Concert at BB&T Center lasts over 3 hours with mix of rock icon’s greatest hits
The show also featured the tour premiere of “Jungleland”
Ever since Courtney Cox famously jumped on stage with Bruce Springsteen in the video for “Dancing in the Dark,” it has been every girl’s fantasy to relive that magic moment. At Friday night’s (Feb. 12) concert at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, one man flipped that script in a big way.
Nick Ferrara, famously known in Springsteen lore as “The Philly Elvis” profiled in the 2013 documentary, Springsteen and I, got his very own “hey baby” moment when he held up a sign requesting an opportunity to dance with violinist Soozie Tyrell.
Springsteen, who was clearly amused, motioned Ferrara to join the band on the stage, and chuckled as he bent down on one knee to pay his respects to The Boss.
Friday night’s show in the City of Brotherly Love was a special occasion, indeed. It featured the tour premiere of an epic 11-minute version of “Jungleland” with saxophonist Jake Clemons nailing the famed solo by his uncle, “The Big Man” Clarence Clemons. At the end of the solo, Springsteen shared a moment with the young musician, patting his shoulder for a job well done.
Additionally, Springsteen gave the fans a treat with a performance of “My Love Will Not Let you Down,” and a rousing cover of “Shout” where he exclaimed, “Bruce is loose!”
It was a family affair for the Freehold, N.J., native. His sister, Ginny, was in attendance with her husband, and Springsteen referenced that from the stage as he introduced the song “The River”.
“I wrote this for my sister and brother-in-law,” he said. “She’s here with her husband tonight. They struggled during the (Jimmy) Carter recession.”
The show was also his longest on the tour, clocking in at three hours, twenty-seven minutes.
Other highlights included the introduction of the love song “Drive All Night,” where Springsteen revealed that he recorded the track in “one take” in 1977.
The E Street Band is on tour performing the album, The River, in its entirety. The group’s next stop is in Sunrise, Fla., on Feb. 16 at the BB&T Center.
Thanks to philly.com & Dan DeLuca, Inquirer Music Critic
From a distance of 35 years, Bruce Springsteen revisited The River in South Philadelphia on Friday night.
With his E Street Band behind him, the 66-year-old Springsteen took the stage at the sold-out Wells Fargo Center just past 8 p.m. and, after proclaiming his delight at being back in the City of Brotherly Love, began the marathon communal gathering with “Meet Me In The City,” the rousing rocker that was an outtake from the 1980 release and is serving as the table setter for the ultra hot ticket tour occasioned by a release of an expanded River box set in December.
Before going on to play the 20 songs on the original double LP in sequence, Springsteen took a moment to reflect on his intentions on what he called “my coming-of-age album.”
Until then, he and the E Streeters had been part of “an outsider community in Asbury Park,” he said. With The River, he wanted to enter the adult world. “I wanted it to be about fun and laughter and dancing and sex, lonely nights and teardrops. I wanted it to be big. I wanted it to feel like life.”
On Friday, E Street was stripped down close to bar band essentials with the late Clarence Clemons’ nephew Jake stepping out on saxophone, serving as the sole horn player rather than the full section of recent tours, and consigliere and guitarist Miami Steve Van Zandt’s ragged but right yowling vocals restored to primacy.
And to be sure, the band roared: yukking it up on the fraternity rock of “Sherry Darling,” pushing hard against the suburban claustrophobia of “Jackson Cage” and ripping it up on “Cadillac Ranch,” the party starter that Springsteen tipped off those not already in the know is really “a funeral song.”
The River is about finding joys in everyday life on songs like “Ramrod” and “I’m A Rocker,” and also being smacked down and put back in your place. Springsteen approached both its romantic moments, like “I Wanna Marry You” and its most sorrowful, such as “Independence Day,” with wisdom that comes with age.
