Tuesday, April 09, 2013


I love music, all the time, but the absolute best thing is getting right into the middle of a good  obsession - when some new (or old) album doesn't emerge from the CD player for weeks, maybe  inspiring a good rummage through the artist's back catalogue and even the broader scene they came out of. I can't really choose to make it happen but I've triggered it by going to festivals (most especially the first time at Womad) going to gigs, talking about and listening to music with knowledgeable friends, and at least once by impulsively picking up a fascinating book on a trip.

I never really notice when the ride starts to slow down, but later at just at some point I find myself thinking, I wonder when (and what) the next ride will be? Sometimes it's a bit of a wait.

During Bruce Springsteen's recent Australian tour with the magnificent E Street Band, we planned far in advance to go to two different shows, one in Sydney and one at Hanging Rock. At first I thought this was excessive, but I'm glad I came around to the idea of two shows. I had quite different (both good!) experiences at each show, over a week apart, and the set list was varied a fair bit between all of the 3-hour-plus shows on the tour. There are always quite a few requests - there seems to be an established thing with fans bringing handmade cardboard signs and Bruce selecting some of these to play. Many of the signs are really clever and funny, and not limited to song requests. Not a few were pleas from many ladies (and some men) hoping for their chance to dance on stage during 'Dancing in the Dark'. I quite liked 'Please dance with me, my other boss just fired me.' One he picked was 'Young and slender I may not be, but please dance with me.' You'd think this would be a cheesy element,  likewise the set piece of inviting a child to come up and sing 'Waiting on a sunny day', but my inner cynic was pretty much banished, as the Boss seems to have a gift for connecting with a most parts of large audience in a really genuine way.

I tend to think, if I'm going to go to a massive stadium show (which I almost never do), I want to be RIGHT there, with the keen people, right at the front. And we did that in Sydney, we lined up and got in with the first 200 people to be right near the stage. During the waiting time we met some pretty hard core fans. I have to assure you that going to 2 out of 10 Australian shows does not make you a groupie. I'll let you make up your own mind about the guy who always needs to stand in a particular spot in the mosh pit, because he knows that Bruce will see him because he knows to look for him there...?

So yeah, at the moment I'm a bit obsessed with the Boss. No, not in that way - I actually chose not to put my hand up as he crowd surfed within reach and the crowd surged in (some of them conveniently using the moment to get closer to the front).  I just thought... no. I don't actually need to grasp for momentary physical contact with this rock idol, like he has magical powers or something. That's not how I get what I'm here for.

My obsession is not a big deal, just listening to all the CDs we have in the house (which is quite a few - my ipod was sadly lacking but I've fixed that now) and a bit of falling down the Youtube rabbit hole. And, since I'd been thinking about doing some duets follow-up posts to my duets list anyway, here it is, the Bruce edition. Not very balanced, but it's where my head is at right now. You don't have to go there with me if you don't want to.

First up: 'The River' with Sting. It is hard to imagine just how they could look more mismatched - check out Sting's long hair and gorgeous - but surely hot on stage - fleur de lis jumper. And a scarf, just in case that high neck was not enough (maybe it was itchy wool?). Yet they sound so very pretty together.

And if you like that - here is a longer video which includes them doing 'Every breath you take' (yes, the creepy stalker song) as well. One of the commenters summed it up perfectly: "That'll do 1980's. That'll do." Ha.

'Thunder Road' with Melissa Etheridge. She's right - it always does sound like the crowd is booing when they chant "Bruuuuuce. Bruuuuuce" Love how you can tell just how nervous and excited she is.

Here's 'Brilliant disguise' with his wife Patti Scialfa.

And finally, a song from the Hanging Rock show we were at, 'Tougher than the rest' with Jimmy Barnes. Of course it's not a great recording, but interestingly, you can hear a bit more of Jimmy than we could at the time, sitting a bit further back. They had him turned down too low.

A massive highlight of both the shows we saw was 'The Ghost of Tom Joad' which Bruce sang as a duet with Tom Morello, who filling in on the Australian leg for guitarist Steve Van Zandt. I really hope they put that on a live CD or DVD.


Rhonda said...

I saw Bruce in 1984 and it was the most generous concert I had ever been to.
You should send this piece into the paper and write a music column. Very well written and from the heart. Great!

bells said...

i have every intention of watching all of these clips when I get home today. :-)

David said...

I'll also be watching these when I get home from work.

I NEVER queried my determination to go to as many Sydney shows as I could, and in the end, I saw all three. Bringing my Bruce show tally to 11. He just keeps getting better, really.

His shows ARE generous. They don't let up, and you never feel short-changed.

I am currently reading "Bruce" by Peter Ames Carlin. It contains lotsa detail, including a fair bit of train-spotting type stories for hard core fans - the encounters with Janis Joplin, and Patti Scialfa's first rehearsal both stick out. The writing is plodding, but I am sticking it out. You may find the book of interest.