I wrote a track-by-track breakdown of Quadrophenia on Billboard.com for its 40th anniversary this month.
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.
It’s your band; you wrote the songs; you get to decide what to call it. We get to decide if we want to show up or not.
In celebration of this auspicious event, I present the very ‘Mats-centric chapter of my first novel, over at Scribd.
part 1. the waiting.
It is hot inside of Nowlan Park, and then it rains. And then it is hot again. If you are close you are standing on metal plating, which has no give. You sit, you stand, you sit again. People with wristbands but no magic marker tattoo on their hands try to encroach upon your territory; it creates your ‘tribe,’ it bonds you to people from the Netherlands and Greece and Switzerland and up the road in Belfast. At this point you are having conversations like “We sat next to each other in Stockholm…”
There are rules in my house about sign requests, that we don’t bring signs for cover songs, that we don’t bring signs that request items, that a sign should be for one song only, that it should be a size that will not block the people behind us. We have tried hard over the years to think of signs that will get picked or would get played or that Bruce would find amusing and therefore would get played.
We arrived at the Victoria & Albert Museum at 9:45am, thinking we were late and had just missed our 10am ticket entry time–only for the guard to tell us the museum wasn’t opened yet, but that when it did open, we just had to walk straight ahead to the entry for the exhibit. And we stood there as the crowd grew and grew, and people walked up and said that they were there for the Special Exhibit but didn’t have tickets, and the guard told them that there were already 400 people waiting upstairs (we took the subway route from the South Kensington tube station, so were underground) and that they had to go up there. I clutched my tickets tighter.
This show was a bonus. We had already booked our trip to Spain and Paris, with some extra days after Stade de France to enjoy the city. Then HRC got added and there was no way we could be in Paris if Bruce was playing in London. Despite my advice to other people to consider carefully whether they want to stand in a field all day and despite my insisting I would never do this again (a big consideration as to why we skipped Nijmegen), we bought tickets and booked the first train on the Eurostar (which everyone started calling the ‘Bruce-star) Sunday morning.
There is not much I can actually say about this show. Tonight I wrote the News report for Backstreets, which is more detailed than the reports I usually file for Brucespringsteen.net and there isn’t much I left out of the Backstreets report.
It was a Saturday night in Paris on a BITUSA anniversary and what you got was what we got the third night in Stockholm, a show for the people in the back row and the people on the side and the people drinking beer.