Tag Archives: Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band

Springsteen and his moments of miracle

Since seeing Springsteen in April, I have been completely under his spell… listening to every album in chronological order, including the box set Tracks and a handful of incredible bootlegs including Bruce and The E-Street Band Live at the Main Point in 1975 and at Winterland in 1979. Both contain there fair share of miracles… moments that make your skin tighten and your nervous system ignite. The version of E-Street Shuffle from 1975 is one of those moments; you can hear in every note that the band is playing for their lives and that Springsteen has everything to prove, everything to live and die for.

springsteen

I have also been reading Clinton Heylin’s compelling, E-Street Shuffle: The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen and The E-Street Band. It is a superbly researched book that takes the reader deep into, the at times infuriatingly perfectionist world of Springsteen, from his early days with The Castilles up to the recording of Tunnel of Love and the end of the first E-Street era. And for the real buffs, it provides detailed notes on the 300 songs Springsteen penned during this time. It really is the work of a true aficionado.

One of the few issues I took with the book was Heylin’s final note; that the moments of miracle are fewer these days. Anyone who experienced the recent ‘Wrecking’ shows would attest to the fact that night after night, Springsteen continues to perform miracles. Maybe it is because audiences go expecting nothing less, and that these days Bruce and band are performing in much larger arenas that some of the subtle magic is lost. I can’t say for sure… but what I do know, is it wasn’t lost on me.

Here’s three moments of miracle from three different E-Street eras. Get your fill.

Now I am off to start reading Peter Ames Carlin’s ‘Bruce’.

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C’mon Rise Up: One night on E-Street

It’s been almost three days since spending the night on E-Street and the high I left on is yet to lose any of its edge. Springsteen and the E-Street Band demonstrated to all that gathered why they remain a unique musical force on the world stage. Thursday night (March 14), was their first show for 2013, and the anticipation among the 17 musicians on stage (yep, you read that right) was tangible, their bond, magnetic; each of them played for their lives, wringing every last note from their respective instruments. Here’s a great example, with Nils tearing up his fretboard in Because The Night.

The set list was studded with masterpieces from their 40+ year career as well as six cuts from 2012’s Wrecking Ball. For anyone wondering whether the new material would stack up live; it more than did; set opener We Take Care Of Our Own laid the foundation for the rest of the show, Bruce and co. giving it some added grunt; and the audience reciprocated, singing it back as loud as the band pumped it out. And if that wasn’t enough to whip the crowd from their seats, the cover of Brisbane legends, The Saints 1986 classic, Just Like Fire Would, certainly did.

I have to admit, I was choking back tears for the first 5 songs… such is the emotion Springsteen creates. For me he is one of the few artists in this world that really matters; one of the few whose lyrics continue to shape lives; whose energy continues to inspire and amaze. Early classics like Spirit in the Night and E-Street Shuffle show no signs of their forty years; in fact the outro to E-Street Shuffle was one of the absolute highlights of the night; the horn section, including the late, great Clarence Clemons nephew, Jake on Saxophone, giving it some real swing.

But talk of highlights is foolish, as there was not a song in the 25 song setlist that didn’t deliver. Few artists are able to play songs spanning 40 years and have them all sit seamlessly side by side. This is yet another fact that makes this band so remarkable.

Speaking of the setlist, here it is…

We Take Care Of Our Own (from Wrecking Ball, 2012)
Just Like Fire Would (The Saints cover)
Wrecking Ball (from Wrecking Ball, 2012)
Badlands (from Darkness On The Edge Of Town
Death To My Hometown (from Wrecking Ball, 2012)
Hungry Heart (from The River, 1980)
My City of Ruins (from The Rising, 2002)
Spirit In The Night (from Greetings From Asbury Park, 1973)
The E Street Shuffle (from The Wild The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, 1973)
Jack Of All Trades (from Wrecking Ball, 2012)
Murder Incorporated (from Greatest Hits, 1985)
Johnny 99 (from Nebraska, 1982)
Because The Night (from Live 1975/85, 1986)
She’s The One (from Born To Run, 1975)
Shackled and Drawn (from Wrecking Ball, 2012)
Waitin’ On A Sunny Day (from Working On A Dream, 2009)
Apollo Medley
The Rising (from The Rising, 2002)
The Ghost Of Tom Joad (from The Ghost of Tom Joad, 1995)
Thunder Road (from Born To Run, 1975)

