Thursday, October 5, 2017

Review - Springsteen on Broadway


Well, I did it.  I was one of the lucky few selected in the lottery to attend Springsteen On Broadway, one of the hottest tickets in town.  Honestly, I didn't tell many of my friends I was going in the weeks leading up to it, for fear of jinxing it.  It was also the first time in my fandom that I felt nervous about seeing Springsteen, due to the exorbitant price of the tickets (I can only imagine how those who resorted to StubHub must have felt dropping well over $2,000) as well as seeing Springsteen in a completely new environment.  Up until this point, the smallest venue I've seen Springsteen at is the PNC Arts Center, which has a capacity of 17,500.  At the Walter Kerr Theater, Springsteen would be playing to a crowd roughly 1/20th the size of that.

I purposely avoided any articles about the show.  I wanted to go in cold.  So, if you feel the same way, I won't be offended if you turn away now.  I don't plan on going into "spoilers", but I respect you all enough to give you fair warning.  My major questions were:

  • What would Springsteen do?  It is Broadway, after all.  Would it be a solo acoustic set?  Would he treat it like a concert?  Would there be huge dance numbers with a full ensemble?
  • How would the audience react?  Would they be shouting "BRUUUUUUCEEE"?  Would little girls climb up on stage to sing "Waitin' On A Sunny Day"?  Or, would I be surrounded by Rich Uncle Pennybags types - classy theater folk who are just there to be seen?

Arriving about an hour early, I settled into the "cheap" seats and admired the view.  Any concerns I had about the seating in the theater instantly vanished.  As I could hear the conversations of people in the front row, it dawned on me that this would be the closest I've ever watched Bruce live (save for a brief moment where he popped up on a platform near me at Giants Stadium).  And yes, this photo was technically "illegal", as the security guards asked everyone not to take photography in the theater.  However, this rule was about as enforced as the jaywalking laws are in the nearby Times Square.


Before the show started, I made sure to thoroughly empty my bladder, as I did not expect there to be an "Outlaw Pete" pee-break.  During this time, I scoped out the merchandise.  They had standard Springsteen event goods - t-shirts, hoodies, and posters all in the $40 range.  I opted for the Springsteen tumbler you see above, which came when you ordered a beer/wine/cocktail.  For $15, I justified it as $10 for the cup and $5 for the beer.  But, after you spend as much as a flight to Los Angeles on a Broadway ticket, it basically seemed free.

Anyway, onto a formal review of the show:

To answer the first question - what would Springsteen do?  Well, Springsteen delivered a two-hour, 15-song acoustic set that was ostensibly his autobiography adapted for the stage.   As in his four-hour concerts, Springsteen covered a wide array of topics - from family, to love, to politics, to the meaning of life, all underscored by the one unifying force that had brought this all to him: his music.  For those who love Springsteen's speeches during his concerts, this is the show for you.  You'll hear stories that'll make you laugh, that'll depress you (wryly acknowledged by Springsteen), and that'll inspire you.  While I won't go into the specifics of the setlist (I'm sure it is online by now), there is not a clunker in the bunch.  The setlist has been excellently curated, perhaps the best sequential ordering I've seen at any Springsteen event.  The songs compliment the stories, and bridge the gap from one subject to the next.  You know certain hits will be played no matter where Springsteen shows up, but there were a couple of newer songs that were appreciated by this young(-ish) fan.

To answer the second question - how would the audience react?  While there was a couple of hobnobbers there, I'd say the fan lottery worked, as the place was filled with Bruce die-hards.  I had to go by myself (I couldn't get two tickets to the same show), but I was surrounded by other single-concert goers, as well as friendly, excited fans that were just as curious as I was about what was going to transpire.  The newness of the experience could be felt by all - it was Bruce's second night after all.  The audience wasn't sure when to laugh, or sing-along, or dance in the aisles (I'm not sure if Bruce knew these answers either).  But, overall, it was a fantastic energy and a fantastic crowd.

I've seen it said that this is not a concert - it's a show, and I absolutely agree.  While it is only about half the length of a normal Springsteen concert, it does not feel short.  You may not be physically drained from standing and dancing, but it plays with your heart all night.  I really don't need to tell you that you got to see this show - it feels like rubbing it in at this point.  But, I will do my best below to help you feel the experience.  The following photos are: the stage post concert, Springsteen and Patti leaving the theater, and the Playbill (you can click them all to embiggen).  Thanks for reading!













Tuesday, October 3, 2017

R.I.P. Tom Petty





Yesterday, the music world lost yet another legend in the great Tom Petty.  While Petty is known for working with tons of other musicians, like Stevie Nicks and the Traveling Wilburys, there is surprisingly very little crossover between Petty and Springsteen.  However, I did find this photo and clip from a No Nukes benefit concert they did together in 1979 (but you can't really see Petty in the video).  With Springsteen on Broadway debuting tonight, I believe it is safe to assume the performance will include some tribute to Tom Petty.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Great Moments in Springsteen Transportation History - The E Street Shuttle


Last weekend, I had the privilege of going to a lovely wedding in central NJ.  While I've recently moved to Bruce's old stomping ground, there's still plenty I have yet to experience in the 732 area code.  You can feel Bruce's influence throughout the area, from the music, to the style, to, apparently, the modes of transportation.

