Springsteen on Jimmy Fallon, 2/27/12
The performance was, quite honestly, amazing.
It was amazing because they are clearly rehearsed within an inch of their life, and everyone looks good and healthy and strong and the playing is strong. I predict the usual start-of-tour roughness we are all accustomed to will just plain old not exist in the early shows.
We got routed to the platform on stage left, in the front row right above Roy. As anyone who has ever read my show reports previously will already know, that is the location we almost always end up sitting in, without fail (and frankly given that Roy is one of our favorites, a preferred location). We seemed to be the fans closest to the band (fans as opposed to random people who got tickets to Jimmy Fallon and weren’t even sure who was Bruce Springsteen from behind–I wish I was kidding but I am not) and so as everyone came out of the dressing room under the platform on stage right and carefully wormed their way into their places (everyone is there, including Curt Ramm, Patti and both Curtis and Cindy, which did not leave a lot of real estate on that stage) it was one of those “Oh, hey, Garry!” moments, where you feel like you are seeing old friends but they of course have no fucking idea who you are. That said, we got a lot of hellos and nods and smiles from everyone, including a funny moment with Roy as he stepped into place right below us, and with Patti as some asshat behind me kept yelling ‘HEY MRS. SPRINGSTEEN’ and I finally said ‘That’s Ms. Scialfa to you, buddy’ and she HEARD ME and made eye contact and laughed.
It was all kind of surreal, and I say that as the person whose last E Street show was the Carousel House.
“We Take Care of Our Own” felt like a warhorse already, it felt stronger than the Grammys version, it felt like everyone knew what to do and when to do it and the differences between the recording and what that manifests as in the live set is a done deal. Bruce seemed more comfortable with the material and the band and I guess maybe no one ever looks comfortable on the Grammys (especially not Bruce) so maybe that’s not a fair comparison. But I thought they just kicked it out solid and hard and it’s going to be a great, great show opener.
I had refused to try to look at the prompter or the notes clearly out in the open on people’s instruments in order to avoid the spoiler for the next song, but then accidentally saw the prompter, and then Bruce turned around and specifically asked us to respond during the next song on the line “hear your voices call” so the jig was up. I still don’t like “Wrecking Ball” any more than I did the first, second, or third time I heard it live, or any of the times I’ve heard it on the album (that’s a whole other post in the works, but I have always said that I find the song as interesting musically as I find it boring [and pointless] lyrically). The only lines in the song that really touch me are the “And all our little victories and glories have turned into parking lots,” which reminds me of my dearly departed Shea Stadium, but that does not redeem the rest of the song, even if it was performed as well or better than I’ve ever seen it performed.
It was fun to be That Person who knew all the words and all the moves already, and I didn’t give a damn about who thought I was Queen of the Dorks about it, the whole point of being on the Band Bench is because you are, well, fans of the band, and not random good looking people who happened to get tickets to this show (way too many people at this performance in my opinion). As always, I love a sidestage or behind stage spot to watch the interaction, to watch Nils literally conducting the musicians, to watch Bruce and Steve come together at the mic, to watch Roy play the notes I’m hearing and know are coming, looking down and there are his hands on the keyboards, right below me. It was fun to watch Jimmy rocking out at his desk, and it was fun to watch Julianna Margulies (one of the guests, who I love love love) rocking out in her seat as well. It was great fun to watch the off-camera, between song hugs and joking and encouragement between the entire band, every person, from Curt to Curtis to Charlie to Steve, lecturing the idiots from Jersey behind me begging for a guitar pick
This may be premature, but for all of the dreading and worrying and genuine, heart-felt teeth gnashing on my part over What On Earth Will I Do With An E Street Band Onstage Without Clarence Clemons, it was overwhelmingly a feeling of THERE THEY ARE and HERE WE ARE and the songs being big and bold and loud and now, very much of now, right here, this moment in time. It may, and probably will, be very different when I am in the arena at a proper show, and they all walk onstage one at a time and Garry is where the Big Man was and I have to deal with a horn part in a song where all eyes would go left, but for tonight it was okay, very much better than okay.
My esteemed colleague and collaborator has his perspective on the night is up over at his place.
Courtesy of NBC, perfomance clips!