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)"
Labels: Jukebox Friday