Yes, indeed, the shuttle that serviced us from the ceremony to the reception was none other than the E Street Shuttle.  This retro-style shuttle got us around Ocean Avenue in style.  It had an amazing sound system, complete with vintage record players (which I have to assume is for when the shuttle is stationery).  With cold beverages and comfortable seats, I'll have to keep this shuttle in mind for future events, such as a bachelor party, trip to Atlantic City, or going to the post office.  Seriously, I want to go on again.

Thanks for reading about a bus named after a Springsteen song.  I know it's just a bus named after a Springsteen song, but, you know, it's a bus named after a Springsteen song!


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Great Moments in Springsteen Television History - Sealab 2021



After last month's 30 Day Challenge, I was pretty burnt out on Springsteen.  Even the announcement of Springsteen on Broadway didn't inspire me to get back on my Springsteen fanblog game. (Mainly because this ticketing system seems doomed to fail.  Don't say I didn't warn you! Don't you dare say it!)

So, what have I been doing with my summer?  Re-watching Sealab 2021.  A cartoon that has somewhat been forgotten over the last 15 years, Sealab 2021 was one of Adult Swim's first original shows, along with Aqua Teen Hunger Force and The Brak Show.  It was created by Adam Reed, who would go on to greater success with the hit show Archer.  However, those early Adult Swim years left a strong impression on many people around my age, as the shows introduced many of us to the strange, experimental comedy that can be done with almost no budget.

When re-watching any show from your past, it'll be impossible to escape the nostalgia.  Even though I'm watching these Sealabs as I'm getting ready for work, I'm still transported to being a 17-year-old staying up disturbingly late on Sunday nights to get a glimpse of this bizarro show.   There are tons of quotes that instantly come rushing back, though I haven't thought about them in over a decade.  When I saw the above clip, I was shocked by how clearly I remembered it, yet can't believe I haven't written about it on this blog before.

In this episode, the Sealab gang is trapped in a closet.  That's all you really know.  And, Captain Murphy (voiced by the late, great Harry Goz) fights back against a subordinate trying to give him orders, asking if Bruce Springsteen should find a new nickname.  Unfortunately, this was met with blank stares, as the crew doesn't know who Springsteen is.

This episode aired April 7, 2002, so just a bit before The Rising was released.  So, perhaps it was conceivable that in 19 years, people would forget who Springsteen was.  Fortunately, Sealab's prediction was wrong - given his sustained popularity in the 21st century, I doubt a Springsteen reference will fly over anyone's head in four years.

Friday, June 30, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 30


Finally!  The last day! My favorite song at this time last year!  Let's do this!



Last year, Bruce was in the middle of his River tour, and man did it deliver.  During the summer last year, I was probably listening to "Meet Me In The City", as well as many other tracks from The Ties That Bind (although I've never really given it a proper review - something to remember for a future post).  While the new songs have been mostly forgotten, "Meet Me In The City" still brings up fond memories of 2016.

That's it!  Challenge completed!  Now, if anybody ever asks if I listed 30 Springsteen songs, I can say a resounding "Hell yes."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 29


Two more to go!  For day 29, I have to pick a song from my childhood.  While I'd love to say my mom sang Springsteen songs as lullabies to me, that sadly is not the case.  However, as I grew up in the late 80s/early 90s, Springsteen was everywhere and unavoidable.



"Born In The U.S.A." doesn't seem to get much play on the radio nowadays, but I swear, back 25-30 years ago, it was everywhere.  While my memory may be fuzzy, I'm willing to bet it's the first song that I knew was sung by a guy named "Bruce Springsteen".  The entire Born In The USA  album was probably the soundtrack for a lot of 80s babies.

What Springsteen song reminds you of your childhood?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 28


We're in the home stretch with a strange one - a song that makes you feel guilty.  Unlike a guilty pleasure, which I ranted about two weeks ago, today I actually have to pick a song that I feel bag when I rock out to.  Let's go:



"Trapped" is a fantastic cover, and a great song to see live (the coordinated fist-pump is a bit corny, but I dig it).  However, it's about a guy in a terrible relationship, which makes it somewhat difficult to relate to, as I've never really felt caught or manipulated by a significant other.  Being in a very loving relationship, I definitely feel guilty when I'm blasting a song about how awful someone's partner treats them.  Still, it's pretty catchy.

What Springsteen song makes you feel guilty?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 27


Day 27 is pure wish-fulfillment: what song do I wish I could play?  Not going to lie: I often walk down the streets with my music blasting in my ears, fantasizing about playing in front of thousands of adoring fans.  Is that relatable, or just sad? You decide.



As I've already shared an embarrassing way I listen to "The Promised Land", I might as well share that one of my rock-and-roll dreams is going up on stage and nailing the harmonica solo.  I think it's best for all parties if I never try to make this a reality.

What Springsteen songs do you wish you could play?