Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band—Nashville, Tennessee—Sommet Center—Nov.18—LIVE!
Nashville, Tennessee, has always been a favorite destination for me. Whether I’m there slumming the honky tonks and Gruhn’s guitar shop on Broadway or visiting the world famous destinations where guys like Elvis and Johnny Cash made it happen on Music Row, it’s always exciting. This trip had me heading down courtesy of The Stone Pony’s own Kyle Brendle to check out another Jersey boy who just happened to be headlining the town—Bruce Springsteen who, along with the E Street Band, was just about finishing up their two year mega tour and was gearing up for a monster show at Nashville’s Sommet Center.
My take on Bruce (and many of you have heard this personally) is that while I don’t dislike the performer, I’m not crazy about some of the hometown fans. Let’s face it; a few are over the top. Now before I get lynched, it’s not everyone, but the minority sets the tone for the majority around here and for some reason that’s what gets noticed by guys like me and you all know what (and who) I’m talking about. We could spend days on that one but lets move on. The E Street Band was greeted with a whole different type of crowd in Tennessee. Yes, there were hopefuls in line from noon till the 8 p.m. show time for extra tickets, but the Nashville folks were southern reserved and full of good natured fun. And even with all the beer hawkers selling lots of suds, I didn’t see security drag one person out of the stadium.
The band kicked into the night with big blasts like “Wrecking ball,” “Seeds” and “Hungry Heart,” a tune that had Bruce crowd surfing like a 20-year-old before attacking “Thunder Road” and the iconic “Born To Run.” You know what’s up when Bruce steps up for that one. It’s a commanding presence and Bruce has a vast knowledge of imagery, using stadium lighting below and behind him, guitar held high in the air as it comes down and the band explodes. “Born To Run” was a show pinnacle to 14, 000 chanting souls at the Sommet.
My personal Springsteen preferences are “Nebraska,” “Tunnel Of Love,” and of course “Born To Run,” the latter because of the different vibe of the band, the timeline, as well as the fact that I love “Jungleland,” a song that I’ve always felt demonstrated the true essence of the man and the band. Listening to that tune always gives me chills with its complex style that segues through tempo, theme, feel and aural changes skewered with amazing instrumentation (Suki Lahav’s beautiful violin intro) and the deepest emotive vocals on earth. Hearing it live and watching Clemmons and Bittan recreate legendary parts brought me back to the feeling I had at my very first rock concert—complete awe. It was now that I understood just how huge this band’s contribution to rock and roll history really was.
I also liked the fact that a star this big still genuinely interacts with his fans. At one point while Springsteen was out on the center island he indulged in some banter with a 10-year-old girl whom he picked up and put onstage to sing a chorus of “Waitin’ On A Sunny Day.” As Bruce started to return to the main stage she tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to say hi to one of her friends, so he bent down and did, and before he could leave, it was friend number two, then she tapped him one more time for friend three as Bruce gave her a comedic eye roll, hands on his hips and a “you’re the boss” nod before dutifully bending back down to greet the last little kid. I’m from Jersey, I was looking for security to step in heavy handed to break it up, but nothing happened. It’s amazing as to the control this guy has over thousands.
“Darlington County” had Little Steven up to his usual hijinks as he sauntered stage left and pulled six pink cowboy-hat-wearing girls onstage for a romp around the main stage with Suzie Tyrell and Gary Talent reacting with genuine laughter. Even Bruce donned one of the pink Dolly Parton specials for a few verses before surrendering it back to its owner. Little Steven then led his crazy conga across the stage and back down to the floor as Bruce, laughing hysterically, turned to him and said “Hey Stevie, you can look but you better not touch!” and then jumping into the song of the same name, which was pretty god damned funny.
The Boss finished the “Born To Run” set off with “Lonesome Day,” “The Rising,” and a spot-on version of “Badlands” before coming to the front with the rest of the band to take a poignant and well-deserved bow to the crowd. That’s when he also thanked the departed Danny Federici, who was integral to “Born To Run.” The house just lit up with emotion. You could also sense that perhaps this might be the last hurrah for the E Streeters due to whatever ends bands, but then again, that’s what the Rolling Stones say every year and they’re always back on tour. Compared to the Stones, The E Street Band is just a bunch of kids so I don’t pay much thought to that.
They ended the night with a series of fan requested tunes including “Ring Of Fire,” “No Surrender,” “Bobby Jean,” “American Land,” “Dancing In The Dark,” “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),” and “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher” before leaving the stage. After 35 years these guys still tear the roof off. Vital and commanding, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band didn’t disappoint the fans..
I know I’ll be eating some crow after this but I don’t mind hearing a few, “See? I told ya so’s” from folks. I mean, hey, they’re right. After watching this legendary powerhouse on the big stage my attitude has been forever altered. Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band in Nashville, Tennessee, was a show I’ll not soon forget. And while you still wont catch me posting “set lists” or hanging around outside the Paramount waiting for a glimpse or to explain why I named my kids after Little Steven and Nils, you can bet I’ll be looking to upgrade my CD collection with some of the other fine work they’ve done in the past and hopefully well into the future.
“Off Season—Winter Words From The Jersey Shore”—Dec. 11—The Showroom
After a two year back and forth, poet Chris Rockwell and performer James Dalton are finally bringing collaboration to the stage in the form of “Off Season-Winter Words From The Jersey Shore.” The pair of shore natives became friends in the open mic circles of Monmouth County while James was taking time off the road to recover from a surgery on his vocal chords. Both were influenced by more unconventional prose and were boardwalk stalkers long before the revitalization began. On Dec. 11, they will hit the stage at the Show Room on Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park for two shows back to back, delivering a mix of poetry and storytelling with a little music thrown in. Find out more about Chris and James at myspace.com/jpatmusic and myspace.com/chrisrockwell.