me On The Water, "to those struggling to protect out oceans."

All in all this was one of the most enjoyable evenings, and one of his best concerts. Sitting around, with some "30-something" and over fans, in an environment that felt like Jackson Browne's living room, bonded and connected by the music. It was a beautiful thing! (sidenote) It was no surprise to see Grand Rapids very own Ralston Bowles sitting up front, enjoying Jackson Browne with the rest of us. He is our little nugget of truth, keeping it real and raw in Grand Rapids.

Kim Carson - On-Air Personality at 100.5 The River 10am-3pm
Host of Faith Hope and Love Songs on The River.
Photos by Paul Jendrasiak


Published: April 22, 2011

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