I Will Follow

So, a few buddhas of my youth have been touring on their laurels a bit. Both Bruce Springsteen and U2 celebrated or are celebrating albums from 30+ years ago. Initially I was of mixed emotions about this. Both are quite capable of putting out worthy brand new music and have new records in the can, but chose victory laps for highly regarded records from sometime in their past.

While initially I was in the “but the new record…” camp in both places, I’m shutting up. If a band can play like they mean it, I guess we should sit back and enjoy that. If the passion is there, it remains a sight to be seen. It’s our classical music. I mean nobody is upset that there isn’t any new Beethoven floating around.

When Bruce announced a tour to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the release of “The River,” I thought fine. The companion album of outtakes from one of the prolific periods of Bruce and E Street Band was a nice treasure and musically the band hasn’t lost a step. The steeple chasing spectaculars are definitely a bygone era for understandable reasons but these cats can play. The show wound up being a top to bottom playing of the River, an introductory outake and a mix of other stuff. I was fine with that. They were great. Treated myself to another show, and it was more historical as Springsteen released his autobiography. It’s a good book and again, hearing songs that don’t get much airplay get well played was great.

But….you get a little further away from new music.

I guess that is okay, as the group owes its fans nothing, having given their all for decades. Bruce’s upcoming Broadway (and likely West End) solo offering makes you think the end is in site, but you know he’s got more to say. The selfish fan hates to admit it, witness everybody calling into E Street radio to grouse. You hate to see the fear that the mass audience of the 80s might not be there be the reason. As the man himself said “what’s to be afraid about playing the new stuff? They’re not going to clap as much?”

I remember thinking, watching a show in Pittsburgh on this tour as Bruce and the band started “Incident on 57th Street,” that there was a noticeable increase in beer aisle activity. I thought if those philistines leave during “Incident” to get overpriced beer, they deserve to be stuck in line for the “Rosalita” that followed.

Stevie Nicks was quoted in Rolling Stone as not being interested in making a new Fleetwood Mac record because she is afraid nobody would buy it. I say if you have the muse, turn it loose.

This brings me to U2. I first saw them in 1983 on their tour for the “War” album. I “blame” their current tour on the success of the River tour. They are also celebrating a record I’ve purchased in many formats with “The Joshua Tree.” It is a great work. There is part of me that wants to go see them just so I can hear “One Tree Hill,” a long time favorite song of mine. They have always taken a long time between albums, so it was a little maddening that this victory lap was undertaken, but ever was it thus. A new record is coming. While I’m still deciding what I think of “The Blackout,” I’m happy they got a new record ready and when it is released, I’m sure I’ll snag a copy.

When Bruce puts out any of the finished records fans have heard about, I’d snarf that up as well.

People talk of nostalgia or greatest hits shows like they are bad things and I guess the shows shouldn’t be seen that way. Billy Joel tours regularly but hasn’t put out a new record in 20 years. Because he has such a vast catalog and plays like he means it, folks go to the show and have a grand time. I guess that would kind of be the point, wouldn’t it.

It’s our classical music to be sure. The seemingly endless supply of music related deaths over the past year or so makes a rock fan feel his mortality a little bit, that some of things that have always been there from when you first started looking in the racks at Twin Fair, National Record Mart, Cavages and the mighty Record Theatre are always going to be there in the mass quantities that they were. Even the music stores are going by the way side.

You feel your own musical mortality a bit as a rock fan when one of your heroes takes up a 12 week Broadway residency so he can go home each night. I can’t blame him. I just hope we meet again along E Street as Broadway is a little too pricey for this working stiff.

So hopefully U2 has a great show tomorrow, I’ll look forward to the bootleg, er, the download.


“I ain’t here on business…

only here for fun!” It’s hard to think of a two year old football stadium as hallowed ground, but the new Giants Stadium was pretty much that last weekend. My younger sister and I took in night number #2 of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band‘s stand at the veritable concrete bowl and had the expected fantabulous time with a great, great show. It’s fun to see your favorites in their natural surroundings

We were invited/privileged/astonished to watch a tailgate party come together with military like precision in the parking lot beforehand. The grill came out and with what seems a rapid fire succession of carnivore laden delights hit the flames. It made me think of Anthony Bourdain‘s line about how “sides are for suckers, you need that real estate.”

Sausages whose names probably ended in wurst led the hit parade. When the inferno below hit the grill, I was informed that the 6 inch by 19 inch foil collective was bacon. Okay, if you say so, sir.


Good sense says to look away, but you just can’t. The sight of corn on the cob following that made me laugh, like checking your vegetable karma before things got serious. A few of us stopped as we had to get a decent space for the show.


