Monday, September 03, 2012

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band @ Citizens Bank Park

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
@ Citizens Bank Park
Philadelphia, PA - September 2, 2012

Three years after my first dance with the E Street Band, a sudden opportunity to head down to the old college town to see the gang again was offered. I took it - with the specter of a Meadowlands show in a few weeks already in sight.

It was good to take the trip down to see how Bruce handles the other side of his Jersey stronghold. When he's in the realm of Gotham, he's sort of the chief ambassador of rock n' roll not just for his generation but for all time. But he isn't bigger than the metropolis. He is part of it. Down in the Delaware Valley, he holds the same position but as this area has the biggest chip on its shoulder this side of Cleveland, he seems to hold an even more sacred spot. Unfortunately, he also seems to have to share it with Bon Jovi, the poor bastard.

So it goes. But more important than that, maybe more important than relishing in the concert itself, maybe more important than finally seeing Max Weinberg with the band, certainly more important than hearing the new songs, even more important than finally hearing "Rosalita" and "Tenth Ave Freeze Out" live, it was how to handle it all now without Clarence. In looking back on my review of the 2009 show, I made short mention of Clarence Clemmons except to point out that he was not the heart and soul of the E Street Band as many thought. Little Steven had become the heart and soul of the band. Rather, Clarence Clemmons was the heart and soul of Bruce Springsteen. So it was going to be a trying but needed task to see how the Boss would still be the Boss without his musical essence. He got through it. And so did the band. Jake Clemmons, son of Clarence, is more than up to the task and all those other cliches you can write up. He's in. It's done. He's good. We can't ask for more. How I got through the pause after the only verse line in 'Freeze Out that I understand is a miracle.

Speaking of miracles, Elwood D Pennypacker is not a godly man. Far from it. Maybe if churches were really like the one James Brown ran in The Blues Brothers, I'd sign up. But Springsteen's church routine, going on for a decade now, is addictive, even as it wore thin from the get-go. The fact that the Divine Spirit of Rock n' Roll and Soul is the purported deity at work, clearly makes it OK. If there was more of the increasingly Celtic side of the new sounds, that would have made it perfect.

And speaking of James Brown, it's nice that Bruce has taken up the mantle from that legend, of being the Hardest Workin' Man in Show Business, right down to a "I'm done, I'm done...NO WAIT!" sequence. Just like in the transition of the Clemmons family, there couldn't be a finer successor.


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