Watching Bruce Through Kate’s Eyes
I’ve been seeing Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform since December 1975 and each time I go, I am utterly amazed. First of all, it’s pure rock and roll with plenty of showmanship. But you get your money’s worth. The shows last between two and three hours without an intermission. The band rocks out from beginning to end and clearly seem to be enjoying themselves.
Kate recalled how, at 13, she begged me to take her to see him the first time I attended a performance in Hartford. She really wasn’t into his music but liked my passion and certainly liked the idea of a rock concert. I asked her to name the saxophonist and damn if she didn’t name Clarence Clemons. But, she really wasn’t into his music, it was a school night, and the parents agreed, it just wasn’t the right time.
Last night was the right time. We decided that for her birthday we’d make it an event rather than a gift. The second tickets went on sale, I scored three seats in a reasonable location and then informed her to much rejoicing.
We braved Friday night rush hour and arrived at the XL Center around 6:30. With our dinners in the back, we sort of tailgated, and played lots of cuts from live recordings to enhance the mood. As it turned out, a coworker was also up from Maryland and had gotten a pretty good number to access to the General Admission floor and was close to center stage, texting status reports.
Knowing he never starts on time; we meandered over to the center, lingered over a choice of t-shirt as a memento and then took our seats, which turned out to be pretty good. Kate and Sarah waved to one another and then we settled in.
That is to say, for the next 2:45 or so, we were mainly on our feet, swaying to the music, clapping, cheering and singing along. As has become custom on the tour, he took signs with song titles from the fans and played two as part of the “stump the band” portion of our evening. For the first time, according to Bruce, the band played “Wild Thing”. These days, you hear it and think of Charlie Sheen in Major League. Seeing the band play it, you’re reminded it’s a rock and roll song first and foremost.
Kate was hoping for Radio Nowhere, I was hoping for Cadillac Ranch and neither of us was disappointed. Sarah tried in vein to get him to take her suggestion of “The Fever” which he hasn’t performed on tour in ages.
The band was without Patti Scialfa, as has been the case for over a week now, and he explained she had a tumble off a horse and was pretty banged up. He assured us it was not the same horse that bucked Madonna. Jay Weinberg sat in for a series of songs, easing into being his dad’s full time replacement in the coming months and he did well.
The band was tight and what impressed me all over again was how versatile they were. I lost count of the number of different instruments that were used by the band but it helped keep the sound mixed. It was also lots of fun watching the interplay between the performers while Bruce was playing to the crowd.
His set list was good including the tour premiere of “Jackson Cage” so we had a unique line-up of music. For completists, here’s the run down:
2. Outlaw Pete
3. Jackson Cage (tour premiere)
4. She’s The One
5. Working On A Dream
6. Radio Nowhere
8. Johnny 99
9. Ghost of Tom Joad
10. Raise Your Hand
11. Wild Thing (sign request, tour premiere).
12. Rockin’ All Over the World (sign request, tour premiere).
13. The E Street Shuffle (sign request).
14. Waiting On A Sunny Day
15. The Promised Land
16. The Wrestler
17. Kingdom of Days
18. Lonesome Day
19. The Rising
20. Born To Run
21. Cadillac Ranch
22. Hard Times
23. Tenth Ave Freeze-out
24. Land of Hope & Dreams
25. American Land
What was fun about “American Land” was how easily they switched from rock to pub music. They and the audience were clearly having fun with this one.
Kate adored every moment of the evening, declaring it one of the best presents she’s ever received.