Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dear Johnny (B.S. XIV)

My friend Johnny D wanted a full report on the Springsteen show from last night and as I typed an email to him, I realized it was more or less a blog post. Here's what I sent to him:

Johnny,

Getting harder for me to review a Bruce show because I just love him so and am always so mesmerized by how he is able to do what he does. As for last night, I’ll start with the venue. As a lifelong baseball fan, I can tell you there aren’t too many ball parks like Fenway, especially at this juncture. Fenway is a great place for a baseball fan to experience a ballgame (and some history) but it’s a terrible venue (in my opinion) for a concert. The layout and sound were just not up to par and while any outdoor arena will have its challenges, having seen many outdoor concerts, including Bruce at venues such as Giants Stadium, Shea Stadium and Gillette Stadium, all of which had sound that worked within it’s confines, at Fenway, it left much to be desired.

The next issue regarded the crowd and I don’t know if it had to do with the poor sound system or the pending doom off possible thunderstorms but it took a long time for the crowd energy to mount despite Bruce and the Band pouring it on in their usual way. Because I allowed this to affect me, it affected me but not for long because there was too much fantastic music and performing on the stage and that is why I was there, for the fourteenth time, to see this incredible performer. The good news, at some point, the crowd couldn't help but get pumped and it didn't take long.

NOTE TO JOHHNY D – THIS STARTED OUT AND IS BEING TYPED INTO AN EMAIL TO YOU BUT I REALIZED AS I WAS TYPING IT WAS BECOMING MY BLOG POST SO THIS WILL APPEAR FIRST IN YOUR EMAIL THEN LATER, ON FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM.

Looking at the set list, well, let’s look at it first (thanks Backstreets.com for me not having to keep score myself):

Thunder Road (Bruce & Roy)
Bruce walked out with Roy and he briefly addressed the crowd saying something like, “Roy and I are gonna get things started” and then Bruce pulled out the harmonica and the world became more than right, there was a Rock and Roll tranquility that set the tone for an performance that kept us guessing while being blown away as usual.

Hungry Heart
“Let’s play some summertime music” (or something close to that) exclaimed Bruce; and so he did, and it was glorious.

Sherry Darling
Summertime Blues
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
I feel like I liked the “Working on A Dream” record more than most people did. I was hoping for this song and glad that he played it. The arrangement was a bit different from both the record and version he played while touring for that album but it was as appropriate as it can be here on this oppressively humid night under the clouds in Fenway (literal and figurative for Red Sox fans).

We Take Care of Our Own
The first of the songs from the most recent record and this along with the rest have a new energy behind them.

Two Hearts
Wrecking Ball
Yes, he mentioned, “where Giants come to play”, got “booed” then apologized. Hey, there’s a need for a little schtick!

Death to My Hometown
Wow! Loved it early in the tour, this time, was a powerhouse – I loved it.

My City of Ruins
“The Rising” is one of my all-time favorite albums, not just Bruce albums. This song always delivers! During this song he paid tribute to the recently deceased Red Sox legend, Johnny Pesky with some banter and shining a spot light on both the “Pesky Pole” (the foul pole in right field at Fenway) and his number up on the rafters.

Knock on Wood
This came from a sign in the crowd and Bruce went on about how they’ve never played it before and he has no idea how it will turn out but they played it, and nobody in my general vicinity (nor a dude on the train ride home) believed for a minute that they never played that song – they KILLED with it.

Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
Thundercrack
Frankie
This is a deep cut from Tracks that I had no idea what it was during the show but it was sweet. I was trying to figure it out but then just listened knowing I would see it on the set list online.

Prove It All Night ('78 intro)
Stunning! The intro was spectacular, the song blew the house down.

Darkness on the Edge of Town
Working on the Highway
Shackled and Drawn
This three song sequence beginning with Darkness almost tells a short story – classic Bruce pacing and arranging here with a great build. Shackled and Drawn is phenomenal on the live stage.

Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Timed perfectly, after two hours of wondering if it will rain, the rains began during this song.

Backstreets (with Dream Baby Dream interlude)
Sweet!

Badlands
Land of Hope and Dreams

* * *Encore:
Who'll Stop the Rain (acoustic)
Rocky Ground
Another show stopper from the latest record.

Born to Run
Detroit Medley
Killed it!!! Awesome!

Dancing in the Dark
Quarter to Three
Another sign from the crowd and a lot of late night theatrics from Bruce, very entertaining I might add. Took a minute to figure out what the heck song it was (couldn’t read the sign from where I was sitting) but wow! Great. I should also mention that from the Detroit Medley on, the amount of dancing in the crowd just grew and grew.

Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
Clarence memorial – still haunting and beautiful.

American Land (with Ken Casey)

When the show ended, some three and a half hours after it began, my friend Mike turned and said with joyous sarcasm, “only three and a half hours, we got cheated again!” Later, Mike quipped, “he sucked again! 19 times and the same shit every time!” It’s hard to imagine how much longer this can go on but this was the fourteenth time seeing Bruce for me and once again, I was so blown away by how this man, and this incredible band, put on a show that capture so many emotions, makes you feel everything in ways that you can’t imagine feeling, makes you think about the time and place and make the moment you are in the most important moment.

All I can really say is WOW!!!

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