reviews so far
two shows are better than one

for setlist junkies

Not sure anyone cares about these, but some people (like me) are obsessive about this stuff, and I seem to have done them for most of the Bruce shows since I started this blog, so here goes. There's a few comments about the band members at the end, if you want to skip to that.

There were no tour debuts last night, although there were plenty of songs I was seeing live for the first time, primarily the Magic songs and Patti's. Here's the list:

Radio Nowhere: good song out of the blocks

The Ties That Bind: nice lesser-known "classic," 8th time I'd seen it, first in 8 years

Lonesome Day: first song of affirmation ("it's all right, it's all right, it's all right, THRUST HANDS IN AIR!"), 4th time

Gypsy Biker: gee-tar rave-up between Bruce and Steve

Magic: quiet song worked well. This is what some critics have seemingly missed ... three of the first five songs were from the new album, because that album has a reason for existing besides promoting a tour. If the album was irrelevant, they'd trot out a couple of the tunes in the middle of the show while everyone took a piss break. Bruce doesn't have to do that.

Reason to Believe: highlight of the night for me, and surprisingly only the second time I'd seen this one live (and obviously the first time I'd seen this arrangement)

Adam Raised a Cain: good oldie, Bruce cared which made it even better, 7th time

She's the One: this song absolutely NEVER fails, and it was great coming out of "Adam." 7th time

Livin' in the Future: I don't mind at all that Bruce makes "political" speeches in concert, and most of what he says here is on target. I just don't get the conclusion, where he says "we're gonna do something about it ... we're gonna sing!" That's precisely what critics of this kind of speechifying say: what good are you doing, you're just a singer.

The Promised Land: another good oldie that gets the fists pumping in the air, and the only Bruce song I ever heard Sleater-Kinney play (twice!). Non-SK times I've seen it: 17, making it the 4th-most-heard of them all.

Town Called Heartbreak: Patti's song is good, nice to see her exuding lead-singer stage presence for a song.

Backstreets: my fave, 9th time

Your Own Worst Enemy: this is where the complainers start moaning, because the show takes it down a notch too close to the end. What he's trying for is a slow burn to the set-closer. Whether it works for you is down to taste preferences, but I wasn't bothered.

Devil's Arcade: probably the best new song, well-done last night

The Rising: I don't have time to look right now, but I think I said during the Rising Tour that I didn't expect him to be playing many of that album's songs down the road. Well, he only played two last night. 4th time

Last to Die: most pointed (i.e. unsubtle) political song on the new album

Long Walk Home: great song, works in concert, has a majestic power, but admittedly comes near the end of the slow build and thus probably bothers those who don't like the sequencing.

Badlands: this blew the roof off, of course ... it always does. 18th time, #3 on my all-time list. It's not my favorite Bruce song, but it has always had the most specific, personal connection to my life.

Encore:

Girls in Their Summer Clothes: lovely song, lovely singing in concert, not a rip-roaring encore-starter

Thunder Road: played it like he meant it, which meant it wasn't just all right, it was a beauty. 19th time, #2 on my all-time list, and the first song we ever saw Bruce sing live, 32 years ago.

Born to Run: the defining song. It's the one I think of as "our song" ... Robin plays coy, she knows we have "a song" but she never comes right out and says this is it. It is. I haven't missed her so much in a long time as I did when they played "Born to Run" last night. Someday, girl, I don't know when. 20th time, #1 on my all-time list.

Dancing in the Dark: not quite the crazy neo-punk version of the early-80s, but closer to that than to its original form ... Bruce plays the Joe Strummer Memorial Veg-o-matic Guitar, minus the pogoing. 7th time.

American Land: I thought this was a fine set-closer ... the words were projected on the video screens, although we were so close we barely looked at them all night. Musically, it's an upbeat stomper, although not quite a rocker ... Danny and Roy both played accordion, and Steve trotted out his mandolin. 1st time.

Overall ... this isn't setlist stuff, but as good a place as any to put it ... the individual band members, from stage left to stage right, just as Bruce introduced them. Patti had a good night, her song was just fine and warranted its place in the set. The Professor hid behind his piano as usual ... it was really weird to see him out front with an accordion at the end. Soozie has been a great addition to the band ... her violin adds a wonderful extra element, she fits in well with the others, of course she and Patti have great rapport when they manage to find themselves in the general vicinity of each other (they go way back, those two). Steve ... I guess nobody calls him "Miami" anymore, heck, no one calls him "Little Steven," it's all about Silvio Dante now. With a more restful Clarence, Steve has become Bruce's primary onstage foil, and you can feel all four decades of their friendship in their interaction. Garry W. Tallent is the least-noticed member of the band, so I just want to note that his melodic bass playing is always excellent, and always unnoticed. The Mighty Max is what he is, a human metronome, the third-most-famous member of the band, star of late-night tellyvision, and my guess is that next to Clarence, he is the happiest that the shows are shorter than they used to be, because the drummer never gets to take a break. Nils doesn't get many showcases, and even Bruce has noted how odd that is ... when Bruce and Steve are raving away on "Gypsy Biker," as good as it is, you can't help but think how bizarre it is that the best player technically is over in the corner, spectating. Now-ya-see-him, Now-ya-don't Danny is one of the lesser players in the band, I suppose, but it's amazing how much of the E Street sound revolves around his organ. He's got the perfect job, one that maximizes his strengths and truly makes a difference.

Last, but not least, there's the Big Man. Not to be sacreligious or anything, but fans love Bruce the way Catholics love Jesus. Clarence, we love him in a different way. He's just there ... it's not irrelevant that he's the only black member of the band, the camaraderie he shares with the band and especially with Bruce makes an obvious but meaningful statement ... he is an icon, the only one in the band outside of Bruce. He's the guy on the cover of Born to Run. He's the man who played the solo in "Jungleland," which I've said before has earned him his place in heaven. And so when he walks across the stage, we love him, and when he plays the tambourine to keep busy, we love him, and when he steps out for a solo, people start cheering before he's even played a note, and after his solos, which are generally effective but simple, people cheer and shower him with more love. And now that he and we are getting old, he is somehow representative of the end of the road ... one that hopefully won't come for any of us for a long time, but last night, every note he played, we appreciated, the way you appreciate anything all the more when you know the time is coming that it won't be there any longer.

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