Some people are just never satisfied.
There's this sort of "fan" in the Springsteen world who seems to spend all of his time complaining. It's one of those "can't win" situations because it hardly matters what Bruce does: it's just wrong. Josh Hathaway and his mysterious and knowledgeable cohort 11 refer to this person as BruceFan™. Perfect.
First complaint: Bruce doesn't sound like Bruce anymore. This obviously began all the way back in the Human Touch/Lucky Town era but has extended all the way through The Rising. Then Magic comes out, a true E Street record if my ears have ever heard one. BruceFan™ says, "It's clichéd, almost like Bruce is trying to parody his own sound." Right. I hate when Springsteen does this too, and am looking forward to his album of Yngwie Malmsteen covers. Sheesh!
The concerts: they're no longer a spiritual experience, Springsteen is just mailing it in, they're too short, the setlists are too predictable, "Born To Run" is no longer relevant, Patti annoys me, Steve is fat, Clarence is old.
What this all boils down to is that BruceFan™ is the one getting on in years, the bitterness dripping from the fact that it is no longer 1978. Live with it pal, it's all downhill from here! And please, stop wasting your money on those tickets.
Last night in Hartford, Connecticut, the Magic tour resumed with a solid repudiation of all that is BruceFan.™ The crowd had that electric crackle of anticipation, a feeling that went supernova when the lights dimmed and the E Street Band launched into the obscure "So Young And In Love." What followed was an adrenaline-charged show that was peppered with several rarely-played songs including "Janey Don't You Lose Heart" (with great vocal by Nils Lofgren), "Loose Ends," and "The River" (not super obscure, but not a setlist regular either). It was stunning.
It's obvious that both the band and the fans have grown into the material from Magic. Songs like "Gypsy Biker" (with vicious three-way guitar attack), "Devils Arcade," and "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" feel like they've been around forever. Really nice.
On top of the rarity-provided energy jolt, the masterstroke came late in the encore set when Bruce audibled (don't you love sports analogies?!) "Backstreets" after "Girls In Their Summer Clothes." There were a lot of "Oh my God"'s to be heard as Roy Bittan played out that intro. I didn't see this coming, and it made my one assigned task — texting the song playing at 10:15 to Josh, fodder for his B-Sides Concept Album radio show. I'm known for my lack of text message experience and, let me tell you, texting "Backstreets!" with shaking hands? Not So easy. We were not allowed to catch our collective breath as Bruce leaned into the searing guitar introduction to "Kitty's Back" (this time, my text message only took 30 seconds, down from over a minute). Going all the way back to The Wild, The Innocent, & the E Street Shuffle, "Kitty's" pretty much defines the early Springsteen era: an intense mix of blues, soul, jazz, and rock. This was the "over the top" moment of the evening.
"Born To Run" followed, house lights up. I don't know how many people fit into the Hartford Civic Center, but every single one of them was up: dancing and singing. It's quite amazing to share this experience with a roomful of strangers. Not a spiritual experience? Only if you're dead inside.
The show ended with "American Land." BruceFan™ hates this too because "everybody hates it." Has dancing with unhinged levels of energy become the new way to express hatred? Must be!
Anyway, me and TheWife™ were totally drained (we were also wondering if Blogcritics' own Lisa McKay survived her experience down in the pit — a post-show phone call confirmed that Lisa was now 20 pounds lighter due to fluid loss but was never washing again as Bruce may have sweated on her at her third row, center position).
We floated back around the corner to our hotel, where I proceed to check in with Josh's show, followed by a shower and dive into bed. Sleep seems so delicious after a night like this.
I, for one, am satisfied.