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Jackson Browne at the satellite with Dawes and Jonathan Wilson on Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

The last time I saw Jackson Browne, I was 500 miles away!’ said a young woman on my right, ‘It’s amazing’ said another one, ‘Why? Because it’s such a small venue?’ Yes people were in awe to be so close, knees against the stage, touching the piano Jackson was about to play, taking pictures of the setlist already taped on the stage. ‘Tonight it’s all about Mohammed's Radio’ said a friendly guy behind me, he seemed to be so excited to hear that particular Warren Zevon’s song, and it turned out that Jackson Browne did 3 Zevon cover that night during the first encore, ‘Play it all night Long’ and ‘Lawyers, Guns and Money’!

We waited for a long time in front of the stage, but I had arrived so earlier, I hadn’t seen the very long line that had formed in front of the Satellite, and it took quite a while to get all these people in the small club. Jackson Browne is still a big deal in 2011? Sure he is, especially when he is playing such a small place, surrounded by the brothers Goldsmith of Dawes and Jonathan Wilson, an amazing band who were about to give to people what they were expected.

When Dawes finally took the stage around 10 pm, they started to play some of their songs with Jonathan Wilson, who, a little later, explained they had refused to play until we were all inside the club. A long wait but it was worth it, front row, standing just below the mic, in this intimate venue, it still is the only way I truly appreciate concerts.

Even though I was not really familiar with them, it was so easy to like Dawes and their happy-melancholic Laurel-Canyon-country sound, their tunes were half odes, half anthems, which started like slow and peaceful ballads having soaring vocal harmonies developments. They sure sounded like something Jackson Browne could have written with a heartfelt song like ‘My Way Back Home’, or a more stretching-country one like ‘Fire Away’. And I was fascinated by Griffin Goldsmith’s funny faces during his drumming, making the weirdest twists with his mouth, living the music and the lyrics to their fullest.

Jonathan Wilson played ‘Valley of the Silver Moon’ one of the songs of his album ‘Gentle Spirit’, which sounded really different from Dawes material, (although he produced Dawes’ two albums, as well as many others in the indie world from Rilo Kiley, Johnathan Rice, to J. Tillman of the Fleet Foxes). The very long tune was expanding towards other territories with deserted Neil-Young-esque landscapes, melancholic vocals, and long jams that were almost coming from a Santana’s jam session.

But Dawes and Wilson were not really there to open for Jackson Browne, rather they were his backing band, and they were only playing their 4th song when Browne stepped on stage, singing the harmonies with them, before taking one of his numerous guitars to play his first song ‘I’m Alive’, so well received by the audience. And he was there to please everyone, as the set turned out to be a series of best of, with hits like ‘Your bright baby blues’, ‘Late for the Sky’, ‘The Pretender’, ‘These days’, ‘Take It easy’, ‘Running On Empty’.

Jackson was visibly happy to be there, saying he had never thought he would have the chance to play there – as apparently, he comes to the Satellite to see bands – and his interactions with Taylor Goldsmith, and especially Jonathan Wilson, were those of a man in complete confidence that his songs were about to receive the best possible treatment despite the generation gap: Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith are respectively in their early twenties and late teens while Jackson is 62! But age couldn’t matter less on Wednesday night, as Jackson Browne praised them and their songwriting skills, evoking a mini tour in Spain they were preparing for.

He switched to keyboard for ‘Fountain of Sorrow’ and the next two following songs, outpouring even more emotion to the crowd helped by the band’s skillful guitars, and with a voice that hasn’t really changed over the years. He was addressing to the crowd as an ex Silver Lake resident, saying he had moved to Silver Lake when he first moved to LA,… he was one of us, among us.

‘I have never seen Spaceland so quiet before’, he said before playing ‘The Pretender’, (Spaceland being the old name of the place); people were listening religiously, and this s true that many of his songs have that hymn/prayer-like quality, a sort of harmonizing gospel the band was stretching a long time with more guitars, drums and organ.
The perfect night had a minor glitch, a problem with an acoustic guitar, quickly fixed by guitar fairy himself (Wilson) as Browne put it.

If the first encore was all Warren Zevon, the second one did highlight Wilson and Dawes, with one more song of Wilson’s ‘Gentle Spirit’ album he sang with a breezy voice, a Little Feat song and they closed the night with Dawes’ ‘Strangers Getting Stranger’. They apparently had a hard time to leave the stage, living the music to its core,… they could have play it all night long, as this Warren Zevon’s song says.

Setlist

I’m Alive
Barricades
Your bright baby blues
Fountain of Sorrow
Late for the Sky
The Pretender
Tender is the night
These days
Take It easy/Our Lady
Shakey Town
Running On empty

1st Encore (3 Warren Zevon’s covers)
Play it All Night Long
Mohammed’s Radio
Lawyers Guns and Money

2nd encore
Jonathan Wilson’s song
Long Distance Love (Little Feat cover)
Strangers Getting Stranger (Dawes)

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