Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band @ Giants Stadium

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
@ Giants Stadium
East Rutherford, NJ - October 9, 2009

"Wrecking Ball" is such a cheap sop, his rhyming of "balls" with "ball" proving how his songwriting has rapidly declined this decade. The filler cuts from the recent records sprinkled throughout the set, emphatically set in place by his church-like revelry, stink. And what is up with that...wait...wait...HOLY CRAP I'M AT THE BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN CONCERT.

The Boss and the most famous backing band in the history of Rock n Roll sent (and set) Giants Stadium off with the exact kind of show this unit has been known for well over 2 decades now, even 3. And Springsteen sought to signify this farewell with the performance of the record that ushered in the era of BIG in the Springsteen liturgy - Born in the USA. When Michael Jackson died, I immediately thought of how "Beat It" was arguably the first song I remember knowing and singing along to. "Born in the USA" was number 2. As these things go, the King of Pop quickly faded in my musical life, but Springsteen kept coming back. The anthems from his older works, the legendary stuff from Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River all took a foot hold. In college, I appreciated all of Born in the USA, even with the 80's synth (a sound I've eventually come around to). For reasons even I don't understand, "I'm Going Down" is my favorite Bruce Springsteen song of all time and when it was performed before the insane crowd at Giants Stadium, I died a little. And even the music from this decade, in which his stature is almost impervious, considering records that by and large blow the big one are cherished, there are individual tracks that are not only the finest on those records but the finest songs of our time (and that included the churchy one "The Rising" that the band did play this night).

But let's strip it down a bit. This is the man who made Nebraska. And played the Bottom Line in the dank heyday of New York City. This is the man who wrote a song intended for the Ramones. He's also the man that can turn his glossy, too-perfect-for-their-own-good emporioum of musicians back into the greasy bar band they used to be and into a prime soul-rhythym and blues-and-blues machine. The Boss' guitar chops are underrated and he can stand toe-to-toe with the insanely good Nils Lofgren. And look over there - isn't that the dude I know from CBGB's and Mercury Lounge gigs back in the garage days of the mid 2000's? You know the guy with that radio show that sort of saved rock n' roll this decade? Oh right that's Little Steven Van Zandt who before the Undergound Garage and before he was on The Sopranos was kind of the heart-and-soul of the E Street Band (what? Clarence Clemmons isn't the heart-and-soul of the E Street Band? How can you say that? Because Clarence Clemmons isn't the heart-and-soul of the E Street Band. Clarence Clemmons is the heart-and-soul of Bruce Springsteen).

All these thoughts dancing through my head as this spectacle unfurled before me. Eventually, I just let go and took it in. For one night - and only one - I was from New Jersey. But if Bon Jovi had shown up, I was out of there.

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