the boston tea party: magic, part 3
Springsteen in Boston
11/18 & 11/19/07
So let’s get a few things straight: Sunday was not the epiphany that people made it out to be. I know a lot of people who had fun on Sunday because they were with friends, or hadn’t seen a show in a while, but let’s call a spade a spade. Bruce was not feeling well, his voice had very little power, and the E Street Band was playing on different frequencies for more than a few songs. He mumbled the “Living In The Future” rap and forgot a key line (the one about “your circumstance”) and then he trivialized (I thought) the end of it.
But, the good things: “Tunnel” was amazing to hear and “Jackson Cage” also a nice visitor, and it’s hard to find anyone sane that’s going to argue about “Jungleland,” ever. The big difference that made the show for me was the crowd. The crowd is what made “No Surrender” into a goosebump experience instead of a shrug of the shoulders. MSG night 2 may have been a better show, and maybe a better “Jungleland” in terms of pure musical performance, but the crowd was flat and empty. In Boston, the crowd elevated the band, and Clarence nailed the sax solo with incredible power and precision.
But if I had had to fight for tickets to this show (they were put in our hands by yet another wonderful ticket fairy) I would have been pissed. There, I said it. I know, I know, every show is a wonderful gift and if I don’t like it I don’t have to go. This is an argument I am so tired of having. Going to multiple shows gives you the perspective of being able to differentiate between average and outstanding. Night 1 in Boston was average. Average in the Springsteen world is still better than many bands’ soundchecks, but still a disappointment. It made me feel that the tour had not progressed one iota past the last time we saw the band, and made me wonder if the band being on what can only be termed “long rest” (to be tiresome and use a baseball analogy because I am lazy, and because it is the only other comparable thing) between shows is a very very bad idea.
And then we had night two, which came out of nowhere. The band was tight, Bruce was focused, and the setlist brought you shock after shock – to people who take a lot to shock at a Springsteen show. You want to think you’re going to get some tour rarities at the last night of a leg, but no one expected every goddamn organ song in the world to make its way onto the setlist and be played with love and joy and energy befitting 10 or 20 years earlier. “10th Avenue” was a shocker but then again it shouldn’t have been, not this night. But “E Street Shuffle” *and* “Kitty’s Back” in the same show? And then “Sandy” for good measure?
(Astounding to me sometimes that I can say “20 years earlier” and be speaking from experience.)
There are other things to note, that “Working On The Highway” is retaining the water spray from Reunion, and I still like it as much as I did on Reunion, and that the redeemable thing about the performance of that song is that Bruce is channeling Elvis on the Louisiana Hayride, which can never be a bad thing.
We have decided that even with the Joe Torre benefit and Steinbrenner seats aside, that Bruce Springsteen is a fairweather baseball fan. No self-respecting Yankees fan would have given the Red Sox that kind of moment. And to bring back the Fenway shtick about “that team from – from- from – New – HAVEN” was silly. Except, of course, the Red Sox fans will cheer anything they can right now, and good for them to. MMmmmphf. (That’s the sound of righteous indignation.)
There were about 20 enormous BIG MAN or CLARENCE banners behind the stage on Monday. Was there an anniversary I was unaware of? The winning signs were the person in the front row of the upper deck with the florescent “Be True” sign (that said “Thanks Bruce” on the other side), and the big bedsheet THANKS BRUCE, WE [heart] YOU that appeared during the encore, also in the upper deck.
And I know I am finally old, because the waving of the cell phones during the encore break just breaks my heart. The boyfriend blames Bono, but it is not entirely his fault. On the one hand I am glad we are not smoking so we do not have lighters in the profusion we did even 10 years ago, on the other hand I will go grumble about the good old days and go put on my first pressing of Wild & Innocent (with the yellow title). I will accept my curmudgeon-dom with good grace. Let me know if I am making room for you there.
(I am aware there are things I may not have touched on but I have another piece I wrote for Backstreets and until I know if it is to be published I do not want to recycle the ideas here.)
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