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Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band – United Center, Chicago 2016-01-19

This set is a free download for two days only, folks. Get yourself to Bruce’s official web site and get your copy! Go Go Go!

Deke fired off an email to me last night, said Bruce Springsteen was giving away (for free!) the recent Chicago show (January 19, 2016) from his The River Tour as an apology for having to cancel another recent show because of the weather. That’s right folks, a free download! FOR TWO DAYS ONLY!  [if you’re reading this a day or two after this posting, you may be able to get your own! Go go go!]

First of all, this is really great of him. I mean, the weather isn’t his fault. And you know he’ll likely just swing back around and make up that missed date later in the tour anyway. But that’s The Boss, man. He really has a connection to his fans, he treats the millions like family.  Pure class.

Alright, let’s get into it…

We pick up the show as the band takes the stage and away we go, blasting through track after track of Springsteen bliss. He stops at a couple of points to talk a bit, saying the same things to Chicago he likely says in every town (we love your town! etc), and a bit about why he wrote The River. Then they blast us back to 1980 and play the entire The River album. Same track order, same awesomeness. Yes, you read that correctly The whole album, top to bottom!

Let me tell you, if really put to the task, I’d have a supremely hard time picking a favourite Springsteen album. I often say Nebraska, or… well, pick one. But I also often say The River. That double LP is just gold, man, and here they all are in pure live Bruce and E Street glory. You can feel the energy, the connection between band and audience. It’s obvious everyone is having a really great time… which is really something, considering that not all of that album is party tunes!

And as if that isn’t enough, they just keep on going with another pile of tracks after they’ve played the full River! This set is three discs, folks. It’s insane, and insanely good. There are so many great moments all over this disc, and you can sure tell it’s live – on No Surrender, Bruce needs a couple of re-starts to get it right! You can hear his banter with the crowd, his laughter with his band mates all over this set. He even does an gorgeous acoustic tribute to Glenn Frey with The Eagles’ Take It Easy.

I really should be going through this track by track, and in fact I started out making notes for just such a project. But after a while, I got pulled into the show and I found myself just listening along and loving it and realizing that all of the versions are great. I’ll leave the professional reviews to others, like Deke, and whomever else gets this and also writes it up! Me, I’m just going from the gut and rolling with the feel of it all. I wrote this as I listened, first run through. You can probably tell!

Early in playback, I was in a bit of an email convo with Deke and Da Heff, and it got mentioned that not many artists would still get up there and give ‘er for 3+ hours like these guys do, not after 40 whatever years and all those millions of miles. There’s only one Bruce, only one E Street Band, and thank goodness for ‘em.

Folks, this set is incredible. It runs the full gamut of emotion and energy level. It is relentless, and all of it is stellar – the band is such a well-oiled machine, the songs are all so strong… it’s really a can’t-miss event. They’ve got the crowd in the palm of their hand and there’s no where else any of them, band or crowd, would want to be but right there together. This isn’t just a concert, it’s communion.

WOW. Thanks for the heads-up, Deke! This really made my night!


Here’s the set-list:

Disc One:
Meet Me In The City / The Ties That Bind / Sherry Darling / Jackson Cage / Two Hearts / Independence Day / Hungry Heart / Out In The Street / Crush On You / You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch) / I Wanna Marry You / The River / Point Blank

Disc Two:
Cadillac Ranch / I’m A Rocker / Fade Away / Stolen Car / Ramrod / The Price You Pay / Drive All Night / Wreck On The Highway / Night / No Surrender / Cover Me / She’s The One

Disc Three:
Human Touch / The Rising / Thunder Road / Take It Easy / Born To Run / Dancing In The Dark / Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) / Shout

Whew! This was fantastic!

Bruce Springsteen – Lucky Town

In my last post, we covered Human Touch, the other of two albums released on the same day in 1992 (!). This is it’s fraternal twin!

First up is Better Days (hey Deke!), a great organ rock shouter. Lucky Town is one we all know, and the great useof the tambourine saves it. Local Hero is another great Bruce track that, frankly, could be a Mellencamp song too.

