Just returned from the second night, which was very similar to Opening Night, with a couple of big adds, but I will get to that, first some observations.
I’m watching this show, which went 2:45, and thinking I am nearly 8 years younger than Bruce and not in terrible shape, OK I might be in terrible shape, but still I am exhausted from two nights of watching this, how the man does it, how the band does it, is just incredible, actually awe-inspiring. Every young band who is trying to establish themselves, or is just starting to tour, should be forced to watch this, to see how the E Streeters bring it every night. It is truly joyful.
Max: This current set truly spotlights Max, it seems that every song he is front and center, and never has the nickname “Mighty Max” been more apt. He is bringing it for the entire show, power personified, driving the entire band…never taking his eyes off his boss, so he can react to him, with him…he is truly a great rock drummer…and having seen him this summer playing jazz in a tiny club, a great drummer.
The E Street Horns; What a great addition, Bruce has toured with horns previously, most notably in ’76 and in ’88, but for some reason this section seems more important than ever. They truly fill out the enormous sound that the E Street Band puts forth, and Bruce as a fan of great rock, of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, utilizes them brilliantly. They play a role in each in each song it seems.
Nils Lofgren: Nils flashes his guitar like a switchblade, well maybe more like a sword, but the whirling dervish was back tonight. Full disclosure, I was a huge Nils fan long before he joined the E Street Band, and would kill to see Nils put his band back together and tour, or maybe convince Bruce to break out Moon Tears or Keith Don’t Go, just once. Back to tonight, it should be a law on E Street that in every show Nils gets at least one front and center solo, tonight he got it….which leads to the two big adds of the evening.
Replacing Lonesome Days was “Because the Night”, one of my all-time favorites and one of the great live songs in Bruce’s repertoire. As soon as the first keys were twinkled by Roy, I thought I’d lose it, it is a rarity to catch it live, so when you here it you know you are in for something special, and it was. Of course culminated by Nils’ blistering solo, finishing with his whirling dervish act, which had him spinning about a dozen times and whipping an already frenzied crowd into hysteria….a mighty addition over Lonesome Days.
Next, replacing American Land in the encore, was former staple, and now a crowd-loving surprise, yes, Rosie came out tonight. Other than it no longer contains the band introductions, the slot it held for what seemed like 2-3 decades, Rosie is still Rosie, but now a great old friend, and to this listener, better on rare occassions, than as a nightly visitor. Sidenote on Rosie, you can see in Steven’s face, that he loves playing Rosalita. As a replacement over American Land, this one is a massacre, easily take Rosie every time.
Obsesrvation on Steven, Bruce has been referring to him as Steven Van Zandt, has the Little Steven monikor been retired? Has it gone the way of Miami Steve and Sugar Miami? Will have to watch that one.
OK, that’s the first leg for me, many shows for them to refine the act, until I catch up with them again in 3 weeks in NYC. I will be watching the set lists with angst and excitement, hoping I don’t miss something spectacular, I should have taken a hiatus.
Finally for the ones out there who want “classic rock” Bruce, give this material a chance, “Wrecking Ball” is a superb album, and the more I hear it, the more I believe its tone, its message makes it possibly the most important recording of his career…and trust me, it rocks live.
And a big shout-out/thank you to my good friend Billy Robinson for doctoring this site and Bruce-ifying it. And for good laugh each morning check out Billy’s blog, itsnotonthetest.com