The Blog Squad

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

OK, But ... He's Still The Boss

I was at the Bruce show last night at the Coliseum and just wanted to share a few thoughts, a couple of priceless moments and, of course, the complete set list, which true fans of the Boss love to dissect with all the relish of a forensic pathologist. As Dan Nieman mentioned in his review this morning, the sound was just awful. Longtime fans have no problem with this however, because we are hearing every riff, every grunt, every plaintive wailing note of Clarence's sax in our heads anyway. But it didn't do Bruce any favors with some of the newbies I was with — they just couldn't understand what he was saying or singing most of the time and except for his superhuman physicality, they just didn't get it. The music didn't grab hold.

But the rest of us, the anointed, got what we came for and more. The man gives so much of himself — plunging his whole body into the audience, letting them strum his guitar for crying out loud, hold his microphone, dripping his very sweat on them — that by the time he doused the throngs in front of him with a soaked sponge (a "New Jersey baptism"), you got the feeling that if Bruce decided to start a religion, there would be plenty of people lined up to drink the Kool-Aid.

Our seats were so close to the corner of the stage we could have tossed Bruce a football when he came to our side. (Dammit, how could I forget my football?) We were sitting five rows behind Bruce's mother, Adele, and his sister Pamela. He has another sister, and it might have been her also sitting with the family, but I can't confirm that.

I have to share the two funniest things that were said, not by Bruce, but by my husband who commented, "They shouldn't let Nils Lofgren stand next to Clarence Clemmons. He looks like a hobbit." And later on, as The Big Man got off of the, no kidding, golden throne he now sits on for most of the show and shuffled across the stage, "Clarence walks like your Aunt Ro Ro."

There were a few classic moments too. Bruce pulled some kid, maybe 10 or 11 years old, onto the stage and sat there with his arm around him singing "Spirit In the Night" like he was talking to a buddy on the boardwalk. He even let the kid sing the "All night!" in the chorus. He talked about Richmond, how important the town was to him in the Steel Mill days and brought Robbin Thompson up for the night's closer, "Twist And Shout."

At one point he grabbed a guy's sign which read, "My band just broke up. Please play "Backstreets" — Jesse. He obliged, and after the guitar solo, he slowed the song down and with a truly pained expression he said, "It's tough when your band breaks up." He paused for a long time, seeming like he wanted to say so much more, but he kept on singing.

Speaking of signs, I was shocked by the number of signs people were holding up with song requests, because I hadn't seen him on this tour yet. Apparently, what started out as a radio call-in song request gimmick has turned into a crazy scene where people are holding up signs with insanely obscure song requests. "Seaside Bar Song" anyone? Bruce actually wades out into the crowd, gathering up the signs and then sorts through them onstage deciding which ones to surprise the crowd, and his own band, by playing.
He gently mocked one fan who was holding up a sign for "Crush on You" from 1980's "The River."

"The band will go on record to say this is the worst song we've ever recorded," he said. And you know what, they did it anyway. —Janet Giampietro


Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
Radio Nowhere
Out In The Streets
Prove It All Night
Lonesome Day
Spirit In The Night
Stand On It
Cadillac Ranch
For You
Murder Incorporated
She's The One
Living in the Future
Mary's Place
I'll Work For Your Love
The Rising
Last To Die
Long Walk Home

Crush on You
Quarter To Three
Born To Run
Bobby Jean
Dancing In the Dark
American Land
Twist And Shout


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