Meet the New Boss
So last night Mrs. Bartender and I went to see Springsteen at Nissan Pavilion. First, a note about the venue. After a disastrous trip there two summers ago to see Sting and Annie Lennox on a Friday evening, I vowed never to see another show there again. The traffic to get there was horrendous, but even worse was the hour we sat in the parking lot after the show . But Springsteen trumped my dislike of the facility. Plus, going on a Sunday night meant the drive out would be easy (it was), and this time we ponied up for premier parking, which was perhaps the best $20 I ever spent as we were out of the lot within 30 seconds of turning my car on. So Nissan is off the barred list provided that I am not driving out during rush hour.
But to the show. Bruce was simply amazing. It was my 10th Springsteen concert but totally different from all the others (other than in the high energy level). For those not in the know, Bruce's new album is We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. No, Bruce is not covering Turn the Page, it is Pete Seeger. Strangely, none of the songs were written by Seeger, but he had played all of them. They can most simply be described as folk songs, not like Dylan pre-64, but a sort of fusion of gospel and jazz. And most of all the songs are lots of fun, and the band supporting Bruce, including a banjo and large horn section, was terrific. The amazing thing about these songs is even if you've never heard them before, they are so catchy (and, to be fair, repetitive) that it is simple to join in with Bruce. (I was amused by watching an entire audience singing along to a black spiritual, with the only non-white people that I saw there being members of the band.) He played virtually the entirety of the new album, although ironically enough did not play Shenandoah (only 40 miles from where the concert was taking place). He also played a few of his own tunes (Johnny 99, If I Should Fall Behind, Cadillac Ranch, and Ramrod), but they were completely rearranged, and I preferred the songs from the new album. I have to say that was a first at a concert, preferring the new stuff to the classics! There was a lot of Katrina talk (he opened this tour at Jazz Fest and one of the highlight was a moving version of When the Saints Come Marching In), and some antiwar moments. Just a great show.
One side night. Mrs. Bartender had no idea what to expect. I had used the word acoustic to describe the concert, so she was expecting a Nebraska-esque night. (If you don't get the reference, you shouldn't be reading this post.) While she thought the music was great and normally would be attempting to pull a Courtney Cox and begging the Boss to pull her up on stage, she still is not physically able to enjoy the rollicking show as much as she would have preferred. The only damper on a great, great show. While I can't wait to see Bruce again with the E Street band, his willingness to tour America's musical routes is a valuable service to all music fans.