The Promise

Posted: March 4, 2016 in Music nobody listens to, Shovels, Uncategorized, Wa fuckin Ha


The River was about

the taking of that time

and how we each have a finite amount of it

to do our jobs

to raise our families

to do something good

How the fuck does a SIXTY-SIX YEAR OLD MAN play with that kind of energy for THREE AND A HALF HOURS?

The last time we saw Springsteen, was nearing the end of the Bush Regime, and a lot has happened since then.  This time around, he was celebrating the 35th anniversary of what he called his ‘coming of age’ album.  I bought that album when it came out (amusingly enough, through Columbia House ).  However, that was when I was getting  heavily into metal and punk, and I confess it mostly left me a bit meh….the vinyl ended up in a crate, rarely played for a long time.  Mainly, I recall thinking there were a few good songs, and some serious filler.

Well, I have drastically changed THAT opinion.

Shit.  3 1/2 hours.  THEY JUST KEPT PLAYING….

Of course, the first half of the show, while stellar and amazing and all kinds of zombie, held few surprises.  I did enjoy that they played the first song, Meet Me In The City, with the house lights up so all of us could see all of the other people, and the E Street Band could see us too.

I found myself remembering every damn one of The River songs.  Apparently they made more of an impact all those years ago than I thought.  Particular highlights:  Independence Day, Jackson Cage, Out IN The Street, The River, Point Blank, Cadillac Ranch, Fade Away, Stolen Car, The Price You Pay, Drive All Night, Wreck on the Highway.  Holy pasta, Wreck on the Highway!

One of the things I found most endearing about Springsteen live is how much he craves connection with his audience and fans.  He was constantly – CONSTANTLY!- walking the front of the stage, grasping hands and high giving, laughing with delight at the signs people held.  Adorably, he pulled a woman out of the audience to dance during “Dancing In The Dark” – and she was wearing a shirt that said “I Love Dancing In The Dark”!  He also had a runway that looped around about the halfway point of the floor, and he came out through it four damn times – the first time, he leaned back and had the crowd body-surf him back to the stage.  I am certain several members of the audience got a handful of BossJunk…

Last time, we saw Clarence Clemons play sax.  It was his last tour. He seemed fatigued, and spent much time sitting on a chair.  Tonight, his nephew Jake was playing sax, and spent as much time running around in front as Bruce did.  And during Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, they played a montage of Big Man photos and videos on the screens.  I was a bit surprised to tear up…

In particular, I enjoyed that they ‘took back’ “Because The Night” from that Patti Smith character.  Highlight during this was a BLISTERING spinning guitar solo from Nils Lofgren that melted faces.

I also have to mention that Max Weinberg’s work on a relatively small drum kit (Are you WATCHING, Neil Peart?) was fucking amazing.  it was propulsive and impeccable and he never flagged. The sound drove the band and was consistently deep and resonant.   An amazingly athletic performance.  Thunder Road indeed…

But the final and enduring thing I have taken away from two Springsteen concerts is this:  how much damn JOY the band has in playing these thundering, full-of-life, anthemic music, sharing the joy with as many people as will listen, and they are so thrilled that this is their life, and that 20,000 people will jam into a barn to join in.  Many times, Bruce allowed the crowd to sing the first refrain of a song, grinning  wildly.

During the show, the band members continually danced around each other, sharing microphones, and mugging for each other. They seem to sincerely delight in their work together, and love to work together.  Steve Van Zandt in particular spent some time manipulating Bruce’s face….

Over the course of , what, 33 damn songs?  Many of which got stretched and expanded to cover Springsteen’s time playing with the audience.  3.5 hours, people.

meanwhile, the Republicanuts had their final debate.  How long was it?  2 hours?  Which event do you think added more life and joy and sheer GOOD to the planet?

Over the course of 33 songs, the band drove the audience into the heights of joy; people, many of them old as I am, into dancing and screaming and just having as much fun as they possibly could.  Joy and Thunder and songs about sex and pain and life…with guitar.  Was zombie happy?  You tell me….

There was a time when I would have scoffed at a Springsteen show.  I was young and confused.  I think many people would say that a Springsteen show is a bucket list item; I saw him once before I died and now I’ve seen him after I died.  I can recommend it, especially if you can do it with two of your best friends, like I did.  It’s good for your health to experience loud joy.

  1. scott says:

    Has there ever been another artist who regularly turns the house lights on in arenas like that? It’s so jarring the first time…and then spine-tingling, to see 15,000 people jumping up and down at the same time–and, as you said, with joy, not some fascistic fury.

    Also, damn skippy holy pasta “Wreck on the Highway.”

  2. Mikey Hemlok says:

    Not much for crowds but I agree wholeheartedly with every sentiment here. So many great songs, so many great moments. Bruce was on the radio, on the stereo, in your head. You sang to the dog, you sang to your girlfriend, you sang just to sing the beautiful melodies and the perfect lyrics.

    My very first memory of ever noticing the MUSIC – not just the song, but the SOUND of the song – was Born to Run. That bell-like three note riff still sends chills up my spine today. The perfect story of Ragamuffin Gunner, of the Magic Rat, of a proposal to Wendy, the discussion of the concept of sainthood in the city, of month-long vacations in the stratosphere, junior johnson runnin through the woods of caroline shoulder to shoulder with great friend warren zevon – powerful mojo, my zombie friend.

    In the seventies I had a huskie-collie cross and a puke colored slant six dodge dart, and wherever either of them are today, they can still hear the faint sounds of those Springsteen anthems that were the soundtrack of their lives…

  3. another kiwi says:

    Good on you Mr. Zombie. Gettin’ the joy.

  4. Hey, welcome to the visitors from Crooks & Liars1 And thanks to Honorary Zombie Tengrain, who is a fine upstanding gentlemen, no matter what all those people say.

    I always appreciate the uptick in traffic, and hope the visitors find something entertaining to read. But I would love to get some comments…

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