punk: attitude! on IFC next week


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Bruce Springsteen: Storytellers


“Tell me I can’t cry because my mascara is going to run,” I pleaded.
“You can’t cry because your mascara is going to run, and you’re going to be on television in a few hours,” the boyfriend kindly offered.

It was Monday afternoon at 3:15pm. We are at the Molly Pitcher Inn in Red Bank, New Jersey, and have just walked out of the conference room in which VH-1 was handing out tickets to the lucky attendees of the Bruce Springsteen Storytellers broadcast.

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u2 on snl

The rule is, of course, that all bands look bad on Saturday Night Live. Heck, even the Stones did in 78, that studio compresses bands into a tiny box and for the most part, loses a lot of the power of a performance. It’s not surprising that people choose to or try to lip sync, given this fact.

“Vertigo” wasn’t bad, kind of rough around the edges (lol) but in a good way, but still, the performance just felt compressed. “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” was kind of flat, but then again, I don’t think much of the song particularly, so I can’t attribute the lackluster performance just to SNL. Larry and Adam have aged well; Edge still is the Edge, and Bono…could use a stylist.

So after the first two songs, I was about to come in here and type a brief note. I didn’t turn the TV off for some reason (because, my god, that show is embarassingly abysmal) – I was toying with the idea of doing some late-night manuscript formatting while watching a West Wing rerun.

And then I heard those chords, you know, the ones that for U2 are their shot heard ’round the world, their “Satisfaction,” “I Will Follow” (and yes there are songs that were bigger and sold more and my mom probably knows, say, “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” but not “I Will Follow,”) but the chords are just so alarming and ringing and brain-burning memorable. And, sure, jumping out into the audience might not be the most original thing ever done, but how many bands *have* done it on SNL (counterpoint: how many bands could get away with it and not worry about being asked back). Yes, Bono sticking his face into the camera lens is getting old, but that was two tours ago and there’s probably someone out there who doesn’t remember.

The end, when Edge came down off the stage and joined Bono, followed by Adam, it was probably the first spontaneous moment on that show since Elvis Costello traded “Radio Radio” for “Less Than Zero” (and the imp of the perverse who lives under my desk is tugging on my leg and going, “Come on, you don’t really believe that that wasn’t rehearsed and scripted,” and the truth is I’m not sure, but I would so very much like to believe that it wasn’t.

But it was powerful, and it was big, and loud, and very U2, and I’ll be heading for that rumored free show on Monday, for sure.


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