Back on the road again, after 6 weeks off and a summer of stadium shows across Europe and the U.S. it was good to be back in an arena. And this was “an arena” the old, cramped, Civic Center, now known as the XL Center, for you New Yorkers think the Nassau Coliseum, and for the Los Angelenos reading, the Sports Arena, and these old stand-bys bring out the best in Bruce and the band, probably the intimacy. For me helped to be there with my two original Bruce partners, Stu and Billy, first time for just the 3 of us in about 25 years.
This was show #13 for me and it was well-worth with 8 songs not heard by these ears on this tour, one not heard by any ears at all across the world, and that is why the Lonnie Wrecking Ball Tour of 2012 continues.
An opening with rarely played “Held Up without a Gun” all 1:15 of it, right into the nearly as rarely played on this tour, “Radio Nowhere”, and that was right into “Jackson Cage” and before a sweat was even worked up, 3 songs I hadn’t seen on the WB 12 tour. “Hungry Heart” made it 3 of 4 from The River and set the tone for the night as a River-heavy show. Pretty standard for the next 5 songs, then Bruce started taking some requests and the first was the tour premiere of “Cadillac Ranch” which just killed, followed by another request the beautiful and always haunting “Incident on 57th Street” which went right into the rarely played, and one of my personal favorites, “Point Blank” with Roy standing out on piano. Time to rev it up again, and what better than the incendiary “Because the Night” with Nils tearing it up, and I swear there was smoke coming off of his guitar after his prolonged solo. Speaking of which, a question for guitar players, right before his solo, I saw Nils wash his guitar neck down with water, have never seen that before, does that do something for the sound? Or were his strings just too hot :). Next up, also from The River, another rarity and the 6th selection of the evening that I haven’t seen this tour, “You Can Look, but You Better Not Touch” and that followed with one more River number, “Out in the Street’ which found Bruce out in the audience, giving a kiss to Max’s 97 year old mom. Two songs later the band departs, and Bruce sits down at the piano, and that always signals a special and rare moment, and this one didn’t disappoint, a solo piano version of “For You” beautiful wouldn’t be an apt enough description, the 7th Lonnie tour debut for me (although I had seen acoustic guitar version this tour). Then “Badlands”/”Land of Hope and Dreams” to finish out the main set portion of the show.
And the encore opens with one of Bruce’s all-time classics and this was the best I have ever seen it performed, a 17 minute version of “The Wild, the Innocent and The E Street Shuffle” classic, the amazing “Kitty’s Back”. It’s possible that no song Bruce has ever written was meant more to be performed with a horn section than this one, and a better 17 minutes of music would be hard-pressed to find. Bruce, while the great rock-and-roller, showed his musical chops on this song, because this is truly a jazz improvisation. Nine, count them, nine solos within the song, starting with Charlie on organ, followed by each of the 5 horn players, Max on drums, Roy on piano and then Bruce himself with a searing guitar, “here she comes, here she comes”, yes Kitty was back in town. The rest of the encore section was fairly typical with the addition of “Bobby Jean”.
To answer the question, they are all great shows, for me it’s all about the set-list and with “Kitty” becoming my 8th tour premiere, this one was special. Spanish Johnny, Kitty, Stu and Billy, a perfect night.
A taste of the opening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VrCqUH3ZwHU
Tomorrow night, rock city as we had to Pittsburgh.