Sunday, April 6, 2008

REVIEW: Bruce Springsteen: San Jose 4/5/08

(Trapped from earlier on the tour.)

I almost didn't go see Bruce Springsteen in San Jose, after being disappointed with the last show I saw in Oakland in October.

That would have been a huge mistake.

This was Springsteen and the E Street Band at their best, so different from the too staid, muddy start of the tour months back.

This leg of the "Magic" tour featured the heavy metal thunder version of the band, with lots of guitar leads, lots of uptempo rockers, rare fan favorites-- and finally, lots of Clarence Clemmons on sax. In the earlier show he had been relegated to too much tambourine, and as a result, the classic sound of the early band was gone.

In a brisk two plus hours, Clemmons also sang a few times, really igniting the spark of the old days.

Maybe it was the fact that Springsteen's wife, Patti, was home with his three teenagers, of whom the New Jersey rocker said, he was worried because they had baked hash brownies, bought 100 pizzas and the Girls Gone Wild bus was pulling up, as he left for the tour.

More likely, it just took some time to find the form that fans missed, after the folk of the Seeger Sessions and the cumbersome last release, "Magic."

Let's face it: the people paying $100 for the best seats want to hear songs they don't often hear, mixed in with classic and new material.

Springsteen, 58, gave them enough of all, and on this tour, changing sets nightly, there is enough variety to see him several times.

His gimmick this time was to take requests from posters held by audience members, and even one for "Glory Days," written on the top of a bald guy's head.

Highlights for me included Jimmy Cliff's "Trapped," which shows the band's dynamic strength, going from dead quiet to explosive in the blink of an eye, and "Incident on 57th Street," which brought to mind the times this band wasn't living in the mansions on a hill.

Seemingly reluctantly, he covered his "Fire," which was a disco hit for the Pointer Sisters, and the band had fun with it and had clearly practiced this retro sound, and brought back the wonderful B-side "She's the One," which has come and gone on tours.

Springsteen also cut his guitar players a lot more slack this time, trading leads with "Miami" Steve Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren. At one point, while Lofgren was playing, Springsteen cued the sound man to turn the guitarist up.

How many frontmen have the respect for their bandmates to do that? Very few, and that's one of the thing that makes this band great. They could field a football team with the musicians on stage, but each small star gets his or her time to shine like a powerful sun.

And for the first time in too long, San Jose was a bright light in the rock sky.


Out in the Streets"

"Radio Nowhere"

"Lonesome Day"

"Gypsy Biker"

"Something in the Night"



"Reason to Believe"

"Prove It All Night"

"Livin' in the Future"

"The Promised Land"


"Incident on 57th Street"

"Devil's Arcade"

"Last to Die"

"Long Walk Home"



"Detroit Medley"

"Born to Run"

"Glory Days"

"Bobby Jean"

"American Land"

1 comment:

ChrisMooreMusic said...

I have to admit, as a BIG fan of recent Bruce Springsteen songs, I haven't piked up the Seeger Sessions yet. I really do like cover songs in moderation, but I wasn't sure that I could go a whole album without a Springsteen original. Maybe I'll give it a shot...