There has never been a bad Bruce Springsteen concert. Know this before reading the following article. Biased, as I am being a fan, the truth is he rocks every venue like it’s the Stone Pony. That little Jersey shore bar where it all started so many years ago is alive and well. The spirit born in that room the size of your corner bar explodes out on whatever stage The Boss is playing. Now, the neighborhood-watering hole, there’s a great place to start. Every concert feels like you’re going down the block to see a friend’s band. Their glad you came and you’re happy to be there. That’s a Bruce show! He’s our buddy that made it big.
Part of the magic that occurs is the on stage chemistry of The E-Street Band. When those house lights go down and the band takes the stage it’s with smiles and energy. It’s not the 80’s anymore and one might expect to see a walker bound boss fumble over center stage. Instead we see Nils Lofgren whaling on the guitar while bouncing off the corners of the stage. He puts a usually stoic (and much younger) Slash to shame. Jake Clemons filling in for Clarence keeps that big man charm and smooth sax sound alive. Mighty Max Weinberg beats those drums like he’s sending signals to Mars. And every Martian is rocking out. He keeps beat with every “One more Time” from Bruce. If you’re frequent show goers you know the Boss can really expand a song.
That chemistry is most evident between Little Stevie Van Zandt and The Boss himself. They bound on stage like buddies that poured out of the bar and into the street looking for a good time. They bounce off each other singing back to back and jamming like it’s going out of style. These two have had ups and downs cause their partnership is a real friendship. Last but not least, except maybe singing talent, is the Boss’ wife Patti Scialfa. She may be the boss in the home but needs to stay away from the microphone on stage.
Springsteen is pure endurance and stamina. Standing before 50,000 fans at MetLife stadium last night August 23, Bruce performed for four solid hours. Solid’s the operative word. Every inch of the night was filled with music and the rare exception was when Bruce explained the most important songs of the night. He took a poignant moment to discuss his strained relationship with his father. As he describes his father was “non-communicative”. They only way Bruce could talk to and about his father were through songs. Forty years after he started his career Bruce broke down and asked his father “which songs of mine were your favorites”? His dad responded, “the ones about me”. This led us into a haunting and beautiful performance of Independence Day.
The whole tour is a recreation of The River 1980 album/tour. Just like 80’ his stage show was a must see. Bruce belted out 27 songs including a surprise appearance of ‘Santa Clause is Coming to Town’. Also among the unusual performances were ‘Brilliant Disguise’ and ’41 Shots’. 41 Shots is deeply controversial to those that don’t listen to the lyrics. It has upset police at the time of its release on the heels of a police shooting which killed a small boy. In today’s social climate the song’s lyric, “you can get killed just for living in your American skin” is a theme we can all understand. As Americans today we have become targets and as Jersey natives we know you need to remember the rules on the street.
The night took a hometown tone, as the Jersey native was glad to be back. When the first of eight encores began the show was three hours along. An hour later when Jersey Girl, the finale, hit the stage the crowd erupted in joy. Sensing the end we all listened reverently to the summer song praising the shore and the ladies that live there. No one wants a Springsteen show to end, Including Bruce!!! He’s a workingman’s hero but sometimes forgets that the workingman needs to be up in the morning. Regardless, the man and his band left the stage without missing a beat and leaving the fans wanting more.
Don’t take my word for it. Springsteen and The E-Street Band’s ‘The River’ tour 2016 is the highest grossing live stage performance of the year. At 66 that’s not too bad!
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