The wide stage at Merrill Auditorium on Wednesday night looked like it might have been set up for some sort of parade of guitars. But no, the 17 guitars, standing in careful formation, were deployed for the benefit of still youthful legend Jackson Browne.

A few days short of his 63rd birthday, Browne’s been campaigning on behalf of good music and a few other causes for a long time. And he still appears to be all the way into it. Playing a variety of classics, newer songs and a couple of covers over two lengthy sets, Browne pleased the near capacity crowd, some of which felt compelled to periodically call out “We love you, Jackson.”

A fortuitous circumstance had Browne’s band guitarist Mark Goldenberg in town to back Madeleine Peyroux at the State Theater the following night. Goldenberg joined Browne on stage for a large handful of tunes and added a welcome second dimension to what was scheduled to be a solo performance.

Browne opened the show on solo guitar with “The Barricades of Heaven” before calling out Goldenberg for a duo take on “Giving That Heaven Away” where Browne’s distinctively plaintive vocal sound was set off by some effective six-string acoustic counterpoint.

“Nothing But Time,” a road song written here that references I-295, was a crowd favorite and finished with some nice jamming between the two guitarists.

Browne then switched to electric piano for a soulful “For a Dancer,” which he led into with some humorous musings about the subject of the song. The sustained tonalities of the keyboard gave it almost an organ sound at times, adding a spiritual tinge to several songs.

A Warren Zevon cover was mixed in as well as a rare instrumental: “Buck Dancer’s Choice” was dedicated by Browne to a local guitar store.

Browne finished the first set with “Rock Me on the Water,” which he prefaced with a plea of concern for the pollution of our oceans.

During the second set, Browne alluded to a personal tragedy by way of introducing the touching “Here,” written for his son. He then finished strong with a spellbinding solo take of “In the Shape of a Heart,” accompanying himself on guitar. Next came a switch to piano for “The Pretender.” Goldenberg returned for some slide work that reached its peak on the first encore: “Running on Empty.”

“Late for the Sky,” with Browne on piano, was the final encore in what was a very enjoyable evening spent with one of the best singer-songwriters of our era.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.