He began the former with a gorgeous doo wop intro in which he reminisced about the first kiss he ever stole growing up in Freehold, N.J., while identifying the song as being about “a love without consequences that doesn’t exist.” And in his opening to the latter, one of his great songs about escaping the poisoned legacy of his father, he talked of the growing-up process of being “startled by your parents humanity and the fact that they had dreams and desires of their own.”
“There’s an opera out on the turnpike, there’s a ballet being fought out in the alley,” Springsteen sang later on in the show in “Jungleland,” from Born To Run, a 1975 album that’s far more grandiose than The River.
But The River plays out like an opera in its own way, albeit one with fewer crescendos and in which crushing disappointments are suffered more quietly, in ghostly ballads like “Point Blank” and “Stolen Car,” which Springsteen said was the first song he ever wrote that “got down to the nitty gritty. When you lose your love, do you lose yourself?”
The River ended Friday on a somber, philosophical country and western note, with the hero of the song spooked by the sight of a bloody car crash, holding his lover by his side and thinking about all he has to lose.
“The River was really about time,” Springsteen said as the instrumental coda played out. “How when you enter the adult world, when you choose your partner, and you find your work, the clock starts ticking and you’ve got limited amount of time to do your work, raise you family and do something good.”
The River took two hours to ride, and of course the show had another hour and a half to go. The first set-after-the-set was heavy on sturdy rockers of moody seriousness and sweeping grandeur.
First up was one for the locals, with the electrified take on Nebraska’s small time hood tale kicking off with “They blew up the chicken man in Philly last night ….” flowing into an emphatic “Prove It All Night” in which Springsteen and Van Zandt got their licks in, but third man Nils Lofgren spun in circles and showed he’s the virtuoso guitarist on stage.
“My Love Will Not Let You Down” built up a Spectorian Wall of Sound, “Human Touch” was a opportunity for Springsteen and wife Patti Scialfa to twine their voices together, and the pre-encore show came to a close with the one-two-three punch of Jungleland,” “The Rising” and “Thunder Road.”
And after that, three hours in, time for a bathroom break, right? Nope. House lights up and “Born To Run,” kicking off an extended encore instead, complete with a red jump suited Elvis impersonator taking a twirl with violinist Soozie Tyrell on “Dancing In The Dark” and, yes, “Rosalita.”
It was with the original River tour that the 3-hour-plus maximalist Springsteen experience was born, and while his performances are more carefully calibrated these days, Springsteen stills wipes you out with his endurance and enthusiasm, with next to no discernible drop-off in musical quality. And 35 years down the road, that’s something to marvel at.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/inthemix/Deluca-Springsteen-post.html#TTiWBascblEbzhjD.99
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/inthemix/Deluca-Springsteen-post.html#7yFmiPfowfGjzzqf.99
“I don’t think this existed six weeks ago,” Steven Van Zandt said, chuckling to himself, over a late lunch of salad and tea a few hours before showtime on January 16th, the day Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band opened their unexpected 2016 tour in Pittsburgh. “It wasn’t ‘Maybe it’s gonna happen, let’s get ready,'” the guitarist went on. “It was Bruce putting out this box set and thinking, ‘Maybe we should do a show or two.’ When I heard that, I was like, ‘Wait a minute. We’re not playing a residency at the Stone Pony anymore. Assembling 160 people to do a show or two — that’s complicated.’ I thought, ‘If that happens, it could well turn out to be more’ — which is what happened.”
Van Zandt has played with Springsteen and been a consistent, trusted confidant longer than anyone else in the E Street Band — that is from the very beginning, in the mid-Sixties, when the two were New Jersey teenage misfits mutually determined to make their futures in rock & roll. “This year will make it 50 years,” Van Zandt, 65, claimed proudly of their bond. But even Van Zandt was taken by surprise when Springsteen — a week before the December release of The Ties That Bind: The River Collection (Columbia), a multi-disc reflection on the prolific turbulence that became his 1980 double LP, The River — suddenly called his band to order for a tour that is already in its second month, features nightly performances of that entire album and is now set to run into the summer.
