Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Album: The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle
Choice Song: Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
HIS: Yea dude, I know. I know exactly what you’re thinking (if you are a frequent reader of our blog), “But you’ve already done three Bruce albums already. In fact, one was just last post.” Yea well. Sometimes plans need to be altered. And hopefully any time you alter a plan, it’s for a good reason. See, I had planned on pulling out something a little more heavy. Maybe Railroad Jerk’s “Speed The Plough” or Killdozer’s “Intellectuals Are The Shoeshine Boys Of The Ruling Elite.” But something very special happened to me last night; something that I’ll likely never forget. I saw Bruce in concert for the first time ever. Here’s where you say, “WHAT?! But dude I thought you were soooooooooo Jersey and sooooooooo rock and roll?” Yea well, why don’t you take a minute and quickly read my entry for Bruce’s Live Boxset? That should shed some light for you. But now. Back to last night. Sold out. MASSIVELY sold out. Tickets were going in places for over $2000. And there were she and I, battling the mid-afternoon reality and impending depression that we weren’t going to be able to score tickets and that I’d miss The Boss yet again. But at the eleventh hour, we scored a miraculous pair of tickets that sat us fifteen rows off the stage, right above where Clarence used to stand. We got to the Garden about an hour early, freaked out over our seats, grabbed a pair of beers and settled in. What ensued was unquestionably the greatest rock and roll concert I’ve ever seen. Bruce pulling a ten-year-old kid onto the stage to sing the chorus of “Waiting On A Sunny Day,” Little Steven’s fiery intro to “Rosalita,” Clarence’s nephew Jake Clemons hitting most of the notes the Big Man used to lay down (unfortunately for Jake, no one can ever hit those notes. Those are The Big Man’s notes and only the Big Man could ever play them), Nils Lofgren’s famous guitar soloing and myriad other E Street-isms were all on display in full force and Bruce and his band gave a performance that could hardly be matched by a band one-third their age. Nearly four hours of hits, both old and new. Nearly four hours of ass shaking, foot stomping, fist pumping and chorus screaming. But the best moments of the night were Bruce’s two tributes to his right hand man; to C. First, early in the set, the lights in the house went down and the only one left illuminated was the spotlight that shone stage right, just there on the massive spot that the Big Man used to make look so little. It shone on his absence and Bruce reminded us not to be sad because as long as we’re here and the band is here, Clarence will be here. I wish I could tell you if there was a dry eye in the house but I couldn’t tell. My eyes were too full with tears. The next tribute - one that fit the E Streeters much better - was far less solemn, because, after all, it’s the E Street we’re talking about here. As the band was wailing through their night-closer “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” Bruce ran out through the crowd, onto a platform that was set up in the middle of the general admission crowd and began to sing the verse, “When the change was made uptown and The Big Man joined the band.” It was just there that the band stopped on a dime and Bruce directed to the crowd where the jumboscreens played a two-minute montage of the Big Man to the Garden-rattling cheers of the 20,000-strong crowd. It was a funeral party. A rock and roll goodbye for the Big Man. A sendoff that only Bruce and The E Street could give. Wish I could tell you more, but those damn tears have a way of fighting right back onto your cheeks at a time like that.
HERS: Over the past year plus, I’ve watched my own boyfriend’s band perform numerous times. Whether they’re playing for 7 or 70 people, they put on the same hard rocking, sweat-filled, sprint-paced, spirited rock show. It’s not just because he’s from Jersey and has a strong sax in his band that people compare him to Bruce Springsteen. For his entire life, he’s been eyeing The Boss. Sure he’s learned some moves and mixed them with his own. But it’s less about how he moves and more about what he stands for. Rock n’ roll. The common man. And having a blast. Probably beers, too. But until last night, he had never seen Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band live. Hard to believe, but true.
And it was no less than a life-changing concert. I don’t say that in a cliche way, either. I fully mean it. To kick off the night the band walked into the stage with every single ceiling light on in the whole place. They simply took their places, picked up their instruments, and to an uproarious applause, began to play. No opener. No light show. Just rock n’ roll — as only Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band can deliver. They treated Madison Square Garden like it was just another bar they were playing on just another night surrounded by their closest friends. Show me some other megastar band that has that feel about them when playing to 20,000 people. From the first note they went from 0 to 60 and didn’t stop for almost four hours straight. Bruce sprinted around the stage, pulled fans up to sing with him, slapped their hands, handed them the mic, even drank their beers, and crowd-surfed. Were they at some Blarney Stone or even the Stone Pony, I’m guessing the show would be just the same. And leave it to Bruce to make you feel like this very show you just happened to get tickets to was personally tailored just for you. Maybe it’s because both Bruce and we have lost someone dear to us in the recent past (Clarence!). Maybe because you always hear that one song you were hoping they’d play and you assume they’re playing it just for you (Rosalita!!). But probably it’s because Bruce seems to always feel your pain and share in your joy no matter who you are or what’s going on (Bring On Your Wrecking Ball!!!). Of course, this means I fully wept through no less than 5 songs. Some rocker I am. Meanwhile to my right, my boyfriend was playing cool, methodically watching every move and mentally taking notes on it all. It was possibly the best concert we’ve ever been to (to date) — and we’ve been to quite a few (as chronicled in this blog). They don’t call him The Boss for nothing.