The Boss in Boston
I promised a posting regarding Springsteen's solo shows this past weekend in Boston. Rather than write an essay, an activity for which I have neither the time nor the discipline on this very busy Halloween day, here are some random notes, in random order, on Friday night's show. Just a list: very bloggy.
- If you were worried that Springsteen's audience might be getting younger, you can stop now.
- An announcement over the PA system before the show requested that we shut up during the performance "due to the intimate nature of the show." As it turns out, "intimate nature" referred mostly to the fold-up seats on the floor, which were roughly 3/5 the size of a typical American's ass.
- As my concert companion and all-around smart guy Owen O'Donnell said, the best parts of the show were when Springsteen got weird: "Idiot's Delight" and "Johnny 99" through the bullet mic, the unprecedented "Dream Baby Dream." I hope the static yet building "Dream Baby Dream," which is ending almost all the shows, points to something new, just as the night-ending "Land of Hope and Dreams" did on the reunion tour.
- Maybe a show in which all the songs were distorted beyond recognition would be fun. It would be another way to give tribute to the guys in Suicide.
- In "Living Proof," "Part Man, Part Monkey," and a couple other songs, Springsteen sang as hard as he does over a full band ... thus making me miss the full band that much more.
- In Runaway American Dream, I countered Springsteen's offhand comment in Songs that he should have recorded Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J solo. Now I wonder whether he should have recorded Devils & Dust solo. Both on the DVD side of the DualDisc and in concert Friday night, he played the new album's songs more efficiently and persuasively without Brendan O'Brien's arrangements grafted on. If you're going solo, go all the way. Speaking of which, he played several D&D songs Friday night accompanied by an offstage synthesizer. Distracting.
- His between-song patter was brief, mostly rehearsed, and often about his own fame. It's as if his celebrity is the topic he's most comfortable addressing onstage.
- There was a guy in the row in front of me, a dead ringer for Boston mayor Tom Menino except this guy was tall (as are all men who sit in front of me at concerts), who would lift his fist or hold up his lighter whenever he heard a line that moved him.
- Really enjoyed "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)," on which Springsteen showed off his punk-rock piano skills.
- He's found yet another way to go at "The River" live. He's reframed this song onstage more times than Alanis Morrissette has rethought her only good album.
- Why does he keep saying he never wrote songs about relationships before Tunnel of Love, as he did introducing "Tougher Than The Rest"? Does he forget the years he spent writing and recording The River? Sure, "Fade Away" and "I Wanna Marry You" are outside-looking-in relationship songs, but so is "Cautious Man."
- Springsteen should never again deliver jokes that include the words "Flintstones" and "homoerotic undercurrent" in the same sentence. And interrupting the narrative of "Jesus Was an Only Son" to explain each verse before he sang it was messy.
- During an impromptu electric-piano "All That Heaven Will Allow," Springsteen seemed delighted during the solo when he hit the right notes.
- There was a poorly choreographed slow-motion stage "rush" at the end of the main set. As I wrote earlier, don't worry about the audience getting younger.
- "Growin' Up" on ukelele!
- I enjoyed the show. I really missed the E Street Band. There are many things Springsteen can do with them that he can't do himself, and very few things he can do himself without them.