Van Zandt said he has long “fantasized” that the E Street Band — which last toured with Springsteen in the spring of 2014 — could hit the road more regularly, “six months, same time, then do other stuff. It’s never happened.” Springsteen, he conceded, “doesn’t play by the rules of career. I mean, look at the marketing.” Van Zandt laughs. “Which is zero. If anyone else tried to have a career with no marketing … ” There is a pause, then more laughter. “But he’s managed to come all this way, bigger than ever. This is the most successful tour we’ve done here in a long time. So from his point of view, why fix what ain’t broke?”
In this last installment of conversations from the first weekend of the 2016 River tour, for more than hour before Van Zandt departed for soundcheck (including a run-through of “Rebel Rebel,” Springsteen’s tribute that night to David Bowie), the guitarist affirmed many of the themes from my interviews the day before with Springsteen and drummer Max Weinberg: the narrative transformation in Springsteen’s writing for The River and the torrent of songs from which he eventually built the final 20-song album; the dizzying momentum of the sessions; the invigorating element of discovery in the current shows, as Springsteen and his band play that record live each night.
Van Zandt also spoke about The River and its resonance from his unique perspective as the album’s often frustrated co-producer; as a super fan of the two dozen songs that got left behind; and as a true believer, to this day, in Springsteen’s determined, idealistic course. Asked about future of the E Street Band — how soon they’ll know how long is too long — Van Zandt was as blunt and certain as his friend and leader. “There is no end in sight,” the guitarist says. “And as long as I’m standing there next to him, it’s a band.”
You have been outspoken in the past about the songs Bruce left off The River — that, in fact, it was some of his best work and didn’t deserve to be left behind.
The River, to me, meant 43 songs.
The actual album plus the outtakes.
And those are among the greatest records ever made, as far as I’m concerned. It’s funny, because all these years you’re thinking “outtakes.” There’s really not that much he’d have replaced on The River. It works very well. And these two other albums’ worth of songs are just two legitimate albums. The second outtake album is another band’s career. The first one [the initial sequence, The Ties That Bind, pulled by Springsteen before release] — that’s some of our best stuff: “Loose Ends,” “Restless Nights.”
Does it feel strange to be going on the road without new music, playing an album from 1980?
I’m looking at that outtake album as new music — absolutely, which is why I hope some of it gets integrated into the show, whether we’re doing it in sequence or not. We might have occasionally played “Loose Ends.” We did “Where the Bands Are” maybe twice, “Take ’em as They Come” a couple of times, “Restless Nights” once. Honestly, I think we’re coming out to promote a new album in that sense.
What did you think of that initial sequence, The Ties That Bind, before Bruce pulled it to create The River?
I don’t remember knowing about that. I don’t know how I missed it [laughs]. And I’m there producing. A couple of songs, like “Cindy,” I don’t remember at all. And there it is — second track on the album we delivered.
He was right in pulling it back, saying it doesn’t feel finished. He thinks so deeply about this stuff, so comprehensively. I can’t pretend to understand everything he’s thinking about. I can only do what my instincts tell me and what he says he wants to do — out loud [laughs], which might be five or ten percent of what’s actually going on. Part of the job of being a producer is the Vulcan mind meld, where you listen not to what they’re saying but what they mean.
He described The River as his first “insider” album — about the struggles in working life, personal relationships and family — after making four albums about “outsiders.”
He had a vague film-noir aspect to Darkness on the Edge of Town. Born to Run was a mixture of things but mostly about youth and fantasies. Now, all of a sudden, it’s “The Ties That Bind” and “I Wanna Marry You.” It was partially the fantasy of being normal. He wasn’t quite there yet. He would wisely wait until he felt a bit more secure, which wouldn’t be until that album came out and we had our first, real success with [the Top Five hit] “Hungry Heart.” That allowed him to start thinking about having a real life, so to speak.
