So I finally saw Bruce. This isn’t saying too much, as I’ve only been into his music for a few years now, and have been at the point where I could afford tickets for even less time than that. Yet, the fact that you don’t need to include a last name when describing the man says enough about his legendary status in the music industry. There’s a very simple reason for his success.
Bruce is fantastic. At everything. Every single damn thing he does is great. He sings, he dances, he acts, and he commands the stage while charming you into mush. He is a natural-born leader, and eloquent talker, and a complete Alpha Male. The man could race a sled across the Arctic without ever having seen snow, and get there just in time to deliver the life saving medicine. Yes, I’ve seen Balto. It was good…
Most importantly, Bruce is a fantastic songwriter and is completely relatable as a person. He is rich as hell by this point, but still comes off like he had to rush to the concert after closing up the local liquor store for the night. Springsteen’s ‘everyman’ vibe makes anybody feel at home, and puts him on such equal terms that it’s impossible not to love him. His songs alternate from gigantic, rousing anthems to tender, heartbroken ballads; he acts calm, collect, and it never even looks like he’s trying to move you. Yet, he simply does. It’s all natural and a part of his world, so when you’re at his show it seems like he’s personally invited you in. There’s also 20,000 others he extended the invite to, but it doesn’t matter and you end up feeling special nonetheless. Everybody belongs there, the camaraderie is firmly in place, and you’re together for the long run. That long run is three hours of excellent music, interspersed with wise, witty observations and a tendency to be ridiculously entertaining.
The show itself was great. Madison Square Garden was packed with what seemed like all of New York, but was probably just most of New Jersey. Wow does this state love Bruce Springsteen. He could run for any office and there wouldn’t need to be an election. He took the stage to Frank Sinatra’s “Theme from New York, New York,” then was happy to point out the man himself was from New Jersey, as well as the Statue of Liberty and the world champion New York Giants’ home turf. The E Street Band ripped through hit after hit, old songs and new, and had this occasionally daunting habit of ending every single song like it’s the last one they’ll ever play. While doing so may not always be necessary, it certainly drives the point home that they are the reason you’re there, and you best not forget it.
There were probably eight extra people on stage to add various types of percussion, horns, and soul singing to every well-worn Bruce standard. While the result was plenty of noise, I must admit it was well orchestrated and never interfered with the singer himself. It’s what anybody can expect from having the same band for 40 years (yes, that number is correct). As a final comment, the crater left by the passing of Clarence Clemons won’t ever be filled, but his nephew Jake has put a solid board over the hole; it’s one that would make his uncle very, very proud.
I came up with a personal theory a while back which states that one hasn’t really matured until they appreciate the work of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. After Monday, I have obtained a first-hand account that I’m at least half right (and maybe half crazy, too).