Shackled and Drawn


A discussion after the joyful noise that was Friday’s Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band show let to a friend asking me what does it for me? Why do I keep coming back? Why I have I seen upteen many shows? Still beaming like an idiot from the 3 hours we just witnessed, part dance party, part political convention, part tent revival, part depraved abandon, part baptism, all I could say was “All of that.” Early on in the show, Bruce promised our feet might hurt, our backs might shake, and you might still grin about it. One of my favorite television characters once said about great oratory “can lift whole houses off the ground.” I feel the same about performance of all kinds, but especially about Mr. Springsteen.

He delivered again.

It’s always great to hear songs you’ve always loved when they are performed with such conviction. The 19,000 voice singalong for “Thunder Road” is still in my head two days later, but the new songs and additional musicians that came to bring them alive were equally essential. I was a little worried about that after not really liking the last Bruce record all that much.

I remember watching one of the televised Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies some years ago and the Mamas and the Papas were being inducted. They had so lost a step that 8 singers were needed to help back them up. Springsteen and the E Street Band don’t need the help. The horn section, extra singers, percussion added to the fact that something new was being said, and despite it all “the rich guitar player being given a pass” was still a man of the people. And this people was still all too eager to be a part of something larger than himself. Collectively, we’ve all be at it awhile, and it was nice that the folks on stage haven’t lost a step.

There were a few presents for us long time kool-aid drinkers: “Point Blank” appeared and the last time I heard it live was in 1980 at the Aud, “Rendezvous”, which has only be heard on my Ipod and “Mountain of Love“, which might have been on the first bootleg I ever purchased. It was fun to see young fans enjoying the new material and the mix of other songs was pleasing to this old pro. Apparently, we nearly got an “E Street Shuffle” according to a set list making the rounds. But, it’s all good. It’s embarrassing to want so much from music (as the man himself once noted), but you occasionally get it and when you do there are no words to adequately describe that happy, buzzing sensation of your soul getting a musical feast. And to be a part of a 19,000 voice strong chorus on “10th ave Freezeout” just seals the deal.

Back to my friend’s question, it’s the music and the way it’s performed that gets you, gives your soul a stern talking to, and takes you to places you can’t give directions back from and a night on E Street is a sure a bet as you can get.


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