Can you tell what young teen Kay got me for Xmas? Definitely one of my favourite pressies......
You'll remember the Bruce Ticket of questionable authenticity that I received for my birthday from Mrs.Planarchy, I'm sure (it was only a couple of posts down the page what with the sporadic posting we're having here these days). Well it got me in to see the man last night at the Do⊀me. Was he any good? No, to use the title of his recent album, he was Magic! That was the short review. The longer one follows:
I last saw Bruce live at Wembley in 1985. It was one of the best concerts of my life (bettered only by the Clash at the Lyceum on my 21st birthday I think). So it was with a mixture of antici---pation and nervous trepidation that I slowly trudged into the Dome last night. Could he be as good as I remembered? How well would the new material stand up against the old (and I ask that as someone who loves the latest album).
I needn't have worried. From the opening chords of "Radio Nowhere" it was obvious that this was going to be another very special live performance. He wasn't here to go through the motions. Neither was he here to throw in a few new songs but stick to the old material in the main. He was here to rock our socks off with a very well crafted show which included most (all?) of the current album as well as much of his back catalogue. "Radio Nowhere" lead straight into "No Surrender" and so for the first 15 minutes or so he barely drew a breath and certainly didn't stop between songs longer than it took to throw his telecaster to a roadie and retrieve a replacement. Then we got a short hello London break and it was off at a full throttle once more. The highlight track at this point being a wonderfully re-arranged version of "Reason To Believe". The pace then reduced gradually as we moved into some of the moodier pieces from the 911 inspired "The Rising". There was still very little between-songs chatter other than the occasional jibe at George Bush (loud cheers) "But what are we gonna do about it?" He asks,"We're gonna sing songs, that's what. We're musicians, that's what we do." So, wanting to get his politics clear but not taking himself too seriously, a good sign I think. The pace then gradually increased once again as the man seemingly had no thought of stopping rocking. And the rest of the E Street Band? Well, Little Steven looked more like mother Theresa than ever, the Big Man was bigger than ever and Nils Loffgren remains one of the few plank-w@nkers I actually enjoy listening to. The rhythm section and keyboards remained as stable as ever, indeed the whole group continue to convince as a tight outfit and not just as a bunch of gang members following the boss. Much praise also due to "Sister" Susie on the violin, a new recruit to the E Street cause (as far as I'm concerned), and doing some excellent work.
The main part of the show finished with a sterling version of "Badlands" but within only a couple of minutes the whole ensemble were back on stage for the encore. This started with "Girls in their Summer Clothes" and then straight into "Jungle Land" before the house lights came on to the riff for "Born to Run" which pumped along like never before and made me supremely embarrassed that I ever covered it in my 'umble band days. I was certain that must signal the end of the show, how else can you leave an audience than with your greatest not hit, one of rock's all time anthems? But no, not Bruce. With the lights still up they (ironically?) lead straight through into "Dancing in the Dark". From there the harmoniums came out for a rousing rendition of "American Land" and now surely the end. But then Santa hats are given to the band, apparently, from my vantage point, by members of the audience. Little Steven's is the most comical and Bruce's is the closest to cool you can get in a Santa style hat (a Red Cowboy hat rimmed with white fake fur) so maybe this is not just something to come about by chance. When Bruce hollers "Do you believe in Santa Clause" I am in doubt as to where we're going next. "Santa Claus is coming to Town" as only Bruce and the E Street Band can manage is duly delivered and we are finally satiated. A two and a half hour show without a dull second. Truly excellent from start to finish.
He's back in the summer apparently and I hope I'm there again.
Full set list here if you're interested (and even if you're not, it's still there).