Jackson Browne and Lucius Bring Classic and Indie Rock Together at SPAC
It was a humid Friday night in Saratoga Springs, where people of all ages were buzzing in anticipation for a throwback experience from singer/songwriter Jackson Browne at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. “Have you seen him before?” was one of the questions floating around the amphitheater and the responses varied from person to person. Many different dates of shows spanning from the early ’70s and onward came from the mouths of dedicated fans, proving the long-lasting impact Browne has had in his career. The show started right on time at 7:30 p.m. with the Brooklyn-born indie pop band Lucius.
Lucius opened the show with a chilling a capella rendition of “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” with the women fronting the band wearing matching red ponchos and body glitter on their faces and palms. Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig stood around one microphone at center stage facing each other and immediately caught the attention of the crowd with their powerhouse harmonies. Though the stage setup allowed for the singers to be intimate and have a clear way to communicate cues for each other, it took away from the audience engagement and closed off a relationship fans desire from a live performance. The one microphone did aide the duo in creating a fading or floating audio and visual effect during their last song “Woman” which played with the depth of the dynamics of the song nicely. The show heavily featured the two fronting ladies, however, the group consisted of three other band members playing their share of instruments, swapping between percussion and guitar frequently. Jackson Browne joined them in the middle of their half hour set to perform “Willin’,” entrancing the amphitheater with their three-part harmonies. Lucius released a compilation album of their back catalog, new songs, and a duet with Roger Waters in 2018 called Nudes.
Loud cheers from women and men alike echoed through the walls of SPAC when Jackson Browne and his band took the stage to close out the show with an impressive two hour set. Browne’s performance was filled with many of his classics that were easy to sing and dance along to even if you didn’t know the words. “Take It Easy,” which Browne co-wrote with The Eagles, was the second song in the more than 20-song set and it brought everyone to their feet. Browne’s easy-going vibe on stage seemed to take the edge off the heat and provided a relaxing atmosphere after the excitement of the 4th of July the day before. Browne joked about his age after there was a guitar mix up, saying to the stagehand, “I think you brought me the wrong guitar,” followed by the stagehand coming back out with the supposed right guitar and a sense of confusion. After a few seconds of conversation and bending down to read the setlist, Browne admitted that he was wrong and that he should have brought his glasses with him on stage. Many of Jackson Browne’s songs relate to immigration and issues that America deals with today. He played songs such as “Walls and Doors” that was written by Cuban singer/songwriter Carlos Varela and “Lives in the Balance” which were both in reference to South America and its culture. “Lives in the Balance” featured a very soulful performance from one of Browne’s backup singers, Chavonne Stewart, whose beautiful voice brought new life to an old classic. Lucius came out to help Browne on the last four songs and it was the perfect climax of vocal harmony and instrumental genius. The two acts were clearly very close and the respect and love for one another made for a really enjoyable performance.
Lucius setlist: A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes (Ilene Woods cover), Tempest, Right Down the Line (Gerry Rafferty cover), Something About You, Go Home, Turn It Around, Willin’ (Little Feat cover), Two of Us On the Run, Woman
Jackson Browne setlist: I’m Alive, Take It Easy, The Pretender, Enough of the Night, The Long Way Around, Tender Is the Night, You Love the Thunder, These Days, Mohammed Radio (Warren Zevon cover), The Dreamer, Lives in the Balance, Walls and Doors (Carlos Varela cover), Doctor My Eyes, Somebody’s Baby, I’ll Do Anything, In the Shape of a Heart, Running on Empty, Dusty Trails (Lucius cover), City of Immigrants (Steve Earle cover), I Am a Patriot (Little Steven cover)
Encore: The Waiting (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover)