Sunday, August 23, 2009

Concert review: a steamy night in Mansfield, Mass.

So uh... I went to this concert last night.

:D :D :D :D :D

I had a reserved seat last night (I'm in general admission for tonight's show). I usually prefer GA, but my seat was absolutely terrific, I chatted with some very nice people in the seats around me before the show, I could see almost everyone on stage almost the whole time, and I'm pretty sure I got at least one actual moment of eye contact with Steve Van Zandt (don't dare go so far as to speculate that he recognized me from Chicago, but he did look right at me when the lights were up and nodded happily... who knows if he was actually looking at ME but I'll take it).

Where to begin? The show kicked off with "Jackson Cage," a not-often-played song from The River that I was actually thinking about the other day & wondering if I would ever hear, and went from that right into "She's the One" which was just the most perfect segue. Other highlights were "Point Blank," a song I was totally obsessed with when The River first came out (I used to sit in my dorm room and listen to it over & over, picking up the needle at the end of the song & dropping it back at the beginning of the track), and on which Garry Tallent's bass playing was nothing short of stunning and exquisite; "Burning Love" (yep, the Elvis song); a particularly heartfelt and almost wrenching "Backstreets"; "Trapped" (a Jimmy Cliff song, which Bruce has been covering on occasion for some years now and it is always fantastic); a rip-roaring "Detroit Medley" launched by a request in the form of an actual blow-up doll wearing devil horns and a blue dress (for "Devil with a Blue Dress," part of the medley) -- Bruce and Stevie had some fun with the doll before the song, and while they were playing, Stevie took the red-haired wig from the doll and plopped it on top of Bruce's head -- too too silly, and ridiculous fun; "Born in the USA," which doesn't get played much anymore; and a raucous, barn-burnin' "Twist & Shout" to close. They played about 2 hours and 50 minutes, I think.

Not the best E Street show I've ever seen, but a damn fine one, probably in my top five. As hot and sweaty as it was (before "Rosalita" Bruce hollered, instead of his usual "is there anybody alive out there" -- "is it hot enough for ya??" several times), Bruce had that "I do not want to leave this stage!" look on his face. I've seen it a couple times before. He is always whole-heartedly committed to his performance, but some nights he is just so totally fucking ON it's unbelievable. He seemed thoroughly happy, completely present, sometimes somber and serious, sometimes silly and playful, as the song and the moment required.

Oh, and Jay Weinberg (son of Max, the usual drummer) came out & drummed for the encore, which was fun as hell. He's not the master that his father is, but then, he has about 40 years less experience! For his age he is pretty terrific, and a HELL of a lot of fun to watch, very passionate and animated and clearly loves doing it.

As does everyone on that stage, really. Just such radiant joy shining on every face up there. I know it is their job to make it look like they are having a good time -- they are professional entertainers, after all -- but you can not fake that much joy. You just, you just can't. At this point in all of our lives, we know that every show is a blessing and a gift. Everyone in the band is keenly aware of that, especially after Danny Federici's death last year. They don't take it for granted, and neither do a lot of us in the audience. There is no other band on the planet today that speaks so eloquently about survival, and appreciating what you've got, and the kind of joy you can find only when you've made it through some hard times. And that's why I fucking love those guys and that music so, so much... and that's why I fly halfway across the country just to see them again. Because what they're telling me these days is something I want to remember. It's something I'll hold on to for the rest of my life. And for that, I thank them.

And tonight, I get to do it again. I am so very lucky. So very, very lucky.

1 comment:

Jessie Carty said...

damn i just love hearing about these concerts! and i so need to go..i so need to go to one!