Friday, May 30, 2008

They Aren't Booing

From the late 70s through the end of the 80s I was privileged to see any number of fine artists in concert, often in venues small enough to truly appreciate the experience. I pretty much stopped going to shows as the 90s rolled around, mostly because it cost so stinking much. And really, when you once paid $8 to see The Police (and thought that was highway robbery), a minimum of $50/ticket just doesn't seem reasonable, especially if you're in a stadium and the band for whom you paid all that cash is so tiny that you are forced to watch the big screens behind them and for all that headache, not to mention finding parking, you'd be better served staying home and listening to the records.

There is only one artist I've seen in concert more than once and that would be the inimitable Bruce Springsteen. What is it about him, you ask? Pretty much everything. He's a story teller, for one thing: Jersey thugs, hot rods, pretty girls, screen doors slamming, hardscrabble kids yearning for something more. Springsteen sings of broken dreams and wistful hope, accompanied by the occasional '69 Chevy with a 396.

It's his compelling sound: guitar driven with surprisingly lush orchestrations. It's that the E Street Band is truly a band wherein Bruce has assembled musicians equal to or even better than himself and pulled all those gifts together in a unique sound. Unique? How many bands can you name that celebrate the saxophone and glockenspiel as much as the Telecaster? It's the fact that he's not afraid to go acoustic.

It's that he's managed to remain true to his "working stiff" roots and values, even as he's become hugely successful. It's also that he hasn't been content to rest on those well-earned laurels and has been willing to take chances and make musical experiments. You might not always like every record but you can't ever accuse The Boss of selling out.

Other reasons I like Bruce Springsteen: we share a birthday, I like his politics and he and Patti gave all three of their kids totally normal names.

Another thing about Springsteen is the level of showmanship he brings to every single concert. It was legendary even back in the '70s. Shows would go for an average of 4.5 hours and Bruce was on stage rocking it every single minute. When you paid for a Springsteen ticket you knew you were going to get more than your money's worth.

So you can imagine my chagrin when, one time, he ended the show after only 3 hours. What? Oh, sure, it had been a great show, with Bruce working it from one end of the stage to the other, teasing with the Big Man, singing and dancing til he was dripping. But a 3 hour Springsteen show was unheard of. Over beers after the show we speculated: could it be that he was finally selling out, getting too big, so to speak, for his 501s? Was new found commercial success destroying the Springsteen magic?

Turns out the man was sick with flu and had been performing with a temperature of 101°.

This is a clip from 1978, when he had lots more hair and fewer bouncers.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)"



Blogger sageweb opined...

3 hour concert? I can only think how bad it would have been to use the womens bathroom. Drinking beer listening to Bruce, then having to pee. 3 hours, that is atleast 4 trips to the restroom.

May 30, 2008 1:13 PM  
Blogger Doralong opined...

Loved him then, love him now- and no doubt always will. I'll be rolling around the rest home with Tenth Avenue freeze Out jammin' on my iPod..

May 30, 2008 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

You know when my love for d'Boss started? When I found out that he recorded his first album on a 4-track in the back of a tour bus. Having recorded an album m'self, in a studio, with an 18 track mixer and all the modern whizbangery and googahs and STILL not having the sound I wanted, his musicianship truly blows the mind. (proceeds to bow in humble unworthiness)

May 30, 2008 6:21 PM  
Blogger Dant opined...

I'm getting old. The thought of a 4 hour concert is enough to keep me away rather than entice me to attend.

May 30, 2008 7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

Ba Ha Ha Ha (Note no W)

Ahhh yes, the inimitable Bruce. Remember Lee of course? And by the by I am sure you remember that he backed Barrack Obama not long ago. Which brings me to the point that as I was listening to Stephen Colbert last night a Democratic Spokesperson Type (Name completely forgotten) came on and said how pleased the dems were that Hillary was still running. That in fact more people had voted and participated in the Democratic Primaries this year than ever before and that as a result they expect to WHOMP (not sure of quote) the Republicans this year.

Sounds a lot like a discussion we had here a little while back where we agreed with and I believe your words were actually closer to what he quoted. Think they got their new nationla appreciation of a real race from your humble blog?

Oh, and Peter Pan plays to adults next Monday and wednesday. If ya wanna check out the pirate ship.



May 30, 2008 8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

This post was good enough to be published.

And I'm not even a Bruce fan.

May 30, 2008 8:51 PM  
Blogger Leah opined...

I'm with JP-you are a great writer!

This post reminded me of exactly why I love the Boss. He's a really great man, isn't he? He probably leaves the toilet seat up though. Bah!

May 31, 2008 5:18 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Well, that was the other thing about it, Sage. Those hours flew didn't even think about things like peeing. (Until, of course, the show was over and you came to and THEN you had to deal with the lines).

Oh, my dear Cousin...we're gonna have to make sure we have adjoining rooms in The Home. It will make it easier on everyone.

Hat, right? And apparently he is quite tenacious about getting a track to sound the way he wants it to sound. Guy knows what he wants, works hard and he believes he can get it.

Dant, well, sure, now. But like I told Sage, the time flew by in those days. Of course, it does help that I now can just watch concert footage on a DVD...and pause it when I want/need to.

Anonyba, yes, Bruce is backing Barack. Of course, I loved him before but that didn't hurt.

And I'm quite sure that my blog is widely read and distributed inside the Beltway. Not. But it certainly should be! ;-)

JP, shucks, Poodle.

Leah, shucks again. And it's love that abides, right? I fell in love with him in 1978 and love him still. With that sort of longevity, you forgive the toilet seat thing.

May 31, 2008 8:02 AM  
Blogger Sling opined...

Damm..3 and 4 hour concerts.
The guy's not only a great musician,but an olympic athlete!

May 31, 2008 9:42 AM  
Blogger Kimberly Ann opined...

His new(er) album featuring folk and old tyme music is wonderful. The minute I heard him perform "Jesse James" I was right back with my grandpa hearing all about that "dirty little coward" that laid poor Jesse in his grave. Thanks, Bruce. That's a song that means a lot to me.

May 31, 2008 3:40 PM  
Blogger greeny opined...

I wonder if the kisser got sick after that? What a wonderful price to pay for that proximity to Bruce. My, he was looking good...

June 03, 2008 4:55 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

By now, Sling, he must have the cardio strength of a much younger man. Yay! More music for us.

KA: That's one of the things I love about him...he can power out the rock or bring it down to it's roots and be equally convincing.

Oh, Greeny, I believe he was perfectly healthy in that particular clip. The illness of which I speak was in, I believe, 1980-81, somethin' like that.

Could you believe all those girls? Wait....yes, yes I can.

June 03, 2008 6:13 AM  

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