Live review: Jackson Browne with Dawes and Jonathan Wilson at the Satellite
The pop icon is backed by a younger generation of folk-rock performers during Wednesday's packed show at the popular Silver Lake venue.
Generations don’t always mix easily in rock. A shared purpose can make all the difference, as Jackson Browne, Dawes and Jonathan Wilson demonstrated during three hours of smart, sometimes fiery folk-rock Wednesday at the Satellite.
The years between them were essentially erased at the Silver Lake club, coming just weeks after Dawes’ headline show at the Orpheum, and a short stint backing up Robbie Robertson, another classic rock hero. With Browne, they share a lineage stretching back to the ‘60s-’70s folk-rock scene of Laurel Canyon, though Dawes filters that peaceful, easy feeling with a subtle postmodern edge, much as the Jayhawks did in the ‘90s.
Ahead of a joint “micro-tour” of Spain, Browne praised his young collaborators as something more than sidemen. “It’s a pleasure to play with these guys, who are themselves some of my favorite songwriters,” he told the packed room.
As the backing band of the night, Dawes was joined by singer-guitarist Jonathan Wilson, producer of the group’s two albums, and together they were a fully integrated, inseparable unit in their half-hour opening set. The music took elegant twists and turns, shifting easily from muscular Crazy Horse guitar spasms into something approaching a countrified “Working Man’s Dead” groove.
Onstage, songs were stretched out and energized, never meandering. Wilson’s “Valley of the Silver Moon” began with ominous Neil Young-inspired guitar, then drifted into passages of jazzier, Santana-like leads. As Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith sang longingly on “My Way Back Home,” he could have passed for a sensitive singer-songwriter in the mold of Gary Louris (Jayhawks) or Glenn Frey (Eagles) until he ripped into a roaring guitar duel with Wilson.
Dawes’ “Fire Away” would echo the classic Browne sound even if he didn’t appear on the recording from the band’s new album, “Nothing Is Wrong.” Browne stepped on stage during the song (after a brief struggle pushing his way through the rear curtains) in time to sing a few lines with the band.
Once there, the show focused mostly on Browne, who was in excellent form and voice at age 62, singing with the same youthful tones despite the years. “Late for the Sky” has grown only more meaningful with time, as Browne sounded wounded but not quite defeated, while Dawes and Wilson accompanied with restraint. He sang an equally moving “The Pretender,” with Goldsmith and his brother, drummer Griffin, singing rich harmonies.
Browne sang with a certain wisdom beyond his years in those early days, giving his career an ongoing theme of surviving the joy, pain and acceptance of the passage of time. He now shares that with Dawes and Wilson. “When I first moved to L.A., I moved to Silver Lake,” Browne wistfully told the crowd. “My house isn’t even there anymore.”
Photo: Singer Jackson Browne performs at the 4th Annual ''Event To Prevent'' benefit dinner and auction to benefit The Candie's Foundation at Cipriani's 42nd Street, May10, 2007 in New York City.
Credit: Evan Agostini / Getty Images