I re-wrote some of this today!
I recently met with a reporter and web-editor of my local newspaper. The topic of the upcoming Springsteen concert came up and I jokingly said I would love to be a music reporter, paid to attend concerts and write about them! In reality, I would not want that job. Music reporters are also known as "music critics" and my reviews are from the heart, not from an analytical approach of what I thought was "right or wrong" with the performance.
A lot of people prefer the traditional concert review, and there are plenty of them out there to choose from. I read the one by my local reporter, Ben Wener and felt it was written with a cocky attitude and some of the statements he made clearly show that he doesn't know what he's talking about. I'll be giving him my opinion on that later.
So, if you like the standard music critic review this one may not be for you. But, if you'd like to hear about my experience with Bruce tonight, read on.
First of all, we were LATE to the concert because we got lost. I don't know how it happened, we've been to LA Sports Arena so many times, but one wrong turn and we were in Brentwood cruising in OJ's old neighborhood.
Being late to the show was horrible, we had never been late to any concert before so it started the night off with a bad feeling. I missed a few songs I would have loved to hear including Badlands, Candy's Room, No Surrender and Outlaw Pete.
Our seats were good and there was no one sitting on either side of us so we had plenty of room to move to the music. It was odd sitting on the right side of the stage (Patti's side) because for 90% of the Springsteen concerts we've attended (20 total) we always sat on the left (Clarence's side). So that also added to the feeling of the night being different from most.
The guy in front of us was wearing sexy smelling cologne which teased me all night - reminding me that I was there alone, but wishing that for once, I had a man at my side. Someone to look over at and smile when something fun happened on stage, or to hold hands with during "The Wrestler" or to kiss at the end of "Lonesome Day". I normally am not focused at all on myself when I'm at a concert, I am completely engaged in the music, the show, the energy. But tonight was different, I wasn't completely absorbed in it, a lot of "me" was surfacing and frankly, I didn't like that feeling.
If I had to choose one word to describe the show it would be: Personal. I've watched Bruce since the early 80's. Never missed a show. I was there at the beginning of his career, for his huge jump to fame in '85, for his "Lucky Town/Human Touch Days", for the reuniting of The E Street Band, to the long awaited Magic Tour all leading up to tonight.
I sensed from Bruce a very personal connection with the audience, even more so than is typical for him. He invited us in close, we were part of the show. They had the lights up often so we could see each other, not just the stage. They also had a long video screen behind the stage an occasionally panned the audience so we could see the faces (covered in joy) of the folks in the front rows.
Bruce literally got in the crowd a few times, he leaned back and let them hold him up, he stood at the edge of the stage fans reaching up and touching him, he invited several people to sing into the mic (including a very cute little boy, about 8 or 9). He collected about 10 signs that people had written song requests on. (They played a few: "Proud Mary" and "Growing Up"). He didn't seem to visit the back of the stage as often as usual, but when he did he was just inches away from the audience! Literally face to face with them.
He always gives the show every ounce of his energy, but tonight he gave even more than that, you could feel it. There was a sense hope that was missing during the Magic Tour. Tonight he reminded us of the economic difficulty that was touching most of the US, but didn't allow it to keep the fun songs from rolling out.
Considering he had a new album out, he played very little from it. He gave us all of our favorites, the crowd pleasers, the ones we all go wild for because that's what we want. Sure, its nice to have surprised (there were a few of those too) but when old friends get together they want to relive the good times, and that's what a Springsteen concert feels like. He also slowed it down a few times and did a very mellow version of ThunderRoad, which I loved.
As I watched him I couldn't help but wonder if he was thinking "How much longer will I be able to do this?". He shows no signs of slowing down (although his voice was a bit hoarse toward the end which concerned me). He is in incredible shape for a 59 year old man (i.e. muscular, fit, limber, strong, energetic). But looking around at his band, at his audience - we're all getting old! I got the feeling Bruce knew that he wouldn't tour again in awhile. When he said "We love you and we'll see you soon" there was a pensive look in his eye I'd never seen before.
Patti was not there. He didn't mention her, but he probably did at the beginning of the evening when we were still stuck somewhere in LA trying to figure out where we made a wrong turn. (NOTE: I will NOT be addressing the assinine rumors going around).
Something else unusual - there were three people on stage that I had never seen before...a male and female backup singer and a new guy playing the accordion. Its been a year since Danny died and I think that contributed to the feeling of the night - the band was missing a special member.
On the flip side of that...we also had the thrilling privilege of having Jay Weinberg show up to play a few sets. (He'll be sitting in for his dad on a few shows). Seeing Jay up there was one of the highlights for me. He's the same age as my son, 18! And he's playing drums for the E Street Band!! At one point the camera was on Jay's face (he didn't realize it) and he was watching Bruce for a cue. He mouthed the words "Born to Run?" to confirm the next song. It was cute (you had to be there). So we all knew BTR was coming before the first note was played.
Another treat, Mike Ness from Social Distortion showed up and did a song with Bruce - don't ask me which one, I have no idea but it was cool (have to admit I would have rather seen Tom Morrello again, but he played the night before).
Nils is my favorite member of the band, he's so talented and such a sweet man. It was great to watch him tonight, he has so much fun. And Max is like a machine on the drums...so much power and precision and his timing is perfect. I also enjoyed seeing Clarence, he always looks so classy - tonight he had his nails painted a shiny gold to match his sax.
All in all, the show was GREAT. We rocked out, danced, yelled "Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuce" and danced some more. There's simply no such thing as a "bad" Springsteen show.
If I had to choose a highlight it would be "The Wrestler". The lights were down except for a soft circle around Bruce and the mic. He stood there for a minute or so before be began the song (I secretly think he was channeling Mickey Rourke). He sang it with such passion, such meaning. It was perfect.
So, other than a bit of bittersweet longing and personal introspection it was another superb evening with my special friend, Bruce.
Very tired now. Goodnight.
Now playing: Bruce Springsteen - Outlaw Pete