My sister has become a junkie for being on the floor during a Springsteen show. That’s funny because  she sort of resented hearing the River through the second floor of our childhood home, but osmosis won her over. Given the picture above, it’s not hard to see why you’d want to be in the midst of mostly kindred spirits. I’m slowly losing my tastes for huge stadium shows because things get cartoony, like bands overreaching to fill the big space.


I didn’t get that sense, perhaps being maybe 30 yards from the stage helps. I have to imagine the folks on the upper decks were basically watching the video screens, but it was an amiable mess of a good time.


Enjoyed myself immensely as always, thanks Bruce (and Kate), but as a palate cleanser here you go. With Bruce holding down Jersey, we balanced the weekend by heading to the northern most portion of the isle.




You can almost forget you are in NY at that point.

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.

Tramps Like Us

Gonna procure tickets for the umpteenth time to see Bruce Springsteen tomorrow. Since the first time I’ve done that the world has certainly changed.

The first instance was my best bud and I cobbling together our allowances, giving them plus the unspoken you’re going to give us a ride surcharge, to his older brother for the whopping sum of $10 for two tickets. Two years later, my mom cued up at National Record Mart and got us the tickets. I had a test, so Mom came up home with two in the first row of the upper golds of the aud (she got a cool story out of it and much respect from my school crowd) We rode with his brother again and might have spent the towering sum of $20.00 for two tickets. Got a chance to tell that to the man himself during a brief exchange of hellos in 1994.

Those were the days, no service charge and the souvenir shirts that you HAD to have were all of eight bucks.

It tells you something that the economics have shifted where you look at a concert ticket and think a $75 price tag ain’t terrible. But the evil ticketmaster will mess with us all to be sure. Stories of the computers freezing up between Live Nation and other shows going on leaving mostly the working folk out in the cold peering into the windows of StubHub.

And that $20, that is still around, as the “convenience charge”  for printing at home.

Been at this awhile…Got a feeling this will be for my age bracket what say, the Foo Fighters show was in September for a slightly younger crowd, you start going to the Sportmen to fit in better than at the Old’ Pink.

Turkey Scraps

Some mental leftovers being reheated from the week:

I had a grand time at a great concert last Sunday as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band ended their latest tour (not their last, settle down) at HSBC Arena. Despite the arena being curiously odd about how people were let in, (4 ticket takers for 18000 folks?) it was a great show. I was in the 200 level, about halfway up the arena, great site line and everything. Most of the arena was seriously into the show, but there were a few exceptions. I had to laugh a little as there were two guys who look like they were being punished. I’ve never been the king of overly-demonstrativeness at shows, but these guys sat, arms crossed for the whole show. I wasn’t sure if they were being punished or what. The “last show” hype did a number on the souvenir stands. I’ve never seen a concert clean things out before. Happily, the one thing I wanted is cheaper on the Live Nation site anyway.

Guessed wrong again as to where to spend a holiday. The one consistency in going from groom to ex groom is that you are still never right. I don’t hate this season. I just don’t approach it with much in the way of enthusiasm. Kids are older so it is easier to think of it as one day.  I think the Black Friday chowderheads are exactly that. I have forever put myself through unnecessary handwringing over what I can and can’t do for my kids and since resuming my bachelorhood struggle with my own placement. Their mom and I have brunched with them the past few years and that has evolved into a highlight for me. The rest has proven to be emotionally trying. I think the upshot is I think too much. When you’re in one place, you feel you should be in the other. When you’re in the other, you feel like you are in the way.

Nobody wants to take responsibility anymore. A financial institution holding a loan for me had a busted website. I won’t say who it was, citi (oops), and while having the nerve to celebrate “customer service week,” their website got hung up and took more money than they were entitled to take. This five second screw up took a week to complete and repair. They’ve made a believer out of me. No bailouts. I told the local folks that when this can’t be done right, they really shouldn’t be dipping into areas like Aflac’s.

Got criticized by a potential date for being involved with my kids, like there is no room for something or someone else. Apparently I am supposed to compartmentalize my time. We all should be catered to on that sort of level, but jeez, give things a chance to evolve. As this is the second time I’ve heard this, I think I’m holding a minority opinion, yet another one.

A weatherman mocked my use of the phrase “almost decent” on a facebook status. Seems kind of petty since he almost watchable (but not quite).

My culinarily gifted sister (psst, that is a career waiting, just saying) offered up a rockin turkey that I was all to happy to finish off with yesterday’s lunch. Only down side was nobody else was around to appreciate the groovy scents coming my microwave.

Nice footnote to the week, last night at dinner with my younger two, the restaurant radio actually played “Incident on 57th Street” and had the good sense to let it play right into “Rosalita” as God intended.

A beautiful thing, indeed.