Thursday, July 16, 2009
I've had a number of messages asking "Why?" so I'll try to answer...
Go to see Springsteen that is. Well, there are a number of reasons and without getting messy, I consider the E-Street Band to be something of a force of nature. Nils Lofgren might not be an original E-streeter but he can make this guitar talk alright. (Little) Steven Van Zandt, in my opinion is of good standing on a number of levels, not least his championing of (mainly) great rock'n'roll. Anybody that makes Palmyra Delran and The Nomads "coolest songs" is doing fine by me. And when Clarence Clemons blows that saxophone, I genuinely feel like I was hit by a truck and the only real highpoints on Tuesday were when the big man played. He’s the closest thing to Lee Allen we have left.
There's also the question that the only person who could really fill Danny Federici's involvement would have been Joe Terry and they don't got him. The show itself was OK. A little heavy on the more recent stuff but I might have felt different if they played "Jungleland". Who knows. But the location did them no favours at all. Hampden is not designed for concerts, pure and simple.
But let's start a little earlier on the approach to Central Station to make the (usually) 20 minute journey out to the closest stop. You'd think that heading out at 5pm to get there for 5.30pm would be fine. After all the scheduled start time was allegedly 7.30pm. But no, Scotrail wisdom means that a mega-queue is formed that must snaked all the way down and back along Argyle Street. For anybody not familiar with the terrain, it was bloody long. It was 6.45pm when we got to the destination and had another 1o minute walk to the (feels hackles rise) "venue".
Picking up the tickets and passes was a skoosh. Great. That worked and it seemed like things were getting back on track. There was some dubiety with the security as to what was where but that was dealt with professionally. By the time we got there, it was way past any chance of getting to see SVZ so perhaps I should just have left then and headed back into town.
The Herald and The Scotsman were peculiarly positive given what I witnessed. Elements of both were true but didn't mention the fact that the sound was quite often abysmal. The drum sound in particular was dampened to the extent that it sounded like a whoosh instead of the crack Weinberg trademark american beat. I also miss the days in which The Boss seemed to care rather than deliver the same old sermon. Lofgren playing "Flower of Scotland" as an opener was inspired rabble rousing and let me tell you there was some sprawl of rabble present. A good number more interested in the drinks dispensers on legs that were selling piss lager for £3.75 a tumblerful. It would have meant so much more if he’d gotten together “Shout” or a BCR medley. This is the main problem, the man seems to be on a hopped up autopilot with the band backing him. He needs to take stock of the fact that these guys are the secret formula.
"We want to build a house of love..." said Bruce in that by now well-worn banter. "Aye but ye'll no get planning permission..." countered Captain Kruickshank. Evidently The Boss has never had a tussle with the local government in these parts. The sheer scale just overwhelmed me and I wonder if most of the folk present aren't just conditioned into this mass consumption trip. Of course, the argument is - what else can you do with an act this big - but really there must be more imaginative, more tasteful ways to make it more of an event. My mind drifted back to the infinite bliss of last week’s incident at Carnegie Hall in Dunfermline.
I've witnessed Bruce turn (the old) Wembley into the Stone Pony before but that didn't happen on Tuesday. Several staunch Springsteen fans will validate my reporting as not just another grumpy tirade too just incase you reckon that's what this is. Just as well I didn't manage to get my "Dream Baby Dream” banner done after all. I wouldn't have gotten close enough to hand it over anyway. As I understand it, this particular Jersey landmark will be going the way of the boardwalk to be boarded up for all eternity sometime around November time. At least in terms of trucking around the world.
Anyway, when more than 50,000 punters spill out of a stadium you can bet that it's not a cool experience. The evening came to a climax with having to walk 3.6 miles, missing the last train and having to take a taxi back to the car in order to make it home. So, in summary - your reporter will not be attending any events of this scale in the UK ever again. If Hello Saferide or Matt and Kim become as big as is deserving then I'll make a special clause for them but anything else, no way, no how.
Here's the setlist and a report from Backstreets, obviously written by a fan. Even if it had been the greatest show ever, the bookends of the hassle to and from would put the proverbial tits on a boiled egg. Still it was nothing if not an adventure and whatever doesn't kill you for damn sure teaches you a lesson. An expensive one but a lesson nonetheless.