Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Because the Night Belongs to Us: On Seeing Springsteen a Second Time

Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City

 So, the concert certainly exceeded my expectations. It was three hours of pure awesome. The only thing Peyton said he would change is that he really wanted to hear "We Are Alive". The only thing I'd change is my response upon finding out about it...obviously.

The concert was definitely different from JazzFest. They were both really neat in unique ways. Peyton and I both agreed that we enjoyed the laid back festival style more than the arena setting of KFC Yum! (the name of the building  The obvious, not able to overstate, advantage, was the length of the concert. JazzFest was about an hour...this concert was, like I said, about three.

The songs were great. He started off the concert with "Shackled and Drawn", pantomiming being in literal shackles. He ended with a truly amazing performance of "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out", which contained a beautiful tribute to his late band mate, "The Big Man", Clarence Clemons.

In between, he played some of his newest stuff that Peyton and I both love ("Wrecking Ball", "We Take Care of Our Own", and "Land of Hope and Dreams"). He played some old favorites ( "The E Street Shuffle", "Atlantic City"). He played some amazing classics ("Darlington County", "Born to Run", "Dancing in the Dark"). He played loud, jivey tunes ("Growin' Up") and serious, somber ones ("The River"). He played songs he usually doesn't play in concert ("Streets of Philadelphia). He played more than I expected off my favorite album, The Rising ("Lonesome Day", "The Rising", "My City of Ruins", "Waiting on a Sunny Day"). It was an excellent mix.

He danced around on stage with the same energy he had in videos I watch of him from thirty years ago. He swung his guitar until I nearly got dizzy, crowd surfed, and did his unique Springsteen steps he's famous for. It's just so much fun to watch. I don't think anyone could argue that he's much more than just a singer, he's a performer. Peyton remarked that it's almost as if he's an actor. I just don't know anyone else who writes beautiful lyrics that tell poignant stories, sings them with such a gut bursting passion, and then dances and cavorts with such intensity.

I guess from seeing videos and from having seen him live previously, most of that was expected. There were a couple of things I didn't anticipate as much. One was the way he talks to the audience. It's so...intimate. He told us about "ghosts" in his life before he sang "My City of Ruins". He spent time telling us about Asbury Park and his heartbreak over the recent hit by Hurricane Sandy after seeing it powerfully revived [he also changed some lyrics in "Wrecking Ball" to encompass his feelings on the hurricane] and then went on to make vague allusions to the "ghosts" we all have. He talked about missing people and then there was a time of silence for those we miss so desperately who aren't here with us anymore. It was clear he was missing Clarence in a mighty way. Clarence's nephew, Jake, was playing the sax and Bruce took special care to make him a big star of the concert. He asked us several times throughout the concert if we "felt the spirit". A lady that we visited with on Peyton's left told him at the end of the concert that she felt like she had been to church. It's just all really powerful, when a musician lets you in like that.

The second thing I wasn't expecting was just how much audience participation one of his concerts includes. There were lots of people in "the pit" right near the stage and pretty much the second half of the concert consisted of an awesome system of taking requests. People in the pit would hold signs or wear shirts displaying the songs they'd like to hear. The first might have been the best- a guy was holding a sign that said "Growing Up with History...20th birthday". Bruce sang and brought him on stage. He could not get a hold of himself. He kept pointing, doing the "fan bow" where you basically act like you're bowing and trying to simultaneously put out a fire, and then nearly shook Bruce's hand off. Finally, Bruce said "It's goin' to be okay. We're gonna just sing this together", like he was talking to a little boy in his Jersey accent. There was a group of girls in pink cowboy hats, one pretty young with a sign that said "Darlington Daughter"...they got to come on stage and dance when he sang "Darlington County".We saw a group of little boys wearing shirts that said "Sunny Day Please"...of course he played "Waitin' on Sunny Day" and brought the kiddos on stage to sing (they were the best of the night as far as actual singing). It was just so interactive and I loved that.

I told Peyton I could not think of a trip more fun than going to see Bruce. The icing on the cake is that I think, like last time, we nailed the perfect trip. We got to have a fun family trip and enjoy the kiddos (and have helpers in the form of grandparents and an aunt, no less!) and then we got to spend a good chunk of time doing something special for us. I know they'll come a time (actually not that long away) when we leave them and go on a whole trip just the two of us. But I think, after this and New Orleans, I've stumbled upon my absolute ideal vacation: time with the kids in a neat city with a different culture, during which time there will be a definite lack of a formal agenda + time in which we leave the kids with our most trusted babysitters and see our most favorite singer.

Because the night belongs to lovers  
Because the night belongs to us  
Because the night belongs to lovers  
Because the night belongs to us

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