Was there a turning-point song in The River sessions where you could hear the material becoming more than a sprawl of material, developing a narrative course?
I don’t think so. It was one song after the other. He was in that hundred-song run which maybe Bob Dylan and a few others have had. That run of songs from Darkness to The River — it just became normal. “The Ties That Bind” felt like a statement. “The River” had that wonderful thing he does — very detailed nuance in a story. The more detailed, the more particular it gets, the more universal it is. I found that fascinating.
He just had a thing: “I’m bringing everybody to me. I’m not going to them. I don’t belong in the mainstream industry. They’re coming to me — or they’re not coming. And if we’re at the Stone Pony forever, so be it.” He was not into compromise, from Day One.
That continues to this day. He’s his own genre, his own rules. Kids at home, don’t follow this career path. You’ll find it doesn’t work for you. [Laughs] But it works for him.
As Bruce’s co-producer on The River, how did you deal with telling him “No” or “You should change this”?
It’s about having the right conversation at the right time. In the end, you accept the fact that you’re there to help him realize his vision. Every single outtake was a lost argument. He was getting 10, 12 great songs very quickly at that point. I would be like, “OK, let’s put that out. You want to do 12 more? That will be the next album.” But you can’t stop that flow when it happens. Chuck Berry had that flow for five or six years. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones — the great ones have a run where they’re in touch with something a little bit mystical, a little bit beyond logic.
It’s not something you plan, that you aspire to. You have this stuff built up inside, wanting to come out, and you tap into that faucet. Born to Run was eight songs. He went from that to a hundred [over Darkness and The River]. It was some of divine … [pauses] It’s something you can’t take for granted. That’s what made me mad sometimes. I’d get angry with him. Here I am, struggling to write a good song; every fucking one of them is war. And I’d be like, “Hey, man, you’re annoying me here. You’re taking this shit a little bit for granted. [Laughs] What do you mean you’re throwing out this song other people would have a career with?” “Restless Nights,” that’s a career. “Loose Ends,” that’s a career. But you can’t stop it. Once it’s happening, you go with it.
We had a wonderful recording method by then. We’d found the right studio [the Power Station in New York City]; we’d found the right engineers. We figured all that stuff out. It felt so good to go to work every day, after three years of torture. Suddenly, recording is fun. That alone is good for 40 fucking songs.
In a way, The River marked a break in what had been an indivisible thing. He wrote songs; the E Street Band played them. But his next album, Nebraska, was totally, literally solo. From that point on, there was a divide between Bruce’s solo records and E Street work.
He wanted both things. He always had both things in him, ever since I’ve known him. He has the solo-folk side, and the band side. Most people do one or the other. He was extremely versatile. And that can be confusing. He didn’t want to be tied down. When I heard the Nebraska demos, I said, “This is an album.” As a producer, you know when someone is doing something special. I thought it was the most intimate glimpse of his solo side, the folk side, that you were ever going to get Why? Because he never intended to put it out. Taking on those characters, doing that crazy yodeling — it sounded like you were in fucking Nebraska.
I actually think The River is somewhat underrated, even by fans, because it came between the breakout records. It’s actually caught in the long shadows between Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town and Born in the U.S.A.
I think that’s right. I’ve had a theory for years: I don’t think the human brain can absorb more than 10, 12 songs at a time. Altbough it was the right thing to do a double album, it becomes diluted. Your energy is going to 20 songs instead of 10, and you appreciate them less. If it had been a single album, it would have been appreciated more, especially if he had put more of the pop-rock stuff on there. It would have been our biggest album. All you gotta do is throw on “The River” — that’s all the content you need. [Laughs] A little of Bruce’s content goes a long way. But he felt he had to do eight or 10 songs like that. And I understand that. He was very conscious of carving out his own identity.
He just continues to break the rules. You can’t categorize or predict what he’s going to do. That is part of the fun.
