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Bruce Juice Part I- Meet Me in the City - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Bruce Juice Part I- Meet Me in the City

For the first time all year, I didn't post yesterday. I was kinda busy.  So today there'll likely be two (if not, well, tomorrow's an extra day anyway): one about the show itself, and one about the whole experience.

We have to start with the music.  These musicians demand and deserve that.  Bruce scheduled this tour to celebrate the 35th anniversary of The River double album, but the band itself is a year away from its 45th anniversary.  So many memories, so much talent, an incredible amount of cohesiveness.  And so incredibly diverse- from E Street consiglieri Little Steven in his do-rag, through Max Weinberg blowing up the drum kit in a vest and tie, to the amazing talents of mad-hatted Nils Lofrgren (who may have given the single most virtuoso performance of the night on "Badlands").  Oh, and the youngest member of the group, Jake Clemons on the sax.  Nephew of Clarence, original bandmember and the dear departed heart and soul of the whole band, last night was Jake's 35th birthday, born, in the USA, in the year of this night's signature album.  At times, his riffs and presence were so evocative of his Uncle that I almost cried out Clarence's name, instantly crying inside instead.  Other times, with the camera of the big-screens focused on him-

he looked more like the love child of Clarence and the Saturday Night Live 70s version of Al Franken.  His appearances got some of the biggest applauses of the night, especially on the most signature of his uncle's songs.

And oh, so many of them.  Two hours of the show were contents and out-takes of The River, beginning with "Meet Me in the City" and ending with Bruce, solo and contemplative, on "Wreck on the Highway."  He intoned: “The River is about time. You realize you have a limited amount of time to do your work, raise your family, do something good.”  Once he said "do your work," I knew what was coming next, and next after that.  Doing good is always part of the band's live experiences: this night's, it was representatives of Foodlink, the Rochester area food distribution network for the needy, passing the cans on the ways in and out.  Giving them their 15 minutes of fame and likely tens of thousands of dollars of donations is what makes what Bruce was born to run.

Beyond that seriousness, everyone in that building was plainly having fun- and in a friendly, we're all family, kind of way.  I was seated away from the benefactors of my last-minute opportunity- the three other people who could only get tickets by buying them apart- and I wound up next to a woman similarly separated from her husband a section away.  We both had amazing seats- third row of a lower bowl section- and her husband's was comparable, so I offered to switch with him so they could sit together.  He appreciated,but declined- he'd just had knee surgery and had more legroom in his solo spot.  But they were close enough to commute, and she went over to him for the final few songs; I looked over at them a few times and smiled, knowing that the closeness of family is one of the most important things to this man's message.

But Papa Bruce don't preach all that much better than anybody- unless it's in song, and those came one, after another, of evocative experiences. First was the runthrough of The River itself. I must confess I don't know it as a coherent whole- yet. (Amazingly, none of the stores I checked this morning had the original in stock, only offering the $120 box set this tour promoted. I ordered the original online for under 10 bucks). But I know enough of the cornerstones of the piece to muddle through, and gained a real appreciation for how Springsteen mixed upbeat and thoughtful, intensely personal with all-encompassing anthem.  As the local critic summed it up on his 50-something-th attendance with the Boss:

The River is Springsteen's rock opera of life.


Once done with the album, the band moved right into the meat of their almost half century of legends.  "Badlands." "Born to Run." "Because the Night." A personal favorite of mine (and favor for siercia, who missed it on her Bucket-List attendance) was "Thunder Road."  I tried not to spend the entire evening with my phone in the air, but I needed at least a few seconds of that anthem for myself and for her:

And then there's "Dancing in the Dark." Everybody knows the trope- ever since Bruce randomly ::koff:: selected Courtney Cox from the front row to dance onstage with him in the music video, the front rows all try to beg and sign their way onto that part of the show. Plenty of guys were pleading as well, at least one troth-pledger was asking for a dance with Jake Clemons instead, and my friend Scott's 12-year old daughter Ari brought one for Dad to hold up, reminding the Boss that he waved at her when she was 4, so of course he should pick her now.  Instead, Bruce saw another sign, one that said "IT'S MY MOM'S 65TH BIRTHDAY- LET'S DANCE!"  And did they- Mom not only knew the moves, but she knows guitar, and they brought out a match for Bruce's axe for them to finish off the song together.

So much love exchanged with the whole house- Bruce spent probably close to half an hour shaking hands, not just with the front row but with a couple of ventures into and around the pit.  He, and many in the band, remembered the fans behind the stage and played to them several times. On one of the final songs, Little Steven brought up an Aminal muppet doll from someone in the front row and busted percussion moves with the doll over his Boss's head.  And what else to end with in Western New York (both in Rochester and here two nights before) but with "Shout," the Bills theme song?

We walked out four hours after the scheduled start. There's more to tell about the before and the after, but for now I'm sure of one thing: maybe everybody's got a hungry heart, but mine, on this day and in this glow, is a happy one:)

2 comments or Leave a comment
siercia From: siercia Date: March 1st, 2016 09:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

Perfect snippet of a clip.

A friend of mine turned this up this morning, and it is fascinating.

captainsblog From: captainsblog Date: March 2nd, 2016 03:00 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Great stuff, that. For some reason, I have an unplugged version that Bruce did of the song, which I don't even remember when or where I heard it, which comes up on my internal playlist even before the album or any live version.

Thank you also for the link, because this was on the sidebar:
2 comments or Leave a comment