Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bruce. The River. Morons.

I saw Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band perform "The River" in its entirety and more last night at Madison Square Garden. A rocking good time was had by all...for most of it.  Just as debate over the merits of "Man's Job" continues, so does the attendance of odious morons at concerts, who somehow think it is acceptable to whip out toy chest sized tablets and scroll through pictures of their Acapulco vacation during the songs they don't like, or discuss "Eddie's sister," who is apparently a "real, fucking bitch" during "Stolen Car."

For the record, as much as I love "The River," I don't particularly care for "Ramrod," "I'm A Rocker," and "Cadillac Ranch." I do happen to love "Stolen Car," Point Blank," "The River" and especially "Drive All Night," all of which saw thousands of people sit down, check their e-mail, take selfies and just talk over the band and performance. Again, why show up?

And here now, because I think everyone loves a list and because my ears are still ringing and my head is still pounding from Nils Lofgren's Yngwie Malmsteen-inspired solo in "Because The Night, are my ten favorite Bruce Springsteen tunes, in ascending order.

Interesting note about these ten tunes:

I made this list a few nights ago, and in the same notebook found a Bruce Top Ten that I had created in April of 2015.  Both lists are identical, though the order has changed slightly. So, I must really love these ten.

10. Valentine's Day
 9.  Brilliant Disguise
 8.  Girls In Their Summer Clothes
 7.  Candy's Room
 6.  Badlands
 5.  Drive All Night
 4.  Sherry Darling
 3.  Atlantic City
 2.  Born To Run
 1.  Thunder Road


kevin m said...

Sal -very valid point about the audience at shows these days. We were sitting in Section 209 last night and the pair cost me over $350 at face value. Yet everyone around was yapping away, checking their text messages or sending text messages or doing anything but listening and watching the show. Why even bother paying that much if you're not going to at least pretend to enjoy the show?

One of my wife's favorite songs by Bruce is "Point Blank". She was so happy when he started playing it last night. But my mid-song she was so frustrated because all she heard were the several dozen conversations around us.

That being said, there were several patches during The River's performance that probably got lost in the stratosphere of Section 209.

But overall, it was a great show and the band does sound excellent. I will try again for the Brooklyn shows.

Anonymous said...

Hello, please remain seated,

Concert morons can definitely dampen the vibe. I remember some years back Mrs. RichD threw her program at the head of an annoying audience member at a John Leguizamo show on Broadway. Man, we still laugh about that. But I'm off have audience distraction during Stolen Car is beyond the pale. That song is one of my all-time favorite deep cuts from Springsteen.

Your top 10 list reminds me...I never really got the charm of the song Girls In Their Summer Clothes from the Magic album. The murky and mumble-y production left me...meh. I'm pretty sure you once posted a video of Springsteen doing the song solo acoustic. To my tastes, a much much superior way to perform the song. I got it.



FurryBootsCityBoy said...

A few years back, I was with some friends to see Emmylou Harris. Almost as soon as Emmylou began singing, two women sitting in the row behind began singing along. Between songs, my pal's wife turned to them and said: "I paid to hear Emmylou Harris sing - NOT either of you." The women didn't return to their seats at the interval. I once used stronger language on a bunch of young men who kept showing me their "selfies" at a Neil Young gig. Despite being an old fart, they took the hint and moved somewhere else. Sometimes it pays to speak out. But I know these morons can be a real hassle if there's a big crowd of them.

William Repsher said...

When I saw Springsteen late 90s, cellphones weren't yet in their ascendancy. So every time a ballad rolled around, there would be massive lines of heavy-set middle-aged dudes in their concert shirts clogging the aisles to either get more beer or take a piss break. EVERY ballad ... but particularly during his Woody Guthrie stylings, Youngstown in particular. It got to be comical after awhile, like a cattle call.

Here's my Top 10. Most focus on that period around Nebraska and the formative sessions of Born in the USA, which would have been his best album by a mile if he had stuck to his guns instead of opting to play the superstar card. For the record, I think "Sherry Darling" might be his worst song!

10.Loose Ends
9. Sugarland (demo)
8. 4th of July Asbury Park
7. Bye Bye Johnny (prefer the demo versions to final b side release)
6. Valentine's Day
5. Wreck on the Highway
4. Open All Night
3. Vietnam (acoustic demo, elements of which grew into Shut Out the Lights and Born in the USA ... I wish he had used this instead, almost as-is)
2. New York City Serenade
1. Racing in the Street

Chris Collins said...

I had three guys in front of me who shouted over the entire 2nd half of "The River". Shouted. They would have been loud if they were in a bar. Shouting over "Stolen Car", at Madison Square Garden, while surrounded by people who payed good money to hear this song performed live, is incredibly rude.