If I Should Fall Behind is a lovely, slower and quieter track like only Bruce can do it. Leap Of Faith is uplifting, right down to the backing vocals. This was built to be a gospel song, I’d say. The Big Muddy is an easy, bluesy southern-feel groove. Living Proof joins the long list of solid mid-tempo Bruce songs.

Book Of Dreams is a slow, beautiful tune, and then we end the album on two highlight tracks! Souls Of The Departed has a cool groove with the blues sewn in, and My Beautiful Reward is a gorgeous late-night highway tune, accented with acoustic guitar.

Oddly, it lists Bruce as playing “All Instruments,” but then goes on to list another dude playing drums, and on several tracks there are other people’s contributions listed as well. Surely he’s not confused as to what “All Instruments” means?

In Sum: Wiki says that, of the two albums released together, Human Touch was the more popular. It’s hard to disagree, that’s a great record. But I still think I prefer this one, it has a great feel all its own. So I suggest a compromise: play the records back to back and make it a couple hours of Bruce Greatness in your life!

Bruce Springsteen – Human Touch

Recently, I heard The Boss’ MTV Plugged album and loved it, as always. 1992 was a busy year for Bruce, with two studio albums released on the same day! My next post will cover the other in this pair.

Human Touch is pure Boss greatness. A surefire hit song. Souldriver* has a great old-time folk feel to its bounce rock. Yes, you read that correctly. 57 Channels (And Nothing On) dates itself, of course, and it’s a bit of a one-note bobber. But its Dire Straits feel and Bruce on bass makes it a cool track anyway. It helps that I agree with him – I haven’t had cable TV in my house since about 1997, there’s just nothing on.

Cross My Heart is slower, a simple tune, but it’s still a great Bruce song. Gloria’s Eyes is a driving rocker that didn’t quite grab me the same, but it’s okay. His voice really carries it. With Every Wish is gorgeous Springsteen folk, and I love the trumpet! I always love the trumpets!

Roll Of The Dice is an old school Bruce rocker, takes me back to the 70s. Real World* is a mid-tempo rock song, a feel-good keeper. All Or Nothin’ At All is a bluesy barroom banger, really kickin’ it, Yeah! Then we’re into Man’s Job* which is pop rock, that old school feel again, and it’s pretty damn okay.

I Wish I Were Blind is an album highlight. Has a My Hometown feel to it. The Long Goodbye is a big Bruce shout-out rocker, hell yeah! Real Man is an uplifting pop rocker that strains his voice a bit, needed a lower key. And Pony Boy ends things here with a pretty, acoustic/harmonica duet with Patti, in the old traditional style.

In Sum: This was fantastic! Thanks, Bruce!

* Additional vocals on these tracks listed as Sam Moore. Yes, that’s THE Sam Moore!

Bruce Springsteen – In Concert (Plugged)

1992 finds the Boss in concert at MTV and it’s a corker.

From the hilarious opener of Red Headed Woman to the gorgeous My Beautiful Reward, with lots of great renditions (both acoustic and electric) and some great soul-shouter exhortations to get the home audience to take their clothes off during Light Of Day, this disc has it all.

Bruce’s voice is in fantastic shape, the band does it up just right, and when it all ended, I found myself wishing they would just keep on playing for hours and hours.

Here’s all you need to know, past that:

Red Headed Woman / Better Days / Atlantic City / Darkness On The Edge Of Town / Man’s Job / Human Touch / Lucky Town / I Wish I Were Blind / Thunder Road / Light Of Day / If I Should Fall Behind / Living Proof / My Beautiful Reward.



The Boss, The Rocker, Massive Attack, Metallica, and This Is Also Radio Hell

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – Live at Superbowl XLIII

The Boss knows how to rock, and every show is a party. So many records over the years, so many hits. Pretty hard to deny he is, by now, an established living legend.

Story: I got invited by a friend to watch the Superbowl yesterday at the local Knights of Columbus. Big screens, free pizza, cheap beer, people hooting and hollering. Good fun. Not a bad game either. And the half-time show, of course, was The Boss and his gang.

They tore the roof off the mothersucker. In their short ten minutes they raised the patriotic fervour south of the border several notches beyond its normal pitch, too.

