Jackson Browne, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fivestar -->

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There's something dashing about Jackson Browne - the neat physique, the pretty-boy looks and floppy hair. At 57 the poet of Californian angst maintains a youthful aura, in keeping with the clear-eyed observation that runs through his songbook.

That songbook was refined in his last solo London show, but tonight he moves up several gears. Accompanied by Lindley, perhaps the best sideman in the business, Browne revels in the collaboration.

From the opener "I'm Alive" Lindley is the perfect foil for Jackson's straight approach. If the lyric offers pained contemplation ("Lives in the Balance") then Lindley offer graceful gilding on a violin. When Browne's guitar spells foreboding ("Too Many Angels"), Lindley counterpoints with bright brush strokes.

Spanish percussion player Tico De Geraldo struggles to match the teeming range of colours worked up by Lindley. With a set that covered Browne's entire career thus graced a heartening continuity marks his work. Familiar themes, such as characters awakening from a sometimes-wilful slumber, unite "Late for the Sky" (1974) and "Barricades of Heaven" (1996) with Lindley's delicious Dobro licks storming the pearly gates on the latter.

As well as providing a seemingly endless supply of instrumental wizardry Lindley proves a droll raconteur and front man in his own right. He gives a deadpan reading of one of five Chinese translations of Browne's most lucrative composition "Take It Easy", adds hysterical female falsetto to a cover of Mickey and Sylvia's 1957 calypso rocker "Love Is Strange" and relates how the late Warren Zevon, a mutual pal, once used his beloved .44 Magnum to shoot a cockroach ("and he hit it!").

Most impressive is the way that even regulars in Browne's set - "The Pretender", the sing-along encore of Maurice Williams and The Zodiac's "Stay" - are transformed. Lindley's tender and attentive style can range from comic relief to deeply graceful counterpoise, his concern always to extract maximum meaning - and emotion - from the song rather than his own formidable talent.

Like many stars of his era Browne seems to have found a life outside of the major label treadmill. More power to him; maybe he should take the opportunity and record his next set of original songs as a partnership with diamond Dave.

All the signs are that it would make for something very special indeed.