Of course the guys high fives and pointed at the stage during the up-tempo songs who are more to their liking.

Sal Nunziato said...

"For the record, I think "Sherry Darling" might be his worst song!"

This is obviously clickbait.

Tumbingdice70 said...

Sal, I believe that this generation of concert fans can't even handle a 32 song setlist; they just don't have the attention span. Here we have a 66 year old man bringing nonstop energy for over 3 hours, and fans can barely handle standing up for 4 songs in a row and actually paying attention, and certainly not on the quieter songs that demand focus. Of course, for the true fans, those are the ones we're most focused on. It's a reflection of society more than anything. Back in the day, people would have been too stoned to operate a smartphone! I'm still looking forward to seeing the show in Atlanta and St. Louis.

Your top 10 list hit home with me. A decade ago, having two songs off Tunnel of Love would have been unimaginable. After going through a divorce, that album was a life preserver for me, it kept me afloat through some rough waters.
I agree, Girls In Their Summer Clothes is a good pop song, the over production still keeps it out of my favorites.

My top 10:

10. Point Blank
9. My City of Ruins (9/11 telethon or duet with Sam Moore at Christmas show)
8. State Trooper
7. Prove It All Night ('78 live version of course)
6. Streets of Fire
5. Backstreets ('78 live version)
4. The River
3. It's Hard to be a Saint in the City (live '75-'85 version)
2. Racing in the Street
1. Thunder Road (live '75-'85 version)

Let it rock!

Chris Collins said...

This will change 100 times, but...

10. Brilliant Disguise
9. Take 'Em As They Come
8. This Hard Land
7. Racing In The Streets
6. Long Walk Home
5. New York City Serenade
4. Kitty's Back
3. Land of Hope and Dreams
2. Badlands
1. Thunder Road (live 75-85 version)

M_Sharp said...

I could never understand why people pay to see a band then talk through the show.

Some friends went to a Temptations show last year, and a guy behind them was singing along with one of the songs... but he was singing a different song!

I don't go to the arena shows, so I don't see too much of the phone crap. I've gotten to the point where I ask the bartender or waitress to get someone to shut up the talkers, it works very well. I had to do it at a Steve Earle show last year, two bozos in front of us at the bar talked through the first four songs as if there was no band on stage. I wish I heard what the bouncer said to them, it looked like he was ripping them a new one. Then they tried to apologize (in the middle of a quiet song, of course) and at that point we were almost screaming at them to shut up or go to the lobby and talk. They were with a group of about eight people who were all in their 40's and '50s, so you'd think they'd be more polite.

buzzbabyjesus said...

The last big show I went to was REM at MSG for their "Green" Tour. 1989? I was annoyed by all the "frat" dudes singing along with the wordless background vocals so many songs featured.
It was beyond lame.
I prefer being too stoned to operate a smart phone in these situations.

soundsource said...

Sherry Darling and Ties That Bind. Oh that's my list. And as to Man's Job not only do I love the song I will go on record as saying that I like those two albums very much and I saw that band live at least three times and those shows rocked. As for Eddie's sister well she is a bitch and that's why I don't usually (make that never) go to arena shows cause I don't want to bump into her. Not to mention you can never hear the fucking bass. But I am jealous that you went last night (ok somewhat hypocritical)

soundsource said...

ps I hadn't read your Sherry Darling comment when I made my mine but I still stand by my selection.

Ken D said...

I think my favorite venue now is City Winery partly because they usually make a "respect the artists and your neighbors" announcement before the show starts. And there's something on the tables to same effect.
Unfortunately it didn't stop the couple at the table to my left who talked nonstop through the entire Bottle Rockets/Marshall Crenshaw show last Monday. Must have been a first date. Luckily it wasn't sold out and we were able to move a few tables away.

I heard about a band—I think it might be The Savages—that has a "no phones" policy at their shows. No taking pictures, no recording, no checking Facebook. Put the damn things away and listen and dance and enjoy the music or we stop the show. I love that.

And as far as loudly singing along: unless you're at an outdoor festival, and the lead singer shouts "OK now EVERYBODY!" and points his mic at the crowd... SHUT UP!

Sal Nunziato said...

If you've been to a enough BS & The ESB shows, you know you will be singing a few songs. He encourages it and quite frankly, you just can't help it. It's part of it. But I don't ever recall, in the 30-40 times I've seen him, people not paying attention. Even before cell phones, people sat and were in a zone during "Point Blank" or "Meeting Across The River." There were two assholes in front of us dancing to "The River." What fun?!!

Bombshelter Slim said...

"Jungleland" still kills me, but good choices by all. A year ago we had the pleasure of sitting behind 3 "music fans" who talked, drank and joked all through a set by Iris Dement, couldn't figure out why they were there... to be fair, a friend and I once got vehemently shushed at a Ry Cooder/David Lindley show...

