Running on Empathy

Last night, I was part of the audience at a wonderful gig that took place at the Olympia in Dublin. The American singer Jackson Browne came on stage to a warm reception just after 8.00pm and, apart from a fifteen minute break, he played until just after 11.00. He was backed by a wonderful band with a tight rhythm section, a no-frills keyboard player, two female backing vocalists, and a versatile and accomplished guitarist. Browne himself is a brilliant frontman and musician and the quality of his singing and his energy throughout was amazing for a guy who turned 60 last year. And, to put the icing on the cake, the sound and even the visuals were top notch and contributed to a great night’s entertainment.

To be honest, I hadn’t heard a lot of the songs before as I’m mostly familiar with his 70s stuff. My friend John told me that he played seven songs from his current album and I quite liked many of them, particularly the one about going to Cuba. John also commented that the quality of the sound meant that Browne’s vocals were clear and so it was easy to make out the lyrics. This is important for someone who writes such great lyrics. For me, the highlights were the final two songs just before the encore: The Pretender and Running on Empty. The whole band pulled out all the stops and they certainly went out on a bang. Throughout the gig, he had expertly fielded requests from the audience, sometimes even changing the setlist following a frantic run around the stage to inform the rest of the band. A few songs into the gig, he asked how many people had been there the night before and the response he got suggested that many had come back for more. They certainly got their money’s worth.

After the gig, we met John’s neighbour from Kerry, Fred, and his friend, George. They also enjoyed the show and were amazed by the performance of everyone on stage. We thanked Fred for buying us dinner earlier (Thanks again, Fred!) We left them at the hotel and John drove me back to Limerick in time for a cup of tea and a sit down. On the way we were accompanied by the music of Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen and the spirit of John Martyn. Fortunately, John had filled up the tank and his iPod, so we weren’t running on empty

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
I look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running too

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