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.

Yeah, yeah!

Watch: “Because The Night” live from Vancouver 2012 (wait for Nils’s crazy soloing)

Watch: “Shackled and Drawn” from Vancouver 2012


the herbaliser live @ babylon

the herbaliser live @ babylon (Photo credit: jacob earl)


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.



Rodriguez signing autographs after a show: Apr...

Rodriguez signing autographs after a show: April 8, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…has been running for the past month in the Capilano Courier. My latest piece is about Sixto Rodriguez, one of the most compelling voices and figures you could ever imagine.

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.




Hey all!

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.



California (American Music Club album)

California (American Music Club album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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.




English: Neil Young in concert in Oslo, Norway...

English: Neil Young in concert in Oslo, Norway in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I am proud to announce my involvement in an e-book venture with 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 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.




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.






English: Journalist, author and television per...

English: Journalist, author and television personality Anderson Cooper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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:

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.

Well well well… 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.

Things have been a little quiet on the blog front so far in 2012. Well, that’s not entirely true. Work on 35in35 has begun in earnest and that has been where my blog attention has been primarily focused. See links below to catch up on what’s been going down. I have other blog projects in development but until 35in35 wraps up they will remain in gestation. The latest 35in35 post can be read here: . 

The Year of this Crazy Beast!

The plan is to up the number of posts from once a week to every day starting February 1st. It’ll be a slog but it’s the only way  I can get it done by March 3rd. After that I’ll be 36, and then what’ll be the point? Look for posts about Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, R.E.M. and the Clash in the coming days.

As well, I am still popping by Vivoscene on occasion to drop my praises on some independent and eclectic tunes, including this piece on hectic Zeniths

I have it on good authority that my effusive review of Lulu, the Lou Reed and Metallica collaboration from 2011 is the single highest viewed and commented upon piece in Vivoscene history. And while most of those comments were vituperative towards yours truly, with some wag questioning my sanity,  I find no insult in that at all. There’s no reaction like a violently critical reaction. I’ve provided a link to the piece so that you may judge for your own.

Also, stay tuned to Vivoscene as there are big plans in the works.

Early this month I began serving a three-month term as an editorial intern for Western Living magazine, doing fact checking and art sourcing. (See my name in the masthead at )

The Western Living people are great, the product is amazing, and the job is both engaging and educational. Loving my time there. Though the term ends in March I am doing all that I can to get the most out of my time there. The plan? to stay on as a freelance contributor, if not full-time staffer, and pitch stories to Western Living, Condo, and Vancouver magazine.

So far, 2012 has been quietly productive and cautiously optimistic year. Afterall, it is the Year of the Dragon so by all rights it is my year.


It’s been a fairly productive week here in North Vancouver. Not only was I treated to a blistering performance by Frank Turner at the Biltmore, but I managed a couple of reviews for my friends at Vivoscene. Below you’ll find the links to two reviews I wrote: Joe Henry’s latest Reverie  and Loutallica’s Lulu. Have already been told I’m a crackhead for liking Lulu. So sue me. Anyway, enjoy the pieces.

The Men Behind the Beast

My review of Lulu can be found here

Smoking Hot Joe Henry

For the piece on Joe Henry go to

The plan is to have something else for Vivoscene next week. In other works, my ongoing blog 35in35 is overdue for a piece on Bruce Springsteen. Stay tuned.