Troy said...

Great topic today. Certainly touches a nerve with a lot of us. I, too, hate the morons who talk over a masterpiece like Drive All Night and found some of that at the Chicago show last week. But overall the crowd was pretty into the show. (By the way, the current version of Drive All Night is as good as I've ever heard. I cannot stop listening to it from the Chicago show.)

Ken D mentioned City Winery. While I like the (relative) silence at a place like that, sometimes it kills the spirit and spontaneity of the moment. Some artists are just not a good fit with that environment. We saw Marcia Ball at CW last fall, and somehow sitting there quietly, sipping a glass of pinot noir seemed wrong. We should have been drinking beer (in bottles) and singing and dancing. But that would have upset some of those around us so we didn't. So while the performance was fine, it was probably my least favorite Marcia Ball show. I guess you need the right artist at the right venue and with a crowd that is fully engaged (loud during the loud songs, quiet during the quiet songs). Getting that mix just right is probably akin to winning the lottery.

Anyway, here is my Top Ten Bruce list. This changes all the time, so this is simply how I feel today (although 1-3 are pretty much consistently at or near the top of the list).

10. Jungleland
9. Back in Your Arms (Blood Brothers documentary version)
8. Real World (Christic Nights version)
7. Open All Night
6. Two Hearts
5. Brilliant Disguise
4. Long Walk Home
3. Backstreets ('78 Winterland version w/ Drive All Night)
2. Land of Hope and Dreams
1. Prove It All Night (w/ '78 Intro)

When you wrote about Man's Job the other day, I almost replied with my preference of Real World and the general consensus in the Bruce community that Bruce released the wrong version of that song on Human Touch. The version he performed at the Christic benefit shows was far superior. To this day, it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It's that good.

Bob Busby said...

I'm surprised about the reaction to The River usually a big sing-along with number.

Sal Nunziato said...

Troy, I am with you regarding CW. A fave place, but it really needs to alter the setting to fit the band. Saw The Blasters there a few years ago, cramped at a table covered with cheese and olives. Did not work.

Bob Busby, I can't tell if you're being serious.


Great post Sal.

Three thoughts:

1 -- The FaceBook connected / selfie driven / Twittisphered 21st century concert experience just makes me shake my head (and scream "Get off my lawn!")

2 -- I like your list of ten. Not instead but as well ... there are a number of Springsteen songs that are important to me even if they aren't the most important if you get my drift. They make me laugh / make me cry / give me a boner / make me drive too fast / make me stop in my tracks / make me feel old / make me feel young / make me glad to be alive! In alpha order (and subject to edit as soon as I post this) here are ten songs important to me:

Blinded By The Light
Drive All Night
Independence Day
Let's Be Friends (Skin to Skin)
Murder Incorporated
Open All Night
Tenth Avenue Freeze Out
The Wish

3 -- On the strength of these recent posts I'm going to listen to all my Springsteen albums -- one a day. So with Greeting from Asbury Park pumping out of the speakers ...

Jonathan F. King said...

I like "Rosalita." That's it.

Robin said...

These are the songs that most resonate with me, not necessarily what I think are best, and it's off the top of my head with number one being absolutely number one and its position never, ever wavering.

1. Racing in the Street
2. For You/Growin' Up (tie)
3. Tougher than the Rest
4. Backstreets
5. Atlantic City
6. Nebraska
7. Mansion on the Hill
8. Point Blank
9. 4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy)
10. Girls in their Summer Clothes

Michael Giltz said...

Despite Eddie'e girl and the yahoos, still wish I'd been there, though yahoos are annoying and can spoil a show very quickly

But can anyone give me a new take on "Hungry Heart?" It's always struck a discordant note for me. How ironic that Springsteen first hit the Top 10 with a tune that sounds like a jaunty defense of a guy who abandoned his wife and kids. I know; it's not. I know -- in the context of his career, Springsteen has shown a deep regard for shattered love, families and communities. Lyrically, he has never taken such things lightly. This is not a guy who celebrates sloughing off responsibility or looking out for yourself at the expense of others. Quite the opposite.

Which is why "Hungry Heart" seems odd, just a little. I guess there's the tension between ditching your wife and kids while admitting no one wants to be alone, even if they think they do. But the music doesn't seem to underline or contrast or somehow play off the lyrics; they seem of a piece. I'm reading too much into it, but it's always pulled me up a little short when a female friend dismissed Springsteen because the first song she heard by him was a seemingly happy tune about a guy who'd taken off and so what, he had a hungry heart!

I am aware that's not the intent of the song itself and certainly not in the context of the album. But wondered if others could shed some different light on the tune for me.

