Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band closed out the first leg of their U.S. tour last Sunday in Newark. It was an epic show, even by ESB standards. Two moments specifically have been hot topics this week- a performance of "The Weight" for the late Levon Helm and a performance of "Bishop Danced," a song never performed after 1973. Let's talk about the latter.
Friends have been Facebooking and texting about "Bishop Danced" since the second the first chord was struck this past Sunday evening. Plenty of "OMGS" and "I don't believe its!" But are these expressions of joy or confusion?
I was surrounded by hundreds of excited (?) people in 2003, and none of them knew just why they were screaming at Giants Stadium.
"It's Cynthia." "What is this?" "Cynthia!" "OMG!" "What is this?"
Bruce had been opening with different, deeper tracks during this run of shows, and this particular night, it was "Cynthia," found on the "Tracks" boxed set. I get it. "SURPRISE!" But "Cynthia" just ain't good. Most of the people in my section weren't quite sure why they were happy. It was a fleeting thrill, one that may have been sustained if the opener had been "Night" or "The Ties That Bind," or even a familiar cover.
At the show I attended on April 6th, the band dusted off "Lion's Den," another so-so song from the "Tracks" boxed set. As soon as it registered I thought, "It'll be over in 5 minutes." And if I was in Newark, I would have felt the same about "Bishop Danced." We're talking 5-10 minutes a night, so really, why complain? But I can't help feeling a killer "Drive All Night" or "Kitty's Back," or (insert here) would have trumped the 8 second "never did this before" thrill.
One Facebook acquaintaince looks at this way:
"With every one of these rarities there is at least one true-blue fan in that crowd whose all-time favorite song is "Bishop Danced" (or another rarity) and the gift of hearing it live is monumental. And I love that Bruce and the band will throw us fans that."
She makes a good point. And really, who am I to assume that 25,000 people would rather hear "Drive All Night" than ""Bishop Danced?" I know I'd rather hear "Bishop Danced" than "Bobby Jean."
I've always been fascinated by artists and their set list choices. Why do something one night and not the other? Or worse, why keep playing "Waiting On A Sunny Day?" Why? WHY?! (oops...sorry.)
Here is my dream set list for Bruce & The ESB:
Code Of Silence
Girls In Their Summer Clothes
Racing In The Street
Because The Night
Tougher Than The Rest
Rag Mama Rag
The E Street Shuffle
Raise Your Hand
Drive All Night
Born To Run
Bruce...if you're reading...