Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tramps Like Us (And We Like Tramps)

Oh, is it Shark Week already? I hadn't noticed, since I've been, as you might know, living every week like it's Shark Week.

So: I went to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Giants Stadium on Sunday night. And what a show it was. I've never been to a concert of that magnitude, with a crowd so large. It was pretty wild. As far as the music, I have to say I was just blown away. You hear about a lot of older acts going on tour, playing hour-long sets and charging exorbitant ticket prices for a sub-par experience, but with these guys, it was not the case. In a three-hour set, there was only about ten minutes of dead time, mostly before the encore. It wasn't even really dead time, since Max Weinberg played for that space. Three hours! Without pause! It's incredible to see a group of people who play so well together performing just for the love of performing.

I've heard a lot about how Springsteen live is one of the greatest shows in rock and roll, a trek that every fan must make, lest they get to the end of their life and realize, "I never saw Springsteen in concert." I understand now the pilgrimage-to-Mecca kind of fervor some of the truest fans have: the show was like a religious experience. For a sixty-year-old man, Springsteen on stage is like a tent-revivalist. He walks all around, he lies down on the ground when the music or the emotion leads him to. The crowd plays their part, singing every word and ooh-ing along with him or without him. He even repeats phrases throughout the show, like "Can you feel the spirit in here tonight?" He repeats them over and over, and you hardly notice when he starts singing them, and before long, he's in the middle of the song and you're wondering where you were when it started. It was amazing to behold. When he played "Jungleland" (the necessity of the saxophone I only understand after seeing it performed live) followed immediately by "Born to Run," it was the closest thing I've ever seen to mass religious ecstacy. For the older crowd that grew up with this, and the younger crowd who is just now experiencing the frustration of being young and trapped, it was a moment of cross-generational connection.

When he spun his guitar around his body three (or was it four?) times, the entire feeling of concert-as-religious-gathering was confirmed. Like the sign of the cross at the end of a Catholic Mass, it was a kind of benediction, a sending-forth into the wider world to go with peace.

1 comment:

Loren said...

Fuck, now I have to see Him before I die. I caught a recorded concert of theirs on PBS a few nights ago, and I was hopping around and pumping my fists in the air. I got into that high state of excitement where you feel like one more ounce of emotion is going to make you cry for no reason, just because the energy needs to come OUT of you some way, or the kind that changes the pitch your voice involuntarily. Becca was a little scared, but she was more amazed at how good they are. And I always hated Max Weinberg on Conan (it was Conan, right?) but HOLY SHIT! On stage he just kicks so much ass. I couldn't believe it. They are so amazing.