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.
Tonight’s Gaslight Anthem show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg was, at least in my mind, going to be an album preview, a taste of the new music to come. Alas, this was not to be. After the opening half dozen oldies but goodies, I was ready for the band to dive into the new material. Instead, we only got two new songs, the single ’45′ and “Biloxi Parish,’ which had already made its way into the intertubes by virtue of having been performed live once in Australia. I kept waiting… and waiting… and waiting… before it became obvious that this was going to be just a TGA small club show. That threw things off a bit for me emotionally, the anticipation of “Okay, will the NEXT song be a new one?” having to be replaced with “okay so I’m just going to jump around to everything I already know.” Which is not bad, by any means, just not what anyone thought it was going to be.
Michael Dorf presents
The Music of the Rolling Stones
Carnegie Hall, March 13, 2012
This was the most star-studded Carnegie tribute benefit show out of the five I have attended (Springsteen, R.E.M., The Who, Neil Young). The announced performers were strong from the outset, it didn’t feel like the organizers were scrambling for talent (which is what it seems like sometimes, with the lineup only filling out a few weeks before the actual show). That’s why it was so surprising that it was so uneven and ultimately unsatisfying.
Even I am not immune to the year-end listing process. Here’s my list of favorite/best shows of 2011. It’s so skewed as to representative of nothing except my particular universe – but it’s not like I’m pretending that 2012 isn’t going to be a laundry list of Springsteen and Afghan Whigs shows.
Tonight, Gorman Bechard’s Color Me Obsessed finally made it to New York City, and #1 Mats Fan Jesse Malin organized a homecoming party worthy of the movie, the band, and the fans. Highlights included Patrick Stickles from Titus absolutely nailing “Sixteen Blue,” Kevn Kinney’s lovely “Here Comes A Regular,” Tommy Ramone (who, you may remember, produced Tim) singing “If Only You Were Lonely,” – the list goes on, and on, and on, but was capped off (in my opinion) by the video above, Craig Finn and Tad Kubler doing “Within Your Reach.”
This was only my second Wild Flag show, having been out of town the first round of club shows. I paid full price to see them at Radio City, opening for Bright Eyes; even from 15 rows back in the canyon of Radio City, they ruled, and hard. With the space and the echo, that was where I first realized that the thing they reminded me of more than anything was Isle of Wight era Who – the lengthy jams, the interplay of drums and guitar. I know, you will tell me that you cannot compare a band that does not have a bass player with the Who, let alone Entwistle-in-a-skeleton-suit era Who, but somehow they are channeling that spirit.
THIS IS NOT A BAD THING.