REVIEW: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band @ Spectrum, 10/19
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REVIEW: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band @ Spectrum, 10/19
This video encapsulates why Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are the greatest performers in pop music history (thanks to YouTube user TheMagikRat).
What you missed: On the Working on a Dream tour (that's this one), Bruce and the boys have been taking requests in the middle of each show. How do you take requests at an 18,000 seat stadium like the Spectrum? Fans bring posters declaring their favorite songs and he gathers them up, reads them out and decide what he's going to play. These songs can range from rarities ("Thundercrack") to covers ("London Calling"). It's not just people in the pit, though. It's everyone. Even up in the 300 levels you can see people holding up their poster board signs.
Before this song, some dude asked for "I Wanna Marry You" (off The River), which Bruce hadn't played with the full band since '81 (You could tell, they had to practice). Then in the middle of the Spectrum, this guy got down on knee and proposed. Nellie, I don't know who or where you are but you are one lucky bitch and I will envy you until the day I die (or until my future fiancee proposes to me at a Bruce show).
That's when Bruce picked up the sign that read "All Shook Up." They hadn't rehearsed it so Bruce was hesitant. But Elvis requested so he had to do it.
But first we had to wait for Stevie Van Zandt to teach the chords to Bruce. Springsteen made 18,000 fans, who were decidedly loosing their shit waiting for what was to come next as Little Stevie went over it with him. Bruce and Stevie had a great chemistry throughout this show, especially, sharing the mic more often and playing off each other. Maybe because they played "Two Hearts" to solidify their BFFship in one of the few remaining, yet soon-to-be demolished, rock houses. As my concert compatriot Natalie said, "It's like being in a basement as your buddies rehearse." But whenever you see the Boss play, you're in Bruce's house.
Figuring out that he just wasted a bunch of time learning a song solely because he felt like it, Bruce knew that this one had to be good. And that's when he let Elvis up onstage.
- No. Seriously. Some guy came decked out in full Elvis regalia, powder blue and gem-studded.
So here's Bruce Springsteen, arguably the musician with the greatest staying power of the pop music era, who had little kids holding up signs that said "I know all the words," who had oldster couples dancing wildly in the pit, ceding the stage to some douche in an Elvis costume.
I love how nervous Elvis is in the beginning. Sure, you're the King, but he's the Boss. You can see him shake and Bruce's face just says, "Go for it, man." Look at the rest of the band's faces. They're cracking up. Nils Lofgren (right behind Elvis) can barely keep it together. Even Mightyy Max, who usually drums with a look of pure determination, is cracking a smile like it's The Late Show and he's only backing Conan rather than his real Boss.
After a more than admirable performance, Elvis hands it back to Bruce who shreds it out. Remember, he's working with two amazing touring guitarists ' Stevie, who orchestrates every song, and Lofgren, who also does time in Crazy Horse ' and he can still let that one loose at the point of a finger.
And then Elvis switches songs on them! Not only have the E Street Band not rehearsed "All Shook Up," they immediately pick up on "Blue Suede Shoes!" And Bruce lets him keep going!
But that's what makes Bruce great. The fans yell "Bruuuuuuuuuce," but what they really want is a show. He understands that he doesn't need to be the center of attention all of the time. He's both a gracious and humble performer even though his band bares his name. It's why he takes fan requests. It's why he plays three-hour long sets. It's why he also introduces the band, even the random back-up singers no one cares about. It's why he bows to Clarence Clemons ' his sideman. And no one in the pantheon of legendary performers will ever understand that as much as Bruce.
"I have no idea where the fuck he came from." Yeah, Bruce. Me neither.
More notes with the setlist after the jump'
When You Walk In The Room (first since 1976!) ' Natalie told me he was opening with "Wrecking Ball," the same song he played to open up the Giants Stadium shows, with new words about cheesesteaks and South Street and stuff. I'm glad he didn't.
Two Hearts 'See note 5 about BFFship
My Love Will Not Let You Down
Hungry Heart ' Bruce was supposed to give this songs to the Ramones but Jon Landau, his manager/guru, told him to keep it for himself. I'm glad he did but I would've loved to hear the Joey/Johnny/Dee Dee/Marky version. At one point, 60-year-old Bruce pogo'd like a punk rocker spinning on speed and it made up for the fact that I'll never get to hear it come through Joey.
Working On A Dream
Thunder Road ' I didn't cry at all during "Thunder Road" this time. Seriously. I didn't. I just had something in my eye.
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out ' Preceding the line "When the change was made uptown and Big Man joined the band," referring to God-with-a-sax Clarence Clemons, Bruce said "Now for the important part." Bow down to the Minister of Soul! And read his book!
Night ' I think is one of the most important songs in the Bruce oeuvre because it looks at the distinction between work and play, which is essentially the reason for the rise of the celebrity and low culture art. With the advent of the weekend, people had the free time to explore their interests outside of providing for their family, be that at the concert hall, the movies or in front of the radio/television. Bruce has his fanbase because he can couple the idea of escapism with this labor/free time dichotomy but he does it in vague enough terms that you can appreciate whether you work on the highway or ' ahem ' at a certain alternative weekly. I could keep going'
Backstreets ' Yeah'I totally cried during this too.
Born To Run ' He's played it at every show I've seen. It never gets old.
She's The One ' Hey Future Non-existent Fiancee from note 2: You should probably also sing this song to me if you ant me to say yes.
Meeting Across The River ' Bathroom break. Boring. I still hate this song.
Jungleland ' Epic.
Waiting On A Sunny Day
Raise Your Hand
It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City ' Got to the check this off of the Must See Live list. Requested for the Phillies, who were losing at the time (I asked someone the score when I was in the bathroom) and later won. Coincidence? I think not. Jimmy Rollins must be a Bruce Springsteen fan.
I Wanna Marry You ' See note 2 again.
All Shook Up ' Um, were you paying attention on the first half? Read it again. There will be a test.
Badlands ' "It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive."
No Surrender ' This is a sentimental favorite simply because of I have the best No Surrender friend a girl could ask for.
Land Of Hope & Dreams
American Land ' I love he always does this song. Soozy gets to do it up on the fiddle and they always look like they're having such a good time.
Dancin' In The Dark ' 'And just when you thought it was over'
Rosalita ' You know those shots of screaming girls who faint whenever they see the Beatles or Elvis or Gerry and the Pacemakers because it was their only sexual outlet before the widespread use of birth control and repression of the female? You know how you look at them and think, "Oh my god, is that all they had to live for? Their passion is frightening, disconcerting and somewhat unnecessary." I've seen Bruce Springsteen and the pants-droppin', heart-stoppin', love-makin' Legendary E Street Band my fair share of times. After each show, I gush for days about how it was the greatest show I've ever seen. I have never felt like one of those Beatles girls until last night. Until this:
You Can't Sit Down ' A cover of Philly's own Dovells which features the line "When you're on South Street / And the band is really bootin'," which is backed by the title repeated over and over again. "You can't sit down! You can't sit down!" You better believe it.
Hopefully pictures of the wonderful Anna Smith tomorrow!
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