Monday, November 12, 2007

This Magic Moment

Once again, your intrepid 1600 team (or at least a majority thereof) was at the MCI Center on Veteran's Day to witness the triumphal return of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to Washington. No, that isn't a deafening chorus of boos* you heard that Sunday night (and again Monday, no doubt), that was about 20,000 standing, cheering, transfixed fans bellowing "Bruuuuuuuce!"

Yes, even as Jerry was busily editing that day's interview with DC's ska- soul legends the Pietasters, Steve and Bob were off doing what they do best: slacking, drinking, dancing and singing, albeit off- key and painfully hoarse to the familiar tones of the Boss and his all star band, sounding every bit as good as they did 30+ years ago when they became American icons! (Look for that 1600 icon show sometime in 2008) They were all there- Max Weinberg getting a hall monitor pass from Conan ("Potatoes") O'Brien to tour with his old Boss, Little Steven taking a break from his weekly Underground Garage radio show to trade licks and harmonies with Bruce and Patti, and of course, Clarence Clemons, nattily attired in black, including a felt fedora looking very much like an extra from the cast of American Gangster.

And while not the four and a half hour marathon that made Bruce and E Street famous in their 70's and 80's heyday, this performance was a solid two and a half plus hours, featuring some old favorites, as well as a majority of the songs from their most recent release, Magic.

As expected, the setlist varied little from previous nights. "Radio Nowhere" was a great launching point, and the band slipped right into a powerful and moving reading of "No Surrender", followed by "Gypsy Biker," "Magic," and "Reason to Believe" (and no, he didn't cover Rod Stewart and the Faces). All of the new material, including "I'll Work for Your Love," "The Devil's Arcade," and the closer, "American Land," written during the We Shall Overcome- The Seeger Sessions release from 2006, were all solid and tight, and stood up well beside classics like "Night," "Tunnel of Love," and "Badlands."

The relentless pace kept up virtually non-stop, with occasional asides by Bruce as the band toweled off and rehydrated, laughing with the crowd once again as he commiserated with the people living in "this wicked city." One unexpected moment came when "Growin' Up" was added to the set as a preface to other early favorites "Kitty's Back," and the song that put them on the map, "Born to Run."

I also note that while Nils Lofgren and Miami Steve Van Zandt played a number of blistering leads, Springsteen played just as fiercely, and dazzlingly as his bandmates. Bruce has always been acclaimed as a peerless performer and great songwriter, but his skills as a guitar player have often been overlooked. And while he doesn't need to showcase his skills to improve his reputation, it should be noted for the record that his style is not flashy, but unique, understated, and tasteful, without a lick ever seeming out of place, wasted, or over the top. I can't say that for a lot of the critics' darlings that get more exposure and credit, without either the chops or the catalogue that Bruce can claim.

The upshot was a very satisfying evening, nearly 30 years after my first E Street show. And it sure isn't gonna be my last!

*Unlike the deafening chorus of actual boos heard this August at RFK in the final game played there between the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants, when the now indicted Barry Bonds stepped in to pinch hit, grounding out to short. Those boos were laced with cries of "cheater," "loser," and "bum," which were also not heard during the E Street Band's performance at the Phone Booth.

Steve Sez:
BONDS RULES!!! Who gives a shit if he lied about what he put in his body. Most people my age have lied many times over about what they put in their body. And it sure as hell isn't the government's business anyway! Jail time for this? Are we crazy? The next thing you know someone will get impeached for lying about a blow job.

So now the home run king and the hit king won't be in the baseball hall of fame. The way I see it, it's like Foghat and Rush not being in the rock and roll hall of fame. Bonds can now join Rose, Lonesome Dave and Geddy in a line of hall of fame injustices.

And speaking of injustices:
--OJ was only trying to get his stuff back so he could pay off Fred Goldman.
--Britney's not the only parent who ran a red light with her kids in the back seat.
--84 minutes in jail sounds like a long time to me as I'm sure it did to Miss Lohan.

By the way Springsteen Rocked!!! Growin Up into Kitty...nuff said.

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