And you just wait for the call.
And hope you’re available [laughs]. All you can do is try and keep up. This tour is a bit of a miracle, really. There’s no grand plan here. It just happened. And we’ll see what happens tonight. We haven’t played with this small a band in a few years.
Actually, half of the 10 people onstage were on The River. You lost organist Danny Federici and saxophonist Clarence Clemons, but that’s still a good survival rate.
In many ways, this tour is probably the biggest tribute to Clarence and Danny — in the details. I was enjoying that at rehearsal, enjoying the detail in the songs – not just in the arrangements but in the different keyboard sounds and the great melodies of the sax solos. Jake [Clemons, Clarence’s nephew and replacement] is getting better and better. And you realize those solos are part of the compositions — that old King Curtis style. The drum fills are totally part of the composition.
Those seven guys on The River — everybody was doing something important, playing a very specific role. It’s a real “band” album, in the true sense of the word.
Thanks to berkshireeagle.com & Derek Gentile for this post.
ALBANY, N.Y. >> Confession time: When I heard rocker Bruce Springsteen was touring and playing his double album “The River” in its entirety, I was a little disappointed.
How would this work? Could The Boss keep our interest throughout a 20-song run? Would it be as spontaneous as previous shows?
Oh, me of little faith. Springsteen and the E-streeters presented an exhausting, 34-song, 3½- hour show, with no intermission, that nearly blew the roof off the Times Union Center.
“The River,” released in 1980, was a key turning point in the evolution of Springsteen. As he explained on Monday night, it was “a big album with big ideas. It started out as one record, then we took it back anD made it a double album, because one album wasn’t enough.”
Themes of love, pain, growing older and evolving into adulthood took center stage on Monday. Although, let’s face it, There were songs about having fun, dancing, living life large — and cars. Four songs about cars ( “Drive All Night,” “Cavilled Ranch,” “Stolen Car,” “Wreck on the Highway”)
But hearing the entire 20-song album performed live, by this band, was, in some ways, revelatory
The songs, as a group, fit together in a more cohesive way. It was easier to see the way the record fiT.
To be honest, one could just sit back and listen without extensive analysis and still enjoy the show. I forgot how many great songs were on the two discs. And the rest of the numbers were very strong, as well, and one sees what a dramatic statement about coming of age “The River” actually was.
But The Boss did not stop there on Monday. In addition to a pair of tracks (“Meet Me in the City,” “Be True”) that didn’t appear on the double disc, Springsteen played, essentially a whole other concert after he finished “The River,” beginning with “Badlands,” “Wrecking Ball,” “Backstreets,” “Be True” and a blistering, passionate version of “Because the Night,” with guitarist Nils Lofgren killing the solo.
Springsteen deliberately played with a relatively stripped down band of eight other musicians. (Believe me, after seeing the 15- and 16-person regiments he’s presented in previous tours, nine is stripped down).
The show highlighted the vocals of Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt, Max Weinberg’s thunderous drum rolls and Jake Clemens’ accomplished sax solos. The encore was an eight-song offering, including “Born To Run,” “Dancing in the Dark,” “Bobby Jean” and what Boss veterans now call The Song: That little ditty called “Rosalita.”
In addition, we got the old Mitch Ryder medley, which, as Springsteen explained to the audience, “We played this at the end of the first ‘River’ tour every night, so we might as well do it here.”
Might as well. Bravo.
Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251
Thanks to Backstreets.com for this post!
Bruce Springsteen fan Steven Strauss lived out a dream many live music fans have had when his favorite artist noticed him dancing in the crowd and invited him backstage to hang last night in Albany. Strauss, who happened to be reporting on The Boss’s performance at Albany’s Times Union Center, detailed his wild experience for the fansite Backstreets.
