Chasing The Spirit In The Night: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Concert Review, Vancouver, BC, November 26, 2012
by Jason Motz
Courtesy of Vivoscene
The initiated need no reminder but for the rest of the people out there here it is: Bruce Springsteen is unlike any other performer/artist. His peers and his many imitators fall short of his charisma, arena showmanship and his touch-the-heart-of-every-member-of-the-audience impact. And he’s 63 years old. The performance in Vancouver on November 26, 2012 was pretty standard for him: 26 songs in just over three hours. No intermission. Exhausting? Try exhilarating.
The zeal and alacrity in Springsteen’s on-stage presence is mesmerizing. He is nothing short of a force spurred on by a breathlessly talented ensemble, the legendary E Street Band (the E now standing for “evolving”). This ensemble is more like a nation now that it stands 16 members strong.
Fusing the heart of rock and roll with country-ass boogie woogie, blood-of-the-lamb-gospel, greasy Detroit soul and Irish folk, the band is a marvel; changing moods and tempos on a dime and rarely resting (especially drummer Max Weinberg who sometimes has to wonder if he’s being punished by the Boss), the band grows stronger with each song. Name one other band that you can say that about. There is some funky magic on E Street. Notes are not simply played but exorcised with vigour; drum fills become pulpit proclamations, a five-piece horn section approximates Gabriel’s lone trumpet and the three-headed guitar dragon (Springsteen, Little Steven and Nils Lofgren, not a slouch in the bunch): well, nobody phones it in on E Street.
These musical Sherpas not only carry the musical weight for Springsteen but so much more: the weight of myriad dreams and hopes, the unflappable faith and devotion of their heraldic figurehead. And ghosts. So many ghosts. The music heard on E Street has not forgotten 9-11, Iraq/Afghanistan/Vietnam, Katrina, and was itself victimized by Sandy; this is the music sung for the fallen, the downtrodden, the broken-hearted, the restless, the young and the old.
And there is Phantom Dan. And the Big Man, too. All together they form a celestial collective, an eternal union that exists beyond the mortality of our earthly suits. The music, the music, the music! All that and still so much more!
On the latest album Springsteen sings, “We are alive….shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart.” And in performance this past week, he/they/we embodied those words. This was less a gig than it was a communal event, a celebration of the purest joy (albeit one with a hefty entrance fee), as all Springsteen gigs are. Whether you saw him in Vancouver this month, or last month in Boston, or Fresno, Sweden, or, later this year, in Mexico, it’s the same spirit in the night every night. The chemical reaction that ignites when Springsteen’s army hits the stage is an experience that best be on your bucket list. Like a hurricane of pure energy, the band is in full ascent from the moment Bruce counts the band in for the first number. Never dipping below 100%, the band’s performance is a revelation, each song out doing the last until you think you cannot physically take anymore….but of course it’s all you want now.
Of course, I could go into the minutiae of the set list. I could point out a few of the highest high points. Like the Santa Claus pulled on to the stage for a penultimate run through of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”….a Santa who danced like a midget from Spinal Tap and whose singing was so off-key, guitarists Little Steven and Lofgren pitched over their instruments in laughter…. Or the little girl who sang a chorus of “Waiting on a Sunny Day”, who wowed all with her stellar pipes and ease in the spotlight…. Like the 80-year-old woman who played Courtney Cox during “Dancing in the Dark”… The crowd-sung “Hungry Heart” which lead to a bout of crowd-surfing by Springsteen…Lofgren’s unhinged solo on “Because the Night”, complete with spasmodic spins and twirls through the air….the emergence of Jake Clemens, Big Man’s nephew, who has not only embraced his uncle’s uncomfortably large role on E Street, but has been quickly adopted by the audience for his own powerful and electric playing.
And sure, I could complain that there weren’t enough deep cuts for my liking, but of the 26 songs played, thirteen were ones I’d never experienced live before including two cuts from Greetings from Asbury Park, as well as personal favourites, “Red Headed Woman” and “Streets of Fire”. I could say this and so much more. But I won’t. Words just don’t cut it. Live clips and pictures? Not even close. Bootlegs? Hardly. You had to be there, in the seats, on the floor or in the stands, breathing the air around the stage, locking eyes with the various bodies on the stage, losing yourself with the crowd, to get it.
“Can you feel the spirit?” Springsteen implores. “Yeah, yeah” roars the crowd as the evening ends.
