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September 07, 1980 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-09-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

4

ARTS

Page 6

Sunday, September 7, 1980

The Michigan Daily

Jackson takes it easy live

a

By DENNIS HARVEY '
Jackson Browns offers the rare
pleasures of articulateness-as the self-
appointed spokesman for our
generation's Everyman, he's consisten-
tly been one of the best lyricists around.
Browns was the fine-honed conscience
of the early '70's singer-songwriter
boom, and was among the few with the
talent to survive its glutted peak and de-
cline. Like Joni Mitchell-But
with a more reassuring down-to-
earth, less intellectual approach-he
appealed to an audience anxious to sur-
vey the wreckage left after the '60's and
escape the depressing fall of main-
stream rock and roll. With calmed,
disarming straightforward intelligen-
ce, his first four albums voiced
everyone's regret over the past,
shrugged over the dissatisfactions of
the present, and cautiously hoped for
something better than simple survival
in the future. Concerned and rueful
without pessimism, Jackson in these
early years was a wise innocent-a
clear-eyed observer, like a less
mystical version of the title character
in the first LP's "A Song for Adam."
Brown's transition from a largely
acoustic sound to more of a rock stance
was tentatively managed by the hugely
successful, live Running On Empty
disc-a fine set of songs, but with the
possible exception of "The Road's"
exhausted melancholy, lacking the
careful observation of the previous ef-
forts. Jackson without depth was cat-
chier-a party album (well, sort of), for
the first time-but less interesting. The
change still seems tentative on the new
Hold Out album. The LP isn't exactly
overproduced; it's just that as' the
production gets bigger and slicker, the
artist becomes increasingly like
everyone else. He still has
his signature sounds (the swelling-
inspiration organs, David Lindley's
violin and lap steel guitar), but Brown
has never been regarded most highly
for his compsoing skills-it was always
his verbal outlook that seemed most
distinctive and affecting-and now that
the music is in the foreground, it's
becoming apparent that it's still best
suited to the background.
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TUESDAY NIGHT'S concert at
Crisler may not have been resolved the
problem of where Jackson can go in the
'80's, but at least it set the dilemna
aside for a while. Browne isn't a very
exciting live performer-the crowd
stayed politely seated furing even the
strong encore and the emotional peak of
the inevitable "Doctor My Eyes"-but
he puts on a thoroughly professional
show of finely crafted music. That may
not be quite enough, but it's a good deal
nevertheless.
The set was pretty much the usual
greatest-hits-live assortment, though
Browne has an advantage in that his
most popular songs are often his most
detailed and ambitious. The occasional
trite tune came off well, because a
routine piece of upbeat pop-rock
wallpaper like "You Love the Thunder"
has a basic appeal than can be more
easily exploited in concert than more
complex, reflective songs. The new
material-virtually every cut on Hold
Out-was dutifully trotted out, to
variably effect. Browne's facility with
rock is still severely limited. "That Girl
Could Sing" starts off with a strong riff,
but having accomplished that, it goes
no further and stumbles into driving
monotony. He doesn't know how to
build on his foundations, how to take a
good idea to its logical peak.
"Boulevard," probably the hookiest
song in Browne's catelogue, manages
to work up a fair head of steam and hold.
on to it, and as a result came off well in
concert, as did the depressingly titled
"Disco Apocalypse," which can't quite
escape pretentiousness on record but
thumped through loudly and suc-
cessively on stage.
THE BAND-Russ Kunkel on drums,
bassist Bob Glaub, pianist Craig
Doerge, David Lindley, Bill Payne of
Little Feat on organ-was a superb
unit, delivering the expected series of
standards without a whit of musical
flab. While Jackson held the spotlight
rather limpidly, all the intensive
moments of playing were provided by
band members. Doerge, in particular,
provided a dazzling solo during "Before
the Deluge," without the sort of
Liberace theatrics that most pop-rock
bands (Pablo Cruise's keyboardist-the
Bruce Jenner of the ivories-is only the
worst I can think of) would indulge in.
The sole note of unnecessary (but
forgiveable) musical flash came from
backup singer Rosemary Butler, who
shook her goods like Chaka Khan, and
sang with a lot more heat than this
generally mellowed evening could
Daily Classifieds*
Get Results!
Call 764-0557

4

Jackson Browne and his seven-member band appeared at Crisler Arena Friday
night, playing all of the new material off his current "Hold Out" album, along
with the expected list of older hits, including "Fountain of Sorrow," "Everyman"

and "The Pretender."
easily allow. Her admittedly enjoyable
excesses only made the flaccid disin-
terest of male backup Doug Haywood
more disconcerting.
The evening's most welcome event
was^ its opening-the Pretender
album's masterpiece, "The Fuse," a
whirling, circular meditation on The
State of Everything, and one of the few
Jackson Browne compositions with a
truly exhilerating tune to back up its
typically thoughtful lyrics. The most
disappointing was the lack of any
significant acoustic interlude-all we
got was Jackson on guitar and Lindley on
violin for the totally unnecessary but
acceptably amusing "Cocaine," and
entertaining throwaway song (with a
nice deadpan vocal) but hardly worth
the rapturous response it got-and why
this over all of the fine acoustic ballads
in Browne's repertoir?
There was also a note of embaras-
sment in this otherwise respectable
night. Browne is to be commended for
trying to liven up what must be, by now,
a thoroughly predictable evening for
his band with some visual aids, but the
efforts that are currently onview leave
much to be desired. Some rather tackey
backdrops are unveiled at various poin-
ts during the set-a highway-into-in-

finity during "Running on Empty,"
that sort of thing-but the worst was a
triple-screen set-up that jerked down
from above several times. The concert
version of "Before the Deluge" was
fine, and Jackson's anti-nuke intro.
managed to be casual enough to avoid
preachiness, but what didn't pass
muster was the faintly ludicrous slide
show of nuke plants, protestors,
politicians, mushroom clouds and
(gulp) beaming, innocent children's
faces, all intended to make our hearts
swell with concern. Leni Riefenstahl,
Jackson ain't.
This misguided interlude failed to
rise above the standard of the usual
pseudo-stirring pictorial cliches that
accompany the national anthem on TV
at 3 a.m. Later, during "Boulevard,"
another Montage appeared, this time
showing a succession of punkers, con-
sumers, haunted faces. Modern
decadence? Our lost brothers and
sisters? Whatever the effect was inten-
ded to be, it failed to come off. The
screens were finally used to introduce
each band member, with accom-
panying cute pictures of each-too
much like the glossy chic clowning of
those Saturday Night Live opening:
credits, and inappropriate in the con'
text of a concert by Jackson
Browne-his sincerity has usually
seemed to place him beyond this kind of
frivolouscommerical foolery.

Yes-TONIGHT ONLY at Old A&D Aud.
BEACH BONANZA DOUBLE BILL
AT 7:00 ONLY. IT'S
SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROCK
with FATS DOMINO and JOE TURNER and ROCK COOL CATS out to convert
squares. And
IT'S A BIKINI WORLD
9:00 only. Join TOMMY KIRK and THE ANIMALS as they muscle their way
through the surf. Wear your 60's beach garb.

CINEMA GUILD

MOVIES FOR 30 YEARS
AND STILL AT OUR PEAK

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