But damn, Bruce, I watched you try to jump up on that piano… Look, maybe 20 years ago it would’ve been a breeze for you, but that time it just looked slow and painful. Also funny was the mis-timed knee-slide right into the cameraman. Oh jeez.

Great music, high energy, and physical comedy too. Gotta love The Boss.

The Rocker

The whole time through this film, I kept thinking ‘but, we’ve already seen Jack Black play this kind of role. And maybe a bit better.’ But I shouldn’t be too hard on it, as the flick has heart and, though it’s completely formulaic, it’s perfect for a certain age group below, say, the age of fifteen. It had funny moments for the grown-ups too (like Will Arnett fronting a wanna-be-Poison hair band), but all in all it was pretty tame. Oh well. And now we’ve done that.

Massive Attack – Mezzanine

Have I already reviewed this record for this site? If I haven’t, I’ve been remiss. This is fantastic. I think the first time I heard it, Paul MacLeod was playing it on a boombox between his sets at the Walper Pub. Then we moved to Montreal and this type of music was everywhere, especially in the chic restaurants. This group’s work led me to Portishead, Morcheeba and Supreme Beings Of Leisure, among others. But I always came back to the tracks on this record. It builds from throbbing low ends to ecstatic highs, the vocals soar and caress, and it’s all done with intelligent and delicious power. Oh yes, this is a classic.

Metallica – Garage, Inc.

No matter what Metallica does (detractors take note), the end result is always powerful and sincere. Even if, as is the case here, they toss out a two-disc homage to the bands they cut their own teeth covering, all those years ago. In fact, perhaps it’s even more sincere, since it’s clear they were having a bloody blast the whole time. Metal fans will not be surprised by any of their song selections here, and they bring their own polished sound to these well-established tracks. Not much amiss, here. Turn it the hell up.

This Is Also Radio Hell

I have recently decided that most current radio is a form of arrested development. The Lite FM crowd hears the same shite over and over again as much as the Classic Rawk fans do. The limited rotations offered are appalling, no matter what you choose. How much can you listen to Can You Feel The Love Tonight or Sweet Home Alabama before even the simplest mind starts to chafe for something different, even from the same artist? It’s like they’ve only paid for the rights to play so many tracks and so they’ll hammer us to death with them. Ye g-ds. And I dont expect that people would only listen to new tracks at all times, but there has to be a happy balance somewhere, right?

The Ataris were totally right, on their track from that Fat comp called Short Music: it is still quite plain to see that the radio still sucks. I am sure I’m done with it. For quite a while, I should imagine.

James, Scott Weiland, The Band, Bruce Springsteen, and Serena Ryder

Here’s another batch…

James – Hey Ma

Everybody remembers Laid, but James has been around a long time and always makes really cool music when they’re at it. Hey Ma is full of captivating pop beauty, currently-relevant lyrics and uplifting musical generosity. This one should be huge. Get it.

Scott Weiland – Happy In Galoshes

Whatever troubles Weiland has had in his personal life, the fact remains that the man can write a catchy tune between benders, whether it’s for STP, VR or these sporadic solo efforts. This one has a lot of good single moments here and there, even an appropriate Bowie cover, but sadly this album is too scattered to be satisfying.

The Band – The Last Waltz

We watched this amazing film with friends on New Year’s Eve, which could easily become a tradition for me. So many phenomenal artists, so much beautiful music, one unbelievable concert. Truly a show you hope will never end. Forget our plastic culture’s mindless numbness to superlative – this one’s a true classic.

Bruce Springsteen – Working On A Dream

The Boss can still show off that carnival swirl of the old days, and lately he’s nurturing the good sense to slow things down more often. This record’s what you’d expect, actually. There are the inevitable dud tracks (Outlaw Pete, Queen Of The Supermarket), but the rest is solid Springsteen.

Serena Ryder – Is It OK

This artist only grows stronger with each new release, and she was bloody strong to begin with, as you know already. Her growing confidence lends pure power to her every move. Even better, there’s still that raw edge in her approach, which I’ve always found totally appealing. Each song here could be a single. I really, really liked this.

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