The craziness started for Strauss during the last song of the evening. As Springsteen and the E Street Band were ending a 34-song The River Tour performance with “Shout,” The Boss took note of Strauss in the crowd and bellowed, “Alright, this one’s going out to my man in the checkered shirt.” He went on to say, “I see you every night… come backstage after the show! Let’s give him a round of applause…” Shortly thereafter Steven and his parents were backstage hanging with The Boss. Strauss explained on Backstreets that he recently quit his job to focus on writing and as such has been able to hit each night of Springsteen’s The River Tour thus far. “I sing (hopefully not too loudly for those standing around me) all of the words, I dance to all of the songs, I jump up and down, I cry, I fist-pump, I air guitar, I do things that no one has figured out how to describe in words yet,” Strauss said about his enthusiastic reception to each show which garnered notice from The Boss.
Head to Backstreets to read more about Strauss’s big night and to read his recap of last night’s show.
And this brings me back to Bruce’s dedication before “Be True” to “our special friends.” I couldn’t help but think he was talking to the diehards, whom he’s clearly playing the outtakes for, but he hasn’t fully figured out how to best fit them in yet. As such, he directed “Be True” to all of us — if we stick with him as he figures out the best way to vary up the post-River part of the show, he’ll be true to us by continuing to play more and more rarities. That’s how it struck me, anyway.Yet I don’t think anyone expected that he’d play another rarity so soon. I assumed “The Rising” would be the start of his same ol’ song sequence through “Shout” — a belief that was only bolstered when he didn’t replace the customary encore-starting “Badlands” with anything — but Bruce yanked a sign from the crowd after “Born to Run” and launched into the tour premiere of a raucous and hard-rocking “Detroit Medley.” The diehards loved it, the casual fans loved it, everyone loved it. This simple diversification of the encores really added an extra oomph to the final stretch of the night.
Another surprise was in store before the end of the show as well: the return of “Bobby Jean” after only previously being played on the first night of the tour. With another fresh jolt of energy behind him, Bruce had the whole arena throwing up their hands and “Shout”-ing before the night was through.
Though they may not have yet figured out the best way to diversify the setlist after their monumental performance of The River, they’re damn sure working on it, and my is it fun to watch them work every single night.
Thanks to The Boston Globe and Staff Writer Sarah Rodman
Even by their own typically Herculean standards, the performance given by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the TD Garden on Thursday night was legions above and beyond the normal concert experience.
If someone had been magically transported from outside the building onto the arena floor around the halfway point of the maniacally spirited version of “Rosalita,” they never would’ve guessed by the posture, expression, or energy level of any of the band members — and most of the sold-out crowd, for that matter — that the concert had just hit the three-hour mark, with 20 more jubilant minutes still to come.
It seemed clear that the decision to play the entirety of his 1980 double-album “The River” — in connection with a recently released boxed set — has injected the already indefatigable Springsteen and his merry band with a jolt of powerful electricity. In many ways it’s a perfect album (albeit a lengthy one at 85 minutes) for this treatment, thanks to its variety of tones, and provides an opportunity to play both big hits adored by the casual crowd and also underplayed — and underrated — deeper cuts beloved by diehards.
From the giddy crowd-surfing highs of “Hungry Heart” to the moody, noir-ish narrative beauty of “Point Blank,” the clutch of bar-band rave-ups like “Cadillac Ranch” and “Ramrod,” and the always gutting disillusion of the classic title track, “The River” proved a spectacular first set. There were breakneck rockers and contemplative moments that served as breathers but, remarkably, not as lulls.
Between a few of the tunes, the New Jersey rocker — who was in tremendous voice and spirits all night — talked a bit about the ideas behind some of the songs. One particularly moving revelation came before the aching ballad “Independence Day,” when he discussed the moment a young adult recogizes the humanity of her or his parents, the hopes and dreams they might have had, and the compromises they made
Of course, the testifying, speechifying, rock ‘n’ roll evangelizing Springsteen was in the house as well, exhorting the crowd of 16,654 to let loose. The post-“River” set featured a barrage of big hits and fan favorites: sing-along staples “Born to Run,” “Thunder Road,” “Badlands,” and “Dancing in the Dark,” alongside a few surprises like the rare “Roulette” that allowed them to do just that, and raised the energy level even higher.
