Thursday, August 21, 2008

Springsteen review, SCI (virtually), The Gambler, John Fogerty

First things first, the Bruce show was excellent. I got into the pit and it was very easy, not too time consuming and soooooooo worth it. Got a numbered wristband at around 3:30 at the Coliseum. Headed down to Capital Ale House. There was a line so we went back to Penny Lane. I hadn't been there in a long time and I remembered how much I liked it. Will have to get back there more often. Had a beer then walked back to the Colisuem where they lined up those with wristbands in groups of 100 (0 - 99, 100 - 199, etc.). We had four numbers in the 560s. They told us that 700 people would get into the pit. There were 1100 people with wristbands so that was pretty good odds. They grabbed someone from a line to pull a number and he pulled ...... 007. Yes! We were in along with everyone else who had a number from 007 to 707. Then more lines as we waited to get a pink wristband to get in the pit, then another line to wait to get into the arena. Lines would be a theme of the night for the Coliseum. In all, process was very well run and we were into the arena around 6:15.

I must say that the Coliseum is absolutely horrible for lines. The people who work there were trying their best and they tried to put beer or food vending in as many nooks and crannies in the hallways as possible. But this place is ill-equipped for a sold-out crowd. As the place filled up, every food or beer line was a minimum of a 30 minute wait. Me and the three guys I was with kept rotating so there was usually a fresh beer coming within a few minutes of running out. But if they aren't going to tear this place down and build a new one, they really need to knock out the outer walls, widen the concourses (which feel like they are as wide as my living room) and add more refreshment vending.

Onto the show. They purposely did not pack the pit completely full, so it was nice and roomy with room to dance. We positioned ourselves in front of Clarence and toward the back of the pack because we didn't need to get crushed right up front. Even that put us at the equivalent of about the 10th row. If Bruce comes back, I will definitely go for general admission again and try to get in the pit. Even if I didn't get in the pit, I would rather be in the general General Admission area than up in the second level where half the lame-o's were sitting on their fat asses for most of the show.

Bruce opened with one of his greatest songs, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out", working the crowd from the moment he got on stage to get to their feet. He then didn't let up through a blistering six-pack of songs to open:

Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Radio Nowhere
Out in the Street
Prove It All Night
Lonesome Day
Spirit in the Night

Then came the first request of the night. On the second leg of this tour, Bruce has begun to ask for signs from the audience. He then collects the signs (and he got at least 20 on the first try) and goes through them. Finally, he picks one out, shows it to the band and away they go. What's amazing is that other than some looks between the band and questions of what key something is in, they nail it. Tonight, the first request taken was for "Stand On It", a rockabilly song originally the B-side of "Glory Days", then showing up on the "Tracks" box set. Next up another request, another rocker, "Cadillac Ranch". It occurred to me that though we must switch to more fuel-efficient cars, no one will ever write a song about a Camry Hybrid. Next up another request and one of the highlights of the night for me, a thrilling rendition of "Backstreets".

I put together as much of the Richmond show as I could get on video, in order, from roulette909 & DevDev’s videos in one of my playlists on YouTube: Once you get there, scroll down until you get to the first one, Lonesome Day, and click it. Once that one ends, you can look to the Playlist section to the right of the video and then click Play Next to work your way through if it doesn’t Autoplay. Sound varies depending on the vantage of the videographer (roulette behind the stage, DevDev dead center in the front) but generally isn’t too bad. DevDev captures Bruce close-up and roulette provides a nice vantage of the audience, especially during Mary's Place.

If you only have a little time, be sure to check out DevDev’s videos of Backstreets and Crush on You and roulette's Mary's Place.

Anyway, after "Backstreets", Bruce did the song that I totally didn't want him to do, "For You". This is not one of my favorite songs, and he has done it in the last four shows I have seen. And its not like he plays it a lot. But it did give me a chance to go on a beer run. I found a short line, and "For You" is a fairly long song, but as was the course for the night, even a short line at the Coliseum is a long line and I missed the next song, "Youngstown" and Nils Lofgren's killer guitar solo.