Anonymous said...

I just don't have the energy to compile top ten list anymore but I will ask does anyone else love Cherokee Queen as much as I do? It would be in my top ten.

I agree with the thought that the type of act (and songs) should set the tone of a concert. Singing along to most Bruce songs is a no brainer but any moron dancing to The River should be pelted with anything available to throw at them.

I feel the quality of audiences' attentiveness went downhill since the early 70's when (sorry to say but I feel this is true) the unwashed boobs started going to concerts in larger & larger amounts. It's a party to them not a religious experience. Ok, maybe I take my rock & roll a little to seriously sometimes. Any remember you can go hog wild crazy at a religious ceremony, but with the vibe not against it.

Sal you can really get us going sometimes, great job!

Capt. Al (not a robot but a captain)

buzzbabyjesus said...

What is wrong with "Rosalita"?

Noam Sane said...

The last Dire Straits tour, 1992 - amazing show. Lots of quiet stuff. All around me, people are yapping, ignoring. Until "Money For Nothing" of course. Fist in the air, woohoo! Then, "Brothers in Arms" starts - yap yap yap. I wanted to take a hostage.

I gave up on NRBQ shows after a particularly fratboy-infested travesty at some hellhole out on the Avenues in San Francisco around 1999. It was a happening, apparently, and it freaked me out. I had never encountered an unpleasant crowd at a 'Q show until that time. I do know that, on that 'tour,' they were under new mismanagement.

That city was infested with those types. I'll never forget a Mermen show at a joint on Haight St. that was filled with drunk backward-baseball-cap types. In between songs, the guitarist is tuning up, and a staggering-drunk Bro yells at him, "share your soul, man!"

Springsteen, I got nothin'. Glad you enjoyed, somewhat.

Bill Roberts said...

I hate live shows. After 40 years of attending them in small clubs, theaters and stadiums, I'm now the angry old man who wants to kill someone ("hey, 'whoo!'" man - you're doomed), every single time. I even retroactively hate listening to live LPs after 1975.

As an aside, I also hate watching my teams play in critical games in a public space.

I guess I just hate people.

Ken D said...

Troy, Sal— can't disagree with either of you about City Winery. Some acts aren't going to work there. Or at least they won't be able to give their A+ show. Still, when I want to really listen, it's the place. (Wish they had beer pints on tap, though...)

mauijim said...

I too ran into this modern phenomenon a couple of years ago at Neil/Crazy Horse show."Why are you here if all you are going to do is talk thru the show"? And Neil/Crazy Horse still couldn't make more noise than her.
My top 2 Bruce songs have not changed in 40 years, the rest are in order as they were released
The Fever
Adam raised a Cain
Point Blank Winterland 78
The Preacher's Daughter
The Big Payback
Pink Cadillac
Murder Inc

i like drama

Chris Collins said...

Troy, "Real World" from the Christic Benefit is one of the best things I've ever heard Bruce do. I sort of can't believe I left that off. I remember hearing that via bootleg a few weeks after the show and it utterly floored me. Still does.

dogbreath said...

It's dealing up with other people's inconsiderate behaviour that's putting me off going anywhere nowadays, be it a restaurant, the cinema, theatre or to a concert. I think I'll end up a Howard Hughes-type recluse. Having said all that and name-checking Mr Hughes, 10cc or what's left of the original band (2.5cc? - Ed) are touring my way in April so I'll gird my loins, put on a brave face & go see 'em. As for Springsteen, "Born to Run" & "Thunder Road" still do it for me with "Long Walk Home" & "Land of Hope and Dreams" in the mix too.

A walk in the woods said...

This is a great thread. It required so much thought on my part, regarding my favorite Bruce songs, I had to lay back and think a bit - now I got it. For today.

What's fun is that not one of my Top 10's overlaps with Sal's list, or with many of the other lists posted here. To me, that's a great thing - it means this cat must have a very long list of very good songs to inspire so many different Top 10's.

My Top 10 Bruce songs:

1. Rosalita (actually it's my favorite song, overall, by anybody - other than "I Saw The Light" by Todd Rundgren)
2. No Surrender
3. The Rising
4. Backstreets
5. Kitty's Back
6. Radio Nowhere
7. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
8. Working On A Dream
9. My City's In Ruins
10. Atlantic City

Very Honorable Mentions:

Prove It All Night
Streets Of Fire
Incident On 57th Street
Meet Me At Mary's Place
Thunder Road
Lion's Den
Girls In Their Summer Clothes
For You
The Ties That Bind
The Ghost Of Tom Joad (live version with Tom Morello)
Growin' Up
Bobby Jean
I'm A Rocker
Blinded By The Light
The Promised Land
New York City Serenade
I'm Goin' Down
I Wanna Be With You