quick notes on bruce in bridgeport

Bruce Springsteen
Bridgeport, CT

There’s a running joke among Springsteen dorks that only Ed Norton (yes, that Ed Norton) is allowed to request songs at a Springsteen concert. The reason for this is that when he did, we got “The Promise,” “Incident on 57th Street” and “For You” solo piano back at the Staples Center in 1999. (And, Ed, thanks.) Add to that list now Mr. Jesse Malin, who was responsible tonight for my first (and quite likely only) time hearing “The Promise” live.


I honestly felt like I had seen this tour, I had gotten this tour, that intensity or a good mood aside, I didn’t need to go see more shows in multiple quantities (especially at close to $100 a ticket after TM charges). So Bridgeport was a quasi-spontaneous, the boyfriend deciding we should go and we should see a show together (our only shared show this year being Storytellers, I know, fuck off, yes we are spoiled). It was the kind of night where we were resigned to standing in the drop line hoping for a miracle, or bargain shopping in the parking lot.

The result was two tickets in section 115 for $50 total at 7:45. They weren’t great but they didn’t suck either. And after “The Promise,” right about the time I stopped floating about six inches above my seat, the boyfriend said, “See, *this* is why we came.”

No fucking shit.

So Buffalo had all these debuts (I wasn’t watching setlists because, well, I wasn’t, I forgot he was back in the States, and once I wasn’t watching it was easier to not watch so that Bridgeport could be a surprise, a clean slate, something it is rare for me to have the chance to do), and while Bridgeport didn’t, there were enough surprises (see above) and enough strong performances (again, see above), fine song choices (“Spare Parts” instead of “Part Man Part Monkey,” for example), excellent pairings (“State Trooper” into “Nebraska,” for instance) and general good humor (the current version of “Ramrod,” for example, or Bruce apologizing to the people who may have been unruly due to sound system problems: “But if that wasn’t it, go fuck yourself”) to make it an outstanding show.

And while we’re allowing Jesse Malin to request songs forever, Don Ienner (head of Sony Music) should be put in the penalty box for “All That Heaven Will Allow”. As the boyfriend put it, “Of all the songs on Tunnel — that one??!” It was sweet, don’t get me wrong, but a little bit of a train wreck coming after “The Promise” (not sure what could come after that song and not be sadly inferior, though).

We’re down to only about 5-6 Devils & Dust songs at this point, down from 9 at the tour’s peak; but at this point you could see every show and see 6-7 different songs each night, which, for Bruce, is remarkable.

In the audience tonight was Alan Vega from Suicide, the band that wrote “Dream Baby Dream.” I’m interviewing him next week (as it so happens) for both Backstreets and the paper I’m presenting at the Springsteen symposium in September (yeah, more on that later), and the first thing I think I’m going to ask is how it felt to watch a bunch of white boys in backwards baseball caps pumping their fists and shouting along to “Dream Baby Dream”. In its original format, this is not an anthem, this is not an exhortation, it is anything but that; as my friend Amy Phillips put it best in her review of the Tower Theater show (scroll down), “‘Dream Baby Dream,’ when performed by Suicide, is one of the scariest pieces of music of all time. Alan Vega sounds like he’s about to kill Baby. But Bruce turned it into a straightforward love song. No! This song is about nightmares! Not sweet dreams! Damn you, Bruce!”

Now, if you’ll pardon me, I need to figure out how the hell I can get to another show. Because one is never enough and I should know better than that by now.