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Bruce Juice Part 2- Lately there ain't been much work on account of the economy.... - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
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Bruce Juice Part 2- Lately there ain't been much work on account of the economy....

A day or so before Paul McCartney's sold-out Buffalo show last fall, I had a similar offer from a friend for a last-minute single seat- on the floor.  I passed on it- Sir P. just isn't quite the same solo as with the show I'll never see, and that night just wasn't right for some reason.  Last night's opportunity was a bigger draw for me, but at a greater distance- and I jumped at it.

It helped that the wreck-it weather of Thursday had passed on; Friday was cold but clear, by yesterday everything was thawing, and today it's close to 60F.  (It'll be cold and snowy again this week, though.) So I made the final arrangements Friday to come in before the show on Saturday, meet the friends for dinner beforehand, and get the actual ticket in hand.

The in-between day also gave us time for contemplation. For the lead performer, that consisted of contemplating Great Art!



After an intense performance, there's nothing like a little R&R.

For Bruce Springsteen, whose sold-out show Thursday night in the First Niagara Center is still ringing in music lovers' ears, it came in the form of a visit to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. One patron snapped the Boss admiring a particularly appropriate painting by Matisse, the 1939 masterpiece "La Musique"....

According to an Albright-Knox patron who asked to remain anonymous, Springsteen "spent a lot of time" with Albright-Knox Director Janne Sirén, and "went through the whole museum, thanked everybody, very sincerely."


(No word on where the rest of the band was- although there is a Chippewa club called Bada Bing, which might have been too much for Sil to resist;)

Meanwhile, the pre-show review from Rochester quoted legendary E-Streeter Nils Lofgren asking this question:

“Why would you want to play such long shows, sitting in a hotel room looking at the walls, missing my wife?”

Loyalty, perhaps? Basically, tours are structured on three considerations: making money, logistics and making money. But there has long been a feeling in Rochester that maybe Springsteen likes us. He played the city and college campuses here before he became an arena-sized act. The U.S. and Canada leg of this tour hits 35 cities, and Rochester is by far the smallest venue. By 5,000 to 7,000 seats, according to an estimate by Blue Cross Arena General Manager Jeff Calkins.

Indeed, at one point during the show, Bruce asked us rhetorically, Isn't this a great place to play? The important thing is that he thinks so, but the realities do make you wonder.  "Blue Cross Arena At The Rochester Community War Memorial" is its official moniker, but it's almost universally referred to by either just the first three words (if you're under 35 and went to a public school) or just the last two (if you're over 35 or went to a private school).  Unlike public arenas in Buffalo, Albany and most of the rest of the country, the War Memorial's little changed from when it opened in the 1950s. A minor reno in the 90s raised the roof to add a little capacity, replaced all the seats (with retreads from a Cleveland arena which was being torn down for an all-new place), stuck in a few luxury boxes and added a few frills.  But the concourse, legroom and aisles are all for 1950s-smaller people; there is minimal wi-fi and, at least when 13,000 wired fans are all streaming selfies and videos at once, even the cellular service in the building is crap. And unlike events at MSG and the former Coliseum last year, the sports banners are all raised above the rafters, out of view.  I'd wanted to get a shot of the town's only major-league championship banner in real time:



(Oh. That one's in a display case someplace. Thanks, Internet!)

I only mention the failings because of how lucky the city is to still be on the radar of amazing shows like this. Sports franchises and leagues are increasingly demanding the replacements of their pleasure domes on a 20-year-or-less cycle. The Atlanta Braves are abandoning a 1996 Olympics venue for pastures that are greener (and some believe whiter),  where they will control more land and amenities, Similarly, St. Louis just lost its NFL team because its indoor stadium wasn't good enough anymore. That one opened in 1995- a year before our current arena did in Buffalo, and a real generation after the current Rochester arena did.

The Flower City's chances of getting in line for something better are somewhere between slim and none.  The Technology Three which dominated the city's employment and skyline- Kodak, Xerox and Bausch & Lomb- have moved their HQ's away, become shadows of their former selves, or both.  Political parties are fractured, between and within city and suburbs, and the area has never had much influence at the state or federal levels when it comes to public projects. When they do show up, everyone there fights over whether to build them, where to put them, who to run them- and eventually the projects just die.

Just like the Johnstown Company:(

----

But for now, at least, the city, the arena AND the tour were there, so I made the most of it.  Dinner was at the India House, one of the relatively few places I can remember enjoying ourselves in my 1984-1994 life there.  Two of our party had to go to the arena earlier to try to get floor seats close to the stage, so I brought Scott's wife downtown, found a parking spot and my own seat just as the band was coming out, and we then did our farewells and food exchange close to midnight....

And then I got pulled over by a cop.

Between the ringing ears and the concert high (just the music- the air was remarkably Ganja-free), I'd forgotten to turn my headlights on.  Once I saw the lights behind me, I instantly knew I hadn't- and why: I'd parked in virtually the same row of spots I use for court all the time at 9 a.m., and I just didn't associate that spot with, you know, dark. Plus with all the streetlights and passing traffic- crowd control cars, State Street was well lit-up even without.  Once I told the cop I was coming from the show, and he confirmed that I wasn't drunk or buzzed, he let me go and commanded me to arrive home safely....

Which I did, a bit past 1 a.m.  My legs are still sore, the ears are still ringing, and the cellular capacity of that building still has to improve- but I am far better for all of it:)

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