Next, more of my favorites, "Murder Incorporated" and "She's The One". "Livin' In the Future" from the Magic CD was next, then a reclaimed "Mary's Place". "Mary's Place" was a centerpiece on the Rising tour, but when they did this in C'ville, it seemed somewhat lackluster. This version was absolutley kick-ass with Bruce getting into rock n' roll preacher mode and the crowd going nuts.

"I'll Work For Your Love" from the Magic CD was next and was fine, but it seemed the audience and the band were taking a breather on this mid-tempo number. It did provide the crowd and Bruce to congratulate Clarence on his recent marriage.

Finally, the set closing four pack that has remained constant throughout the tour:
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home

This captures Bruce's message of hope and political change both implied (Rising, Badlands) and overt (Last To Die & Long Walk Home, both from the latest CD, Magic). Long Walk Home really seems to have been adopted by the fans. Badlands closed the set in typical sing-along, fist-pumping fashion and then, after about a two minute break, it was onto the encores.

And that's were the fun really began. The eight-song (!) encore opened with a request for a song last played in 1980, "Crush On You". Bruce said ""We firmly believe this is the worst song we ever put on a record," Bruce laughed, also revealing that he took the riff from the Car 54, Where Are You? theme." After a few seconds with the band figuring out the riff and what key (it has been 28 years after all), they launched into it with passion and it was a lot of fun, with Bruce remarking when it was done, "That wasn't bad, not bad at all".

Then, a song that used to close shows back in the 70s, "Quarter to Three", a song originally by one of Bruce's main influences, Gary "U.S." Bonds. This was another blast to sing and dance with and the band and audience were really having fun. Then the obilgatory "Born To Run", which is still great to hear and still provides a chill when the house lights come on for the whole song and you watch the whole arena sing-along.

Rosie came on out, with an awesome version of "Rosalita", then "Bobby Jean" with Clarence nailing the solo (he was dead-on all night). "Dancing in the Dark" brought back some good memories of 1984, and Bruce came about a half-inch from accidentally nailing Little Steven in the face with his guitar, when Bruce swung his guitar around his body to start the song (watch the video). Little Steven couldn't help but keep showing the rest of the band how close Bruce had come, holding his fingers thisclose together as they had a good laugh during the song. The Celtic-influenced ode to the immigrants that built this country "American Land" was next. Finally, Bruce brought out Richmond's own Robbin Thompson, who was also in one of Bruce's early bands, Steel Mill, (see last week's blog), for a rousing rendition of "Twist and Shout". We left the show exhausted, hoarse, amazed and aglow as we once again felt the power that is a Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band show.

Not a lot going on in Richmond this weekend as things slow down until after Labor Day. At the Capital Ale House Downtown, its not String Cheese Incident but its as close as you'll get since they broke up. Its the String Cheese Incident Virtual Concert Hi-Def from Red Rocks. Doors open at 9:30 and tix are $10. This is a "a life size and on-stage premiere screening of The String Cheese Incident's final two performances at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on August 11th & 12th, 2007."

Out at Charlottesville Pavilion, on Saturday night is The Gambler himself, Kenny Rogers. Show starts at 7 PM and tix range from $34.50 - 61.50. On Sunday night at the Pavilion is CCR founder and roots rock master, John Fogerty. Show starts at 7 and tix are $37 (GA) and $69 (reserved).

Finally, another festival webcast, this one from the Outside Lands festival, taking place in beautiful Golden Gate Park in SF, CA. The webcast will be on the AT&T Blue Room on Friday (starting at 8:30 PM ET), Saturday (starting at 4 PM ET) and Sunday (starting at 4 PM ET). We unfortunately won't get to see Friday headliners, Radiohead, or Saturday headliners, Tom Petty. But highlights will include Bela Fleck, Steve Winwood, Ben Harper & Innocent Criminals and Primus on Saturday and Sharon Jones & Dap Kings and Cake on Sunday. You can see Sunday's headliner, Jack Johnson, at 10:40 PM on Sunday so if you are having trouble falling asleep that will be like a big glass of warm milk and about as exciting.

And on that note, I am outta here. Have a great weekend!

Tony Jordan