Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bruce Springsteen at the Spectrum, Night 2.

No song of the day today. My ears are literally still ringing from the Springsteen concert at the Spectrum last night and I just couldn't strap the old iPod on this morning.

The 59 year old Jersey boy did not disappoint. Great set list, covering every era of his career.

The aging faithful were there in mass, holding their tickets at arms length to see what section they were in. They were well rehearsed and knew when to raise their hands, when to shout Bruuuuuuce and just the right woo-hoos at just the right time.

The Spectrum was showing it's age as well. It was like the Cincinnati Who concert crush in some of the more confining areas of the single main concourse. Northbound running smack into southbound, god forbid you ran into a old friend in the crush as the crowd would yell at you to move on. The old place seemed like the coliseum in Rome with it's steep narrow concrete steps, especially on the second deck where our seats were. IMG_0986:Bruce Springsteen Last show at the Spectrum 29 April

A Springsteen concert is 1 part tent revival, 1 part James Brown show and 1 part rock and roll. It would not have surprised me in the least if he'd had an alter call or baptism at any part in the show. Next time we'll all be issued choir robes. We know all the words and there is no need to project them up in front like they do in church.

Clarence is also showing his 66 years. He had a big cushy chair next to him so when the lights went down , he sat down. He also had a stool up there. Sometimes he stood.

He sang everything with all he had, even on "Outlaw Pete", a song I did not know but Bruce sang with the same fervor as Born to Run. After the third number he reminded me of when I cut the lawn, sweat stinging his eyes and constantly wiping his brow. Never mind James Brown, Bruce is the hardest working man in Show Business.

He did not play Fever which I would have loved to have heard and have never heard live. Just about every time I've been to see him here in Philly, he played Fever the night before. On the other hand I usually get to hear Thunder Road so it's a fair trade off. One of these times I'm going to have to go the first night.

These were highlights of the show for me:

1. During the stump the band portion of the show when Bruce picked signs out of the front rows and chose "London Calling". He and Steven did a great Joe Strummer/Mick Jones thing while the crowd stood slack jawed and screaming. I later found it out it was all fake since London Calling was on the hand written set list.

2. When Jay Weinberg, Max's son took over on drums about 2/3 of the way through. It wasn't that Max was bad, but when the 18 Year Old kid got on the drums, it was crisp and snappy. He got on right before Radio Nowhere and did not stop on drums until the house lights came up. He was a machine. Whit all that old stuff around him, the old crowd, the old band and the old building - Jay stood out.

3. The Harry Kalas tribute and the following Thunder Road. Bruce actually does not sing Thunder Road any more as much as he accompanies the faithful who know ever line. We sing it.

Bruce didn't banter from the Mic very much, just a pitch for Philabundance, a local charity and who much he loved the old buildings that don't have all the fat cat luxury boxes. It makes sense since you don't have luxury boxes in church.

Pics here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen

It's an invitation painted on a background of spiritual themes: redemption, salvation and the promised land. It starts out slowly and gently, as if to invite you in and then builds to a rollicking crescendo complete with all of the E street band joining in. It has no chorus.

It's about loneliness, longing and getting out of the hick-town you grew up in.

It's about letting the wind blow back your hair, even when you have very little to blow back.

The opening song of 1975's epic "Born to Run" album was named for a 1958 film noir that Bruce Springsteen never saw. He had only seen the poster and liked it. He was also openly trying to emulate one of his rock heroes Roy Orbison, whom he mentions by name in the opening verse.

In the words of Steve Van Zandt, it's a mini-movie. You can see Mary and her dress and the old beat up porch on some house in Freehold. You can see the dirty hood, the graduation gown at rags at her feet and the lonely cool before dawn.

I still sometimes get a chill on hearing the opening piano and harp chords if I haven't heard it for a while. It never fails to bring me back to 1975 going to High School with a gang of guys in Joey L's 1968 Corvair with the 8 track of Born to Run and the unfiltered tick of the distributor reving with the engine RPMs mixing with the music out of the speakers.

This, if simply by shear numbers of versions on the iPod, has to be my favorite song of all time.