because the night
bruce springsteen & the e street band
nassau coliseum, 3-10-08
I feel like a lapsed member of my religion, not paying attention to setlists and show reports (at some point I realized I was in setlist blackout so decided to stay that way until Seattle and Portland). We weren’t even going tonight, until the better half announced that we should, and found us two tickets behind the stage for under face. It was unexpected and I feel unprepared and a tiny bit out of place, until the band comes onstage and slams into “Night.” Hey, ma, I’m home.
So I am still not consulting setlists, although I do know that tonight’s rarities were not the rarities that sparked the purchase of tonight’s tickets. However, needless to say that a setlist where I get “Night,” “Adam,” “Incident,” “Jungleland” and “Because The Night,” “She’s The One” and (even) “Ramrod” certainly is well, well worth the money, even if the energy onstage was more than a little off. When Bruce came to the back of the stage for “Living In The Future” all I could think was how tired he looked. But, as we discussed on the way home, average performance + super-rarities = excellent. I would be feeling much differently, and much less charitable towards “Waiting On A Sunny Day” (hey, at least it wasn’t “Out In The Street” as the family of five [two parents + 3 Bruce-bait] in the front row were requesting) if it had been this sloppy, out of sync performance with a very average setlist.
Moments tonight: “Because The Night” – Nils played a solo that Patti would have approved of. I was struck how this song was for so long the bridge between my two worlds. Bruce did it, Patti did it. It was the song that J. Michael Stipe guested on with Bruce during VFC for obvious reasons. This song was visible reconciliation at a time Bruce would go uncredited on Street Hassle to avoid guilt by association (as per Lou). I have written about this and spoken about this but it was a big, huge, enormous deal for me to have this tangible connection between two artists who were so vital to my existence at the time. Age 14.
Age 14. There was a young boy in the front row of the pit tonight who couldn’t have been more than 14 or 15 and to watch this kid totally lose his shit when the intro to “Jungleland” started was a treat to behold. Not that I wasn’t totally losing mine. “This one’s for Nassau Coliseum” was the invocation – not that a set that opened with “Night” wasn’t highly referential already – but he was doing his best to invoke the vibe. I never saw him at Nassau but I know this vibe, it is in my bones, it vibrates as part of my daily frequency. On good days it drives the car. On bad days it’s sitting in the back seat but it’s always there, reminding me of who I am.
“Jungleland,” Bruce standing in the spotlight with the guitar aloft, that archetypal pose, the rock and roll warrior, guitar as sword, as instrument of battle. He faced the four directions, the four sides of the audience in tribute and in homage, to who he was and who we were, and then the song began. I think again, age 14, when allegiance to that record was a battle cry, a stake in the ground, a position statement. I hate the whole cell phones aloft thing at concerts these days (fuck you, Hewson) but the little blue lights glowing in the crowd that indicated that hundreds of people all over the world were listening to this moment with us was genuinely moving. Who do you call to play “Jungleland” to? Now there’s a question.
All of this aside, the setlist still has pacing problems and thematic disconnects. He keeps doing this odd, fucked up trainwreck segue where he goes from something deeply spiritual into something trite, or vice versa. Tonight it was “Sunny Day” into “Incident.” At MSG it was “Meeting”/”Jungleland” into “You Can Look…” For a person who is so invested in the art of the setlist this is inexcusable.
I do not like “American Land” any more than I did four months ago. We did the reprehensible, which is edge up the aisle towards the exits as though we were amateurs. Ah, the earth-quaking, booty-shaking, sexy-making E Street Band. See you in a few weeks. We’re bringing a sign for “Hungry Heart”.
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