As usual, Springsteen interacted playfully with his band members all night, sparring around the microphone with foil Steven Van Zandt, watching as guitarist Nils Lofgren literally spun his way through a frenetic “Because the Night,” and swaying with guitarist-vocalist (and wife) Patti Scialfa, who was particularly great on an intimate-yet-rocking version of “Human Touch.”
J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf got into the action on a wild and woolly take of the Isley Brothers’ “Shout” that brought the night to a raucous close, but you got the sense that if it had been allowed, the band would’ve kept right on playing.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
At the TD Garden, Thursday
Thanks to Bruce Springsteen Forbes Magazine and Roberta MatusonContributor
Last night, I was one of the lucky people who scored a ticket to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Boston Garden, and what a night it was! The man and his band are still amazing, even after all these years. Here are some lessons that I took away from last night’s show.
It’s no secret, thanks to the NY Attorney General’s special investigation and report on ticket sales, titled “Why Can’t New Yorkers Get Tickets?” that it’s next to impossible to buy tickets these days to events that are in high demand. Yet, there are still tickets to be had. I logged into Ticket Master and was ready to hit the button the moment tickets were released. Unfortunately, so were millions of other people. However, I never gave up.
I think of how many times that I’m just about ready to give up on a prospect and then I tell myself, “Just make one more call,” and oftentimes that’s the call that gets the appointment. If you want something bad enough, be persistent. Don’t give up!
Take a Different Route
After about five minutes of trying to purchase a ticket online, it became obvious to me that my strategy for getting tickets wasn’t going to serve me well. I decided instead to take a different route. I thought to myself, “What if I tried to buy two single tickets?” I immediately scored one and in my excitement, it never occurred to me that I might not get another. However, in the heat of the moment, it didn’t matter. I was in! Of course my husband was sitting across the room with sad puppy eyes wondering if I was dumping him for a night alone with Bruce. Luckily I was able to purchase another ticket, which was on the other side of the stadium.
How often do we keep pounding our heads doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same results. Next time, take a different route and don’t be surprised if you arrive at your destination faster and happier, and maybe with an event ticket in hand!
Jed Gottlieb Friday, February 05, 2016
Bruce Springsteen has mainstream masterpieces: “Born to Run” and “Born in the U.S.A.”
He has fan favorites: “Nebraska” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town.”
Any one of these seem an obvious choice for a Springsteen tour celebrating an album by playing it front-to-back. Instead, Bruce and the E Street Band waded into double-LP “The River” last night at a sold-out TD Garden.
Surprising both casual fans and diehards like me, the Boss made the right choice.
“The River” represents the battle between rejecting or accepting middle age. So, lyrically and musically, the night dipped back into juvenile sock-hop rock (“Sherry Darling,” “Crush on You,” “I’m a Rocker”) and swam toward the deep end, where bleak compositions blinked into the void of dreams deferred (the title track could be Springsteen’s signature piece for young adult angst).
Put together by a band somehow still in its prime 45 years in, the songs provided an emotional punch and counterpunch like nothing else. As Springsteen told the crowd: “I wanted to make a big record that felt like life.”
He did that with the friction between the jukebox glee of “Two Hearts” and the irrepressible weight of “Independence Day,” a song about, as he said last night, “two people struggling to understand each other.”
He did it smashing skeletal, hopeless ballad “The River” right up against lush, piano and organ-driven (and kind of hopeless) ballad “Point Blank.”
After two hours (20 album cuts plus two outtakes), the band blasted into more stuff exploring youthful chaos and middle-aged despair. Hey, 22 tunes and Springsteen had just warmed up — not a platitude, a truth.
