I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT.
Mr. Springsteen rules.
That was my original quick post. If I knew better, I would leave it at that.
But I don’t. This is not a review, but rather a collection of thoughts about the show. Whether I am qualified to review bands I know is debatable, but I do not know the Springsteen canon well and was unfamiliar with the E Street extravaganza. The only time I had seen Bruce and the band previously was in 1976; I have often said about that show: “I really enjoyed it, but the earth didn’t move (given the hype).”
Well, the earth moved Thursday. You could argue that was bound to happen with umpteen semis full of equipment, with 17 people on stage, with a packed amphitheatre. But the bottom line is this:
Nobody worked harder and nobody enjoyed himself more than Bruce Springsteen.
And I have to believe that is the case every night. He puts musicians half his age to shame. It was a stellar show, two hours, then a 45-encore, and finally an acoustic ‘Thunder Road” to send the faithful home. WOW.
Bruce kicked the show off as only he can, honoring International Workers Day and “the union men and women” by playing an acoustic “Joe Hill.” And from that moment on I was swept into the vortex of music and emotions and elation.
I had no idea about the sign thing. You tour vets know. Bruce occasionally forayed to the edge of the stage to pluck song selections from the dozens and dozens people held up in the pit (and let me just say what a blast it was to be standing in the pit with Spencer!). Then he would hold the sign up for the band to see, indicating what the next tune would be. Beyond showing his true respect for his fans, this demonstrated just how astounding the E Street Band was. Bruce showed a sign and shortly provided his segue between songs: THREE FOUR! and launched into the tune shown. The band hesitated not for a nanosecond. (A cynic would say he was picking signs for songs already on a predetermined setlist; my guess is that a few fell into that category, but that in no way dampened the incredible mood.)
26 songs.8 covers. And what covers! You want a range? How about the Weavers to the Clash? “Mary Don’t You Weep” (Fisk Jubilee singers) and “Gloria” (Them) stood out for me. And Bruce is one of the few people who can actually get people to ‘shush’ during quiet acoustic tunes.
Best earworm ever – for the next two days – for a song he didn’t even play!
“Mister, I ain’t a boy; no, I’m a man…”
“High Hopes” – Havalinas cover
“Brothers Under the Bridge” – magnificent tune about returning Vietnam vets
“The Ghost of Tom Joad” – studio recording is OK, but in concert this was as powerful as any song all evening.
Jake Clemons as The Big Man, perfectly played
Max Weinberg – I have never seen a drummer work harder.
Nils Lofgren – because he is Nils (and that hat!)
Bruce leading most of the band on a New Orleans stumble out into the vending area (and returning with a drink somebody handed him!).
Bruce plucking a lady from the audience for “Dancing in the Dark.” I don’t care if he does this every night; I was crying. And every time I tell somebody about it.
I was glad the band did not come back out after their encore closer, because nothing on this planet was going to top “Shout.” Absolute perfection.
Are there bands I like better musically? Yes.
Are there bands that can match this performance? NOT EVEN CLOSE.
NOW I understand WHY they call Mr. Springsteen THE BOSS.