Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Boss

The Beautiful One and I got to see Bruce Springsteen last night, and lemme tellya, he's as intense a solo performer as he is with the E Street Band. The setlist was pretty unique--see here for the complete lists for the tour--Springsteen unveiled 6 "tour debut" songs, opening not with "Reason to Believe" for the first time as well. His thoroughly deconstructed versions of the two "Nebraska" songs ("Reason" and "Johnny 99") are sung with near-unintelligibilty through a mic not made for vocals, making them sound like nothing other than severely scratched old 78s from somebody's Appalachian attic, "Johnny" especially coming across as a wild blues song that way. Given the setlists so far, this would have easily been the one I would have wanted to see. My own personal highlights were "The River", "Racing in the Street", "All the Way Home", and "Tougher Than the Rest", all done on piano except for "All the Way"; all but "Racing" debuts, luckily. "All the Way Home" was marked by some terrific rhythm playing, as Springsteen seemingly discovered how to distill an entire band's worth of sonic energy into one guitar.
The Beautiful One was inspired by some of the newer songs as well. "Reno", "Jesus Was An Only Son", and "Matamoros Banks" all benefit from live presentation, as do the cuts from "The Rising". His Christian upbringing is infrequently covered in his writing, but he found a way to introduce the topic of Jesus Christ that can be appreciated by anyone. "Jesus Was An Only Son" looks at the story (in a timely manner) of his crucifixion from the standpoint of his relationship with his mother. "Long Time Comin'" was an instant fave for The Beautiful One.
Bruce's singing was phenomenal, as he unleashed some of the most beautiful falsetto wails from "The River" on through the rest of the set. The raw emotionality of these performances makes one wonder how on earth he does it night after night, year after year. This man has a passion unquenched by either personal upheaval or triumphs, which is a rarity in the music biz, imho, and the standards he sets by his live act are tough to beat. Each time I see him, I am left pleasantly drained, uplifted, and anxious to see him again, because there is no way he can keep this up forever, is there? An amazing show!
As The Beautiful One pointed out, Springsteen has the kind of patriotism we should all have. His support for the forgotten and forlorn, especially in times of national crisis, informs both his songwriting and his between-song chatter, making him a true heir to the populism of Guthrie and Seeger. Like Dylan before and beside him, though, the man has to rock as well, even if it's just solo, and the music world is all the greater because of it . . .


Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:45 AM  
Blogger bryduck said...

P.S. Celebrity watch: Matthew Perry, Willie Garson, and Robert Patrick were at the show (at least).

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Jason M. said...

An excellent review of (what sounds like) an excellent show. Man, I wish I could've been there. I think only truly great songs can be deconstructed and reconstructed. And (most of) Bruce's songs are truly great. I'm currently rediscovering "Darkness on the Edge of Town". Outstanding. Long Live Bruce!

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Jason M. said...

I think TBO is exactly right. We should all be patriots like Bruce. A great point.

12:48 PM  

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