He reminded us “Because the Night” sounds equally brilliant in a man’s voice. He and wife Patti Scialfa got close for “Human Touch.” He reminded us, and we always need reminding, hope crushes fear with “The Rising.”
After half an hour of extras, he did a 45-minute encore — in total three hours and 20 minutes. This time, nothing obscure. Instead, songs he’s made American standards including “Badlands,” “Born to Run” and “Dancing in the Dark.”
As awesome as it is to hear Bruce and the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, house-rocking, booty-shaking, Viagra-taking, love-making E Street Band bounce around the catalog, I like the whole album idea. May I suggest “Nebraska” next, or “Born in the U.S.A.,” or anything. Just come back and do it again.
TORONTO – “Good evening Toronto! We’re so glad to be here in your beautiful city!” yelled Bruce Springsteen, as he often does.
“Are you ready to be entertained?”
About 17,000 fans — chanting “Bruuuuuuuce” before the New Jersey rocker took the stage – answered in the affirmative at the Air Canada Centre.
The occasion was the only Canadian date of Springsteen’s The River tour, which kicked off with Meet Me In The City, a previously un-released track from 1979-80 that came out on last year’s The Ties That Bind: The River Sessions box set.
Then The Boss, now 66 years old but still possessing the energy of a man half his age – he later crowd-surfed from a catwalk in the middle of the floor back to the stage during Hungry Heart, okay? – got more specific.
“Are you ready to be transformed?” he continued.
And so it went as Springsteen and the E Street Band – pianist Roy Bittan, guitarists-vocalists Stevie Van Zandt, Nils Lofgren and Patti Scialfa, bassist Garry Tallent and incredible drummer Max Weinberg with violinist-guitarist-vocalist Soozie Tyrell, saxophonist Jake Clemons and keyboardist Charlie Giordano – delivered a marathon three hour and 15-minute, yes even transformative, night of music in honor of his fifth release and first double album – 1980’s The River.
As he explained: “We’re going to take you down to the River. (It was) a record where I was trying to figure out where I fit in. My other records were outsider records. … I wanted to make a record that felt like life.”
Certainly, a Springsteen show has always felt like that very thing — life itself.
And his feel-good rockers mixed with contemplative slower numbers made up for any aggravation getting tickets at will call (there were more stringent rules in place requiring concert goers to show both I.D. and their credit card) and the long lineups that resulted and made for a half-hour later concert start.
Or at least I think it did.
Springsteen also showed off his talents on harmonica during the title track from The River which found the whole place illuminated with cell phone lights while pianist Roy Bittan’s beautiful intro to Point Blank provided another memorable moment.
Springsteen, always an eloquent speaker, also discussed the making of several of The River songs before performing them.
“Independence Day is the first song I wrote about fathers and sons, “ he said. “I imagined it as a late night conversation around the kitchen table between two people struggling to understand one another.”
Of I Wanna Marry You, he explained: “This is a song of youth, of imagining love, in all of its glory and in all of its tentativeness. It’s not the real thing, but you’ve got to start some place.”
And finally of Stolen Car: “This is the first song I wrote about men and women and it asks the question, ‘If you lose your love, do you lose yourself?’”
As he wrapped up The River’s tracks with Wreck on The Highway, he concluded: “The subtext of The River was time, time entering your life and slipping away. And how once you entered your adult life, your clock starts ticking, you have a limited time to do your work, raise your family and try and do something good.”
All big life questions, and all classic Springsteen.
Otherwise, he was firing up the ACC with rockers like Cadillac Ranch, I’m A Rocker — which saw him go back out into the crowd again – Ramrod, the goose-bump inducing Because The Night – with Lofgren playing his instrument like a whirling dervish — and Badlands.
Then came the lights-up crowd singalongs of Born To Run, Dancing In the Dark – which saw The Boss pull an 89 year old woman celebrating her birthday up on stage with him to dance — Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) and a cover of The Isley Brothers’ Shout.