Rick's Head

Evolution, not Revolution.

Reflections from Asbury Park

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At 49 years old, my first Springsteen concert is in the books, and I need to process what I have just witnessed.
The Hype: The guy who sold me a beer before the show asked me “have you seen Springsteen before”? After I replied No that this was my first time, he replied “well you are in for a real treat”. The dude had wicked BO so it was hard for me to focus on our interaction at the time, but later I understood. I had very high expectations heading into the show, perhaps too high. I can safely say my expectations were exceeded.
The River: The first two hours of the show were dedicated to The River, the 1980 album that he described as his “first adult record”. I didn’t know how that was going to go, given that I only know maybe a third of the 21 songs. When we saw Stevie Wonder perform “Songs in the Key of Life” there were many moments when I found myself looking at my watch. This didn’t happen with The River. Sure, there were a couple songs that made good bathroom-break material, but overall, viewed as a complete work, beginning to end, I found it to be very engaging, sometimes moving, and occasionally extraordinary. It didn’t matter at all that we knew so few of the songs from that record.
After The River: When “The River” portion of the show ended, he gave his band and the audience about 20 seconds to gather themselves before launching into Badlands. The transition was breathtaking and thrilling. He then played for another 90 minutes, knocking out one huge song after another. I love The Rising, and was very happy to have the opportunity to see it live. The six-song encore was perhaps the finest, most intense and entertaining 30 minutes I’ve ever seen in any concert.
The Boss: Bruce himself, at 66, is an amazing physical specimen. He basically did three-and-a-half hours of continuous calisthenics, bouncing across the stage, side-to-side, and front-to-back. He fell back into the audience and crown-surfed for 40 feet during Hungry Heart, still holding his microphone and singing up to the ceiling. He brought a 91-year old lady and a teenage girl on stage to dance with him during Dancing in the Dark. I’ve never seen any performer put out that much energy on stage. Never…not even close.
The Band: With the possible exception of Nils Lofgren, there are no virtuosos in The E Street Band. Individually, they are fine musicians. Collectively, however, they are the finest rock-and-roll ensemble out there. When The Boss describes his band as “the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, love-making, earth-quaking, Viagra-taking, justifying, death-defying, legendary E Street Band” he is not overselling anything at all. Wow. Wow. Wow.
OK, I Get it Now: At the beginning of the show, after the lights came down, Bruce greeted the crowd with a “…are you ready to be entertained? Are you ready to testify? Are you ready to be transformed?” The crowd was clearly ready to do all of these things, but it was at the end where I truly understood what he meant. Had I been transformed? Hell yes I’d been transformed. I’m not sure I’ll ever look at a live show the same way again. It was an exhilarating and, yes, transformative experience. I was left with two questions: Why did we wait so long to do that? When can we do that again?
Truest
Line of the Night: Jen, looking over at me, after another amazing moment, and saying “I think we are witnessing a genius.”
The setlist, for those of you who are interested in such things:
  1. Meet Me in the City
    — Beginning of The River —
  2. The Ties That Bind
  3. Sherry Darling
  4. Jackson Cage
  5. Two Hearts
  6. Independence Day
  7. Hungry Heart
  8. Out in the Street
  9. Crush on You
  10. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
  11. I Wanna Marry You
  12. The River
  13. Point Blank
  14. Cadillac Ranch
  15. I’m a Rocker
  16. Fade Away
  17. Stolen Car
  18. Ramrod
  19. The Price You Pay
  20. Drive All Night
  21. Wreck on the Highway
    — End of The River —
  22. Badlands
  23. No Surrender
  24. Prove It All Night
  25. Backstreets
  26. Because the Night (Patti Smith Group cover)
  27. The Rising
  28. Thunder Road
    — Encore —
  29. Born to Run
  30. Bobby Jean
  31. Dancing in the Dark
  32. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
  33. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
  34. Shout (Isley Brothers cover)
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Written by Rick

February 29, 2016 at 11:59 am

Posted in Like of the Day, Music

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