Watch: “Because The Night” live from Vancouver 2012 (wait for Nils’s crazy soloing)
Watch: “Shackled and Drawn” from Vancouver 2012
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Tags: 9-11, Because the Night, Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, E Street Band, Hungry Heart, Hurricane Katrina, Jake Clemons, Max Weinberg, Nils Lofgren, Rogers Arena, Spinal Tap, Spirit in the Night, Superstorm Sandy, Vancouver, Waiting on a Sunny Day, We Are All Canucks, Wrecking Ball
Up now at Vancouver Weekly, my take on the new dope by The Herbaliser. Short take: this right here is the good shit. As Bill Hicks would say, this is CIA stash stuff. Here’s the link. http://www.vancouverweekly.com/the-herbalisers-latest-stands-seven-strong/
- The Herbaliser + Belleruche @ The Forum (beatsandbobs.com)
- The Big Electron, A Bill Hicks & George Carlin Tribute Song by Melodysheep (laughingsquid.com)
Filed under: music, Vancouver Weekly | Leave a Comment
Tags: Bill Hicks, Electronica, Herbaliser, music of 2012, There Were Seven, Vancouver Weekly, West London
A brilliant performer and songwriter, he released two albums in the 1970s. And then, poof! He disappeared.
His journey from the fringes of obscurity is the focus of the recent documentary Searching for Sugar Man. You simply must see this film! And buy his records!! And read my article!!!
You can also read my previous Cap Courier entries by visiting here.
- “Searching for Sugar Man” a Rare & Meaningful Triumph (stlouis.cbslocal.com)
- Sixto Rodriguez’ “Cold Fact” album – better than you’ve heard it was (waronterrornews.typepad.com)
- Film: For Our Consideration: Googling Sugar Man: Is it possible to remain unknowable in the Internet age? (avclub.com)
Filed under: Capilano Courier, music, Pop culture | Leave a Comment
Tags: Cold Fact, Detroit, Sixto Diaz Rodriguez
You can read my preview for the new season of HGTVs hit realty-themed program URBAN SUBURBAN here. It was a gas to interview Sarah Daniels and her brother Phil DuMoulin. Class acts and cut ups, they made my job ridiculously easy.
This piece marks the first of what I hope will be many contributions to Vancouver Weekly. In the coming weeks I will be doing some show and CD reviews for VW. In the meantime, check this one out.
Filed under: Pop culture, Reality TV, Vancouver Weekly | Leave a Comment
Tags: Downton Abbey, Greater Vancouver, HGTV, Real estate, Sarah Daniels, Vancouver
Here’s a piece written about the great California album by American Music that I wrote for Vivoscene. I hope you will check this out and then hit the stores and torrent sites for more AMC.
As well, there is this piece: a rant about how the music today pales in comparison to most everything turning 40 this year. Don’t believe me? Read the piece and then have your say.
- E-Book announcement #1 (jwm33.wordpress.com)
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Tags: Adam Lambert, AMC, American Music Club, Big Star, Bruce Springsteen, California, David Bowie, Dubstep, Dusty Springfield, Folk music, Frank Zappa, Glam Rock, Jason Motz, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, Makes and Models, Marc Bolan, Mark Eitzel, Miles Davis, music, music of 1972, music of 2012, Nick Drake, Nicki Minaj, Paul Weller, Pop music, Recreation, Singer-songwriter, Skrillex, T Rex, Tenacious D, Twitter, United States, VIVOSCENE, Walking Dead, Wavy Gravy
I am proud to announce my involvement in an e-book venture with Vivoscene.com that will see a series of titles published….begining this fall! Official details are not ready for public consumption yet so consider this a cruel teaser.
The e-book will feature a large collection of writing that has previously appeared on the Vivoscene site, plus a dozen or so new, “commissioned” pieces. The scope of the book is huge but all the writers and editors are keen for the task. There are plans for future books as well. I’ve already spoken here of my plans to write a book based on a blog experiment of mine called 35in35. No idea when that will be prepped but early 2013 seems a safe bet.
Anyhow, when details begin to emerge I will drop them here. In the meantime check out what’s going on at the vivoscene.com site today and wet yer whistle.
Here’s the last piece I wrote fresh for the site: A review of the latest, but possibly not last, Neil Young recording of 2012. He’s on tour with Cray Horse now. Opening for the Horse? Los Lobos. I can’t make this shit up! This will be one of the gigs of 2012 so cash those pop bottles and get your tickets now. In the meantime, check out my thoughts on the latest Neiler. http://vivoscene.com/feature/neil-young-crazy-horse-americana-album-review/.
Usually I am a bit more active in the Vivoscene, er, scene, but lately I have been a bit busy with manuscripts and such to focus on newish material. Having said that, I’ve got a few things in the fire.
Lastly, remember to check out my music column for the Capilano Courier in the fall as well. I’ll post links here when that too is ready.
- Self Publishing: the Pitfalls and the Promise by Storm Constantine (ipmbblog.wordpress.com)
- Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Americana (guardian.co.uk)
Filed under: Capilano Courier, music, Pop culture, vivoscene | 1 Comment
Tags: Amazon Kindle, Americana, E-book, Los Lobos, Neil Young, Oh! Susanna, Vivoscene.com
On Monday July 2, Anderson Cooper, veteran CNN news anchor and host of an eponymously titled talk show, trended wildly on social media when he publicly declared he is gay. Despite some debate as to the news worthiness of Cooper’s announcement, the story gained traction and continues to draw buzz today.