Encore:

We Are Alive (from Wrecking Ball, 2012)
Born To Run (from Born To Run, 1975)
Glory Days (from Born In The USA, 1984)
Dancing In The Dark (from Born In The USA, 1984)
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (from Born To Run, 1975)

I went knowing that the ghosts of Clarence and Danny would be in the room; and there were two distinct moments when you could really feel their force. Bruce asked us all to remember the ghosts who walk beside us before delivering what was one of the most spiritually uplifting moments of the night, My City Of Ruins; and in set closer, Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, he stopped the band as he finished the line;

When the change was made uptown
And the big man joined the band

and on the big screens that flickered above the stage, we were given the opportunity to say our goodbyes to the Big Man and Danny; though, as Bruce said, they will forever remain in the band.

Like the showman he is, Springsteen worked the crowd. Throughout the night he lifted two women from the audience; one to sing Waitin’ On A Sunny Day; and one to be his dance partner at the end of Dancing in the Dark; he even crowd surfed his way from the middle of the Entertainment Centre during Hungry Heart.

There was no slowing down; no letting up; the band’s contagious energy surging throughout the 3 and a bit hour show. If it takes another 10 years for the E-Street Band to reach our shores, I will be waiting. Nights like this have the power to live inside of us forever.

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Tomorrow night on E-Street

Tomorrow night, I will be on E-Street; standing beside my wife on our 4th wedding anniversary in front of one of our shared musical heroes. Life really doesn’t get much better…

Springsteen has played a vital role in my life. Way back in April 1985, I saw Bruce and the E-Street Band as they stormed the globe on the Born in the U.S.A. Tour. It was my very first taste of live music and almost 30 years on, I still tingle when I think about it. Bruce himself talks about Elvis freeing his body and Dylan freeing his mind… well, that night, Bruce freed both for me; changing forever, the way I think and feel about music and art in general. That night, dancing down the street after the gig, I felt something that I had never known. A fire and a joy that were simultaneously making me laugh, sing and cry.

Bruce’s commitment and passion have continued to be a guiding light in the way I approach my own work… the willingness to stand behind your words, no regrets; to leave nothing behind when you get an opportunity to stand on stage in front of an audience. These principles continue to drive me…

I know tomorrow night is going to be wildly emotional… there will be no Clarence on stage, no Danny, but I’m sure they’ll be in the room… where else would they want to be? As Bruce said, Danny and Clarence haven’t left the E-Street band because they are no longer with us; they leave the band, when the band dies.

And the band is far from that… For the committed, the hungry and the hunted, here’s the full audio from one of the Wrecking Ball shows last year, all three and a bit hours of it:

For those of you looking for a smaller bite, here’s Bruce and band playing Tenth Avenue Freeze Out at last year’s SXSW festival:

See you on the other side of E-Street!

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Lost Shark Radio #2 – Long Live Clarence Clemons

My heart broke a little today when I learned that the great Clarence ‘Big Man’ Clemons had passed away on June 18. Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band gave me my first live music experience way back in 1985 when they toured the country for the first time on the back of the mammoth, Born in the USA album. I have vivid memories of Clarence and Bruce standing side by side, leaning in that little bit, stoking the fire inside each other. His playing on songs like Thunder Road & Born to Run will remain timeless, but it is the solo on Jungleland that makes my skin tighten and the hairs on my neck dance.

Here he is blowing that legendary sax, live in Hyde Park in 2009:

With the loss of Danny Federici in 2008 and now Clarence, the E-Street Band will be forever changed… so it is only fitting to leave the last word to Bruce:

Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage. His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly forty years. He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band.

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