Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Boss: Springsteen in Cincinnati

While the hot cross buns are rising...

Let's talk about Bruuuuuuuce...

Spent last night alone in the US Bank Arena with Bruce and the E-Street Band. I've never gone to a concert alone. Jon and I went out to dinner first, watched Xavier just about put away Purdue, and then listened to the rest of the game on the radio as he drove me downtown. Jon dropped me off, texted me the results of the game and went to a movie while I partied with the "born in the 1950's and 60's" crowd.

Of note: I showed up in Springsteen style—black top, jeans and boots. 7 in 20 women were wearing the identical look... and so was the Boss-man.

Next to me was a couple in their early 30's and they looked out of place. When I told the husband I saw Bruce for the first time in 1981, he calculated quickly and told me he was four years old "back then." Uh huh.

Two women in front of me were old friends. They now live in Boulder CO and Cincinnati. They had seen Bruce together in college and hadn't seen him again since. They'd planned this night together for months and were giddy when the lights went down, danced and sang to every song. Made me think of my college Srpingsteen friends... and miss them!

Bruce was great... he always is. His message could easily have stood in for the Democratic platform wherein he addressed blue collar workers (who used to race cars), immigrants who were beaten up (or worse killed) for building the railroads, cities and machines of America (Bruce's Irish jig version of U2's "The Hands that Built America"), and his announcement that the last eight years amount to "magic tricks" (title of his newest CD: "Magic"). He quipped, "I think someone's been riflin' through my passport..." Vintage Bruce.

He stunned me when he broke into "Candy's Room." Apparently it's been on the set list earlier in the tour, but I had never heard it live. What a great song. "Darkness on the Edge of Town" is still my favorite Springsteen album and he gave us three songs off of it.

Like a U2 concert, he has such an extensive back catalog that there will always be songs you wish he'd played and delightful surprises you never thought to guess he'd play. "Candy's Room" was the latter for me. Made the whole night.

Bruce stunned the crowd when he played "Lost in the Flood" off his very first album, "Greetings from Asbury Park." Not even sure how many people knew that song. The whole night was designed for long term fans and in that sense, it was well worth the trip.

Clearly his voice was tired and he drank gallons of water to keep things going. As a result, he was a lot less chatty than in previous concerts. Also, the band played many musical interludes (which were awesome - we are so lucky to see the E Street Band after 30 years of skill development) and Bruce shared singing honors with the audience or Steven Van Zandt.

The encore featured "Glory Days" which may be my least favorite Springsteen hit. It kills me that in other shows he played the "Jungleland/Thunder Road" combo as this is my favorite set that Springsteen does. Sigh. The encore seemed to end quickly and we were all done at 10:25. Lights came up, everyone packed their gear back into bags, all around me fans were saying, "That's it? Oh well. Bruce is getting old. Gotta give him a break." They began the long shuffling descent to the bottom....

When suddenly the band burst through the tunnel into the fluorescent lights and Bruce yelled on mike: "What time is it? I said, what time is it? Is it time to go home? Nooooooo. It's Boss time!" Lights kicked off (as fans tumbled down stairs - j/k) and suddenly the room was filled with music again while fans streamed back to their seats as best they could.

Startling! They played a long version of "Kitty's Back," got us singing along and THEN sent us home closer to 10:45. :) The three hour+ concert is a thing of the past, but just as well. For all the beer being drunk by middle-agers, I think it was time for everyone to go home, too.

Bruce Springsteen Encore

Set List:
March 22, 2008
Cincinnati, Ohio
U.S. Bank Arena

Darlington County
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Reason To Believe
Candy's Room
Prove It All Night
She's The One
Livin' In The Future
The Promised Land
Be True
Lost In The Flood Tour Premiere
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last To Die
Long Walk Home

Glory Days Tour Premiere
Born To Run
Dancing In The Dark
American Land

Kitty's Back


Chuck said...

Thanks for the onsite coverage, Julie. I've never been a huge Boss fan, but have appreciated many of his tunes over the years - especially the anthem-like nature of "Born To Run" and also the more synthesized "Tunnel of Love" album. I was at the library yesterday and picked up his newest CD, Magic (2 copies in the bin - go figure!). It hasn't done much for me so far - his voice sounded very raw in comparison to other stuff, and the tunes didn't grab me at first listen. I'll probably give it another shot. I do enjoy a few of his "heirs apparent" - The Arcade Fire (some great joint live videos on YouTube) and expecially Joseph Arthur.

julieunplugged said...

Chuck, I don't like "Magic" either. I think it's too much rehash musically. I can't listen to it. :)

I'm a fan of the old stuff mostly and probably won't go to another E Street Band concert. I loved the "Devils and Dust" tour - the bravest, most interesting and moving concert I've ever been too. If he does the one-man version of his music again, I'd see that.

Ampersand said...

Great concert review, I'm glad you enjoyed yourself.

Barbara - Layla said...

I am a HUGE fan. I will be seeing Bruce in two weeks for the 18th time. Saw the show you just saw (with a slightly different set list of course) on Oct. 30 in LA.

I love Magic - I agree it has a similar to sound but some of those songs stand uniquely on their own. My favorite era was pre-1985.

I am wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a Pink Cadillac on the front that says "My Love is Bigger Than a Honda". I always wear a Springsteen shirt to the shows, just wish the ones I still have from the Born in the USA tour still fit me !!!

julieunplugged said...

Barbara!!! Good for you. I'm glad you love Bruce. He's just such a rare talent with profound insight. Gotta love him. :) I bought a t-shirt at the HRCafe in Rome that has his guitar on it and it's one of my faves.

Rob said...

Great review, Julie! I cracked up -- yeah, "Glory Days" is one of my least fave Boss tunes too!

jrl said...

I was very entertained by your blog review of the Cincy Bruce show. Incidentally, I was the male portion of the "couple in their early 30's" that sat next to you at the show. I saw him a few days later in Columbus (great show, by the way, with "Rosalita," "Adam Raised a Cain," "Something in the Night, "Incident on 57th St," etc) and looked less out of place, as it had a few more youthful types from OSU. The Irish jig that Bruce played was actually not U2's "Hands that Build America" but a Springsteen song called "American Land" that can be found on the expanded Segger Sessions cd (yes, I am also a Bruce and U2 geek). Like yourself, I was also stoked to hear "Lost in the Flood," as well as "Be True," and was delighted by the politics that he injected. I hope that he goes on a "Vote for Change Tour Part II" but that's probably a pipe dream considering the unfortunate outcome of the last election. It was great to meet you at the show and I'm glad you had a good time. As you might have been able to tell, I am the Bruce Fanatic half of my marriage, but my wife very graciously indulges me (to an extent).