This was, quite simply, a fantastic show. The performance was tight but still full of life and energy. The band was in excellent spirits. And most importantly, the songs are not only ready to play live, they are so much better in person than they were on SNL or that 30-minute aftershow. I walked out thinking, “Wow, now I am excited for the album” as well as, “Wow, that TV special did not do them any favors.” The difference, at least to me, was night and day.
There has been excitement and there has been anxiety and there has been sheer fucking joy leading up to this first Replacements show since 1991. I walked through the gates of RiotFest and had a moment. I had another one when I purchased an official t-shirt. It was one of those I can’t believe this is actually happening but it is actually fucking happening moments that just well up and take your breath away.
I didn’t know what to expect when the boys finally walked out on that stage. Would I burst into tears? Would it fall flat? Did it possibly stand a chance of meeting my expectations?
The answer to the last question was a hearty FUCK YEAH, said with as much volume and emphasis as you can muster.
Concert Review: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Estadio El Molinon, Gijon, Spain, 27 June 2013
Springsteen in Spain is hot and loud and smoky and bouncy and pretty much everything you know about from the Barcelona DVD. The fans started the queue on the Wednesday the week before the show, and by the time we arrived on Sunday night I was just happy to be under 200. (By comparison, I arrived at the Dublin queue at 4pm the day before the show and got number 163.)
It had been a few years, me and Charlie and Keef and Ronnie and Mick. Sure, I saw them at 12-12-12, but the last time before that was 2002. I wouldn’t have even been here were it not for those magical $85 tickets, the Stones hating the scalpers so much they were doing everything they could to keep them out and get us in. The $85 tickets entitle you to a random envelope with two tickets in it; we had horrible seats in very upper level and just when I was resigned that at least they were side stage, but worried I wouldn’t be able to stand and dance, at 8:50 a gentleman appeared at our section with a stack of tickets and we were magically upgraded downstairs to the first level. Where there was plenty of room to dance, and no one sat down for any reason except to catch their breath.
Walking onto the floor and seeing the Rust Never Sleeps set at the other end of the Barclays Center was this combination of disbelief and deja vu. I never got to see the Rust Never Sleeps tour; by the time I read about it in Rolling Stone it was long gone, and I used to sit in front of my stereo with the records and bemoan that I had missed what had to have been one of the most amazing things ever.
“Steven is the part of my brain that always wants more.. More…louder…”
— Backstreets Magazine (@backstreetsmag) October 17, 2012
Many words will be written about this night in its entirety, but right now I just want to talk about the highlights for me, personally. I was up in the balcony, which had to be 80% die-hard Southside fans, if not more, reminding me of the old adage that you can tell a Southside fan because they hope that Steve (not Bruce) will show up.
I was never a Southside diehard, I owned the records and loved seeing the Jukes live, but it was just not my thing as much as it was for some of my friends. But I loved the songs — who wouldn’t love those songs? — and one of my favorite parts of E Street history is the story about Steve singing the parts to the horn section and Bruce saying, “He’s hired.” (When I got to watch him conduct the horn section at the Carousel House, it was about as close as I would ever get to witnessing that live.)
Bruce walked onstage all by himself and began the show with a solo acoustic “Factory” (dedicated for Labor Day), and I started to get goosebumps. Every show I have been to recently where he has begun the night in this fashion has always been off the charts. Bringing the band on next and pushing these dirty, snarling noises out of the guitar could only have been “Adam Raised A Cain,” and the flame was lit here for real. I am somewhat of a connoisseur of this particular number (some might say obsessed) and I am personally not sure he could ever play “Adam” unless he meant it; it would feel hollow, empty, forced. You have to imbue it with the tension and heat that was there when it was written. The horns were in on this, too, as well as Curtis and Cindy, and although if you’d asked me in advance how I felt about that, I would have told you that I would have preferred “Adam” straight up, it just added to the texture, gave the song additional depth.
As part of the crowd that joined the TGA fan club on day one* I got to go to the “Live At Letterman” taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater tonight, for a live webcast. The band were the musical guest, and then they emptied the theater out and filled it back up with friends, family, some VIP’s, and us, the great unwashed. The band played a brisk 45 minute set, which you can watch right here.
I know better, really, I do know better than to fall for amateurs who insist that, say, U2 are playing at CBGB on a Tuesday night in the 1am slot because they looked up every single band on the bill and have never heard of Hoover Monkeys before and they know U2 are in town rehearsing and Larry Mullen once played in a band where the lead singer once said he liked monkeys and if you can’t see HOW CLEAR IT IS then you don’t deserve to see them.
I have had these conversations a lot over the years. I believe in the lottery aspect of the secret club gig or the unannounced appearance, that if you happen to be there because you want to see the act booked on the bill and lo and behold someone else shows up and plays then that is the serendipity of rock and roll. Or if you figure it out, like Gary and the Boners at CBGB, then, hey, good luck to you. This is why I never saw Springsteen play with Cats on a Smooth Surface in the 80s, because everyone overlooked the fact that Cats sucked complete and total ass and I could never bring myself to borrow my roommate’s car to drive down to Asbury on a Sunday night and sit with 500 people who were staring at the door instead of the band all night.
So when my friend Matthew, who just moved to NYC, sent a note pointing out that Bernard Fowler, who has sung background vox for the Stones on tour, was playing a gig the Friday night before Jagger’s SNL appearance, with half of Living Color (who, of course, were discovered by Jagger and who opened for the Stones), along with Alexandra Richards (yes relation) DJ’ing, I did what any self-respecting New York rock fan would do and sniffed at it.