Jackson Browne gratefully takes requests during sold-out tour closer at Cain Park’s Evans Amphitheater
Anything can happen on the last night of a tour.
Lucky for us, when venerable singer-songwriter Jackson Browne wrapped up a 20-date summer trek with a sold-out concert Wednesday evening at Cain Parks Evans Amphitheater in Cleveland Heights, anything went.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer had a set list. But it soon went out the window, as Browne did his best to honor impromptu requests from the audience.
It means an awful lot that you come here and call out for my songs, he said.
In the middle of the show, he sat down behind a baby grand piano and tickled the ivories tentatively. He soon thought better of it, grabbed one of the dozen-plus acoustic guitars onstage and serenaded us with In the Shape of a Heart, his 1986 hit concerning a dysfunctional relationship. A fan had called out for it earlier.
Throughout the two-hour performance, Browne switched between guitar and piano, where he got down to business with Black and White and Standing in the Breach, an understated yet powerful new tune inspired by the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
At 63, Browne still flaunts a crystalline tenor equally suited to big-picture calls to action or poetic introspection, although he experienced a senior moment during The Naked Ride Home, from his 2002 album of the same name. When he forgot the lyrics, those crickets that incessantly chirped in the background suddenly got louder.
Each time I sing it, I remember less of it, Browne said, laughing off the flub.
He had no trouble remembering the words to a well-rounded offering of much older favorites, including signature tunes such as The Pretender and Running on Empty and deeper cuts such as Your Bright Baby Blues, Shaky Town and Sleeps Dark and Silent Gate.
He reached back to his self-titled debut, released 40 years ago, for no fewer than four selections: Rock Me on the Water, Something Fine, Child in These Hills and a spirited shuffle through the Top 10 breakthrough Doctor My Eyes.
His lean and mean backing unit was anchored by drummer Mauricio Lewak and graced by the stellar musicianship of guitarist Val McCallum, who got to shine on a romantic charmer of his own, Tokyo Girl.
Opening act Sara Watkins, a fiddle-playing singer formerly of the bluegrass group Nickel Creek, also proved to be an inspired addition to the bill.
She got a warm introduction from Browne, who sat in during her set on You and Me, Take Up Your Spade and a shimmering cover of Willie Nelsons Im a Memory.
Watkins and her bandmates — her brother Sean on guitar and Tyler Chester on keyboards and bass — returned the favor during Brownes performance. Their lively accompaniment put a fresh spin on the likes of Live Nude Cabaret and Ill Do Anything.
A surging encore of Take It Easy brought fans to their feet and culminated in hoedown mode, with the Watkins siblings trading hot licks. Browne wasnt the only one looking on with a smile.
Black and White
Standing in the Breach
Call It a Loan
The Naked Ride Home
Your Bright Baby Blues
Rock Me on the Water
Doctor My Eyes
Child in These Hills
In the Shape of a Heart
Sleeps Dark and Silent Gate
Live Nude Cabaret
The Late Show
Ill Do Anything
Running on Empty
Take It Easy