Monday, April 6, 2009

Musicalia: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - Austin, TX

Seeing The Boss is a slightly different experience than seeing Leonard Cohen to be sure.

Jackie and I arrived at the doors about fifteen minutes before they were done giving out lottery numbers for the floor at the Frank Erwin Center. When the winning number was drawn, we ended up 250 people back in the queue. Upon finally being let in, we found ourselves standing about five people removed from the center of the stage, and unlike what people had told us about previous shows they'd attended at the Erwin Center there were no chairs set out on the floor.

Ho. Ly. Shit.

How this happened, I'll never be sure. But it did, and neither of us will ever complain about our vantage point for the show.

Seeing Springsteen that close, I can safely say that if ever a man were to claim the title of The Hardest Working Man in Showbiz now that James Brown is gone, it's Bruce. For two hours and forty-five minutes of rock bliss, Bruce Springsteen belted out every song with so much vigor that it's hard to imagine him not having had a stroke on stage twenty-five years ago.

Earlier in the day, I had thrown in Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River on a lark, which was a good thing because the set was marked with "Badlands", "The Promised Land", "Prove It All Night", "Sherry Darling", "Out In The Street" and "I'm A Rocker", and they are weirdly the two albums I am least familiar with (I don't have them in a portable format, just LP).

They blasted out "She's The One", "Born To Run", "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" and "Jungleland", during which I nearly shat myself out of amazement. He gave me chills with his rendition of "The Wrestler". They killed with a rocked-out rearrangement of "Youngstown" and a rollicking "Johnny 99". I'm a perfect two-for-two on seeing "Because The Night", as well, which is fine by me because it plays really well. "The Rising" roused my spirits, and completed the feel of a recession-tinged show.

Even "Outlaw Pete" played all right, despite my general dislike of the song.

Moreover, he took requests three times, with "Sherry Darling" and "I'm A Rocker" having been taken early on ("Rocker" didn't get in until the encore, though), and "Glory Days" serving as an addendum to the encore after they were all ready to leave the stage. One of the best parts was that they clearly did not have a strong grasp on "Sherry Darling" and "I'm A Rocker", but they played them anyway, adding a good dose of unpredictability, especially when Bruce acknowledged as they started into "Rocker" that he didn't remember how it started. With the three requests, it meant we ended up getting two more songs than those jackoffs in Arizona.

Now, before the show, I asked Jackie what song she wanted to hear most, and she said "I'm On Fire" to which I (kind of dickishly) told her not to get her hopes up. Well, as soon as we got back home, I got a call from Mark (who was also at the show but was seated with Chad) to tell me that he looked at the hand-written setlist and "Sherry Darling" took the place of "I'm On Fire". Who's the jackass now, Jack?

Regardless, the show was outstanding, probably even better than the Dallas show Chad, Mark, and I went to last year. It sure as hell didn't hurt that I was often standing a mere 10-to-15 feet away from The Boss as the veins popped out of his head and neck.

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