windows are for cheaters
I like to think that I am flexible, that my mind can change, given the right context or a good argument. On Friday afternoon, driving to Portland in what can only be described as blizzard-like conditions, I was all full of diatribes against the encore (omg do I still hate “American Land” with a passion not seen since my hatred of “Dissident” in Pearl Jam setlists), about how Bruce is taking things too easy, that I appreciate his need to spend time with his children but dear god in heaven, get on the f’ing charter jet one hour earlier and yes we all know that you don’t go onstage at 7:30, but to go onstage at 8:40 is unconscionable…
…and no, I don’t need to go to any more shows. I am happy to be here with my friends but the boyfriend can head down to the Carolinas, I will wait for the last arena run.
Famous last words.
Now, let’s keep in mind that there was plenty of grumbling internally because of Friday’s performance. It is very hard to find fault at a performance, of, say, a recitation of the Long Branch white pages when one is in the front row between Stevie and Soozie with your best Springsteen friends, but I also know that he turned up at 7:30pm and frankly, the performance felt like it. “For You” comes out of nowhere, has no context, but for this one he doesn’t need the teleprompter and emotionally, he nails it. “Lost In The Flood” is grand and epic no matter what, almost, and I have seen him command the blimp nest that is Giants Stadium with a performance of it. Friday, he was fighting so hard to conduct and keep the band on tempo that he had to pace back and forth at one point to find the emotional space to return to the vocals. There were some serious trainwrecks going on… and “American Land” feels like the white carb emptiness that it has all tour, no matter how much fun people seem to be having (you know how much fun they would have to, say, “Seven Nights To Rock”? I bet just as much, and they wouldn’t need the words on the screens to sing along after the first verse.)
But there were other moments, mostly during the Magic numbers, where the mastery and the concentration and the presence reminded you and made you angry simultaneously, because it IS a very good record with very good songs that deserve focus and attention. And being able to watch him conduct the band, direct Max, hold everything together from that vantage point (which is different now because I have done it a dozen times – not to sound greedy or spoiled, but the perspective is different when you have done it before because the first 10 times, trust me you are FREAKING THE FUCK OUT THE ENTIRE TIME).
Saturday I was exhausted, jetlagged, and feeling the difference between doing GA for Rising and doing GA in 2008. I was grateful for great seats and good friends and the ability to have a meal before the show, but I was equally envious of the folks on the floor of Key Arena below me. (I have only sat in a seat not on the floor at Key for a show once, and that was Black Sabbath, which I’ll let you think about for a little while.) I was optimistic that this was going to be a good show, because Bruce wouldn’t embarrass himself in front of the members of Seattle’s heavy metal community (for those of you who remember “Almost Live”) and because it was Saturday night and he wasn’t commuting and maybe we would actually get a soundcheck and a good setlist.
I wrote about that show for brucespringsteen.net so you will need to wait for my thoughts on that show, but I came downstairs this morning in Seattle and asked the boyfriend, “So when are those shows again?” And it was a lot of things, but mostly that this is the stuff that reminds me of who I am, and that last night was my first Rosie with the boyfriend, and that we still haven’t seen the E Street Band live together enough yet. And although Seattle was my 49th show (what do you do on 5 hour plane rides??), really, I am not done with any of this, and Bruce really hasn’t done anything – “American Land,” even, can be forgiven – to make me say goodbye just yet.
So I’ll see you in the Carolinas.
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