What is most revealing about the whole story is the tide of open support Cooper is receiving. In the majority of cases, these people do not know Cooper personally. Some, such as CNN colleague Don Lemon, know Cooper professionally. But for the most part, the social media community is full of people who only know Cooper as a celebrity talking head.
Yet, thousands of people took to Twitter to join the chorus of hurrahs.
( Follow this link to CNN for details: http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/03/showbiz/celebrity-news-gossip/anderson-cooper-gay-overheard/)
Cooper’s announcement would have been unthinkable thirty years ago. Even twenty years ago, just before legislation of the Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tellpolicy, such a public statement would have been problematic. Rumors of sexuality were enough to kibosh careers. Even a vocal supporter of gay rights faced challenges: The cultural dialogue around sexuality was fairly mute. To openly support gay rights was to make ones self equally vulnerable.
Tides ebb and flow, so too does the cultural paradigm. While the blight of homophobia has not quite been sponged entirely from society, the acceptance of and the greater willingness to publicly support gay rights only spreads.
But Cooper, finely ensconced in the celebrity zeitgeist, likely knew that he was not to face any harsh rebukes for coming out; I imagine, however, that the warm and welcome reception his coming out received was still a pleasant ego boost.
From the response to Cooper’s announcement one can surmise the following: that the response of many is a positive public declaration of our societies increased willingness to declare our love, compassion, solidarity and love to people of diverse orientation and background. Especially to celebrity journalists we have never met.
- Kathy Griffin: Why I Never Outted My Pal Anderson Cooper – Us Magazine (usmagazine.com)
- Newsflash For The Blind And Deaf: Anderson Cooper Doesn’t Like P*ssy (gloganvlog.com)
- Anderson Cooper Tells Daily Beast ‘I’m gay’ (5newsonline.com)
Filed under: Celebrity news, Gay Rights, Media, Pop culture | Leave a Comment
Tags: Anderson Cooper, CNN, Coming out, Don Lemon, Gay, Twitter
Well well well…..it sure has been awhile. ‘So’, you might be asking, ‘have you been up to anything since January?’
Truth is I began to focus on one other blog (35in35) at the expense of this one. Now, with other plans on the works for 35in35, and that blog now on the blocks, I’ve returned my attentions here. This particular blog will be undergoing radical changes in the coming weeks. This is do to a website that is currently under construction. For this reason and others, I’ll be blogging again in no time. But for now, let me tie up some loose ends.
I have begun a new column for Vivoscene cleverly entitled Motz’ Notes. 2-4 brief album reviews in one bite-size column. Each column will be focused on some theme: indie eps and singles made up installment one, while retro-rockers Paul Weller and Guided By Voices made up the most recent. There’s another in the works. More to come. (Hint: Record Store Day will play a factor).
Look for a “reprint” of my Everly Brothers piece, which originally appeared on 35in35, in VIvoscene early next week. Joe Pernice fans take note, I’ve got him in my sights as well. That too will appear on Vivoscene.
One of the reasons the blog went dark the past few months was my internship with Western Living magazine. For three months I fact checked, art sourced, and researched bath tiles and tubs, canned beers, home decor outlets from Victoria to Saskatoon. It was a blast. I learned a ton, fouled up only three times, made some great contacts and a few friends. Met a couple of music geeks to boot. But that time is over, I am free again to the mercies of Vancouver’s horrific job market. Returning to the blog will help stave off insanity I hope.
Okay, I mentioned earlier Record store Day. If you read this before 9:00 AM Saturday morning, April 21st, make sure your plans for that day include a visit to your nearest or favourite indie record store. With so many exclusive goodies this year, there is no reason not to show these stores, the heart and soul of rock and roll, a little love. Or you can just hang out among the racks looking for old and rare LPS, singles, oddities and other stuff. Put some of your coinage into the local economy and help your musical brethren out.
Lastly, in the wake of Levon Helm‘s death, take some time today to remember The Man. The tragic story of the Band continues. But instead of being consumed by sorrow, rejoice in the legacy of music. Here he is with my favourite Springsteen cover, ‘Atlantic City’. Cheers, Levon.
- Levon Helm, RIP (caelumetterra.wordpress.com)
- The Three Definitive Songs of The Band (In Honor of Levon) (wncx.radio.com)
- Farewell Levon. Farewell. (postdenominational.org)
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Tags: Everly Brothers, Guided By Voices, Joe Pernice, Levon Helm, Paul Weller, Record Store Day, VIVOSCENE, Western living Magazine