Saturday, March 19, 2016

Concert Review: 3/17/2016, Los Angeles Sports Arena

Two years ago, Mama Toohey made her blogging debut with this ebullient review of Springsteen's Nashville concert.  Now, she's in Los Angeles, taking in Bruce on his latest tour.  Let's see what she thought!

I know a pretty little place in Southern California where a Jerseyan can get Bruce tickets....

I had to travel to the west coast to catch the River tour since the Jersey and New York tickets magically disappeared in 20 seconds (Editor's Note: One of the Legends of Springsteen writers did manage to get to the show in New Jersey - check out his review when you are done with this one!)

But it was well worth the plane ticket.  Bruce did not disappoint.  But, let me back up and set the stage.  When I was bragging to the clerk at a Los Angeles Starbucks that I was seeing Bruce, she just looked at me with a vague stare!  Then I said "Springsteen", and understanding came into her eyes.  Alas, Jerseyans pump their own gas and know who exactly who "Bruce" is.

Back to the concert review: It rates in my top three of all time.  Bruce has more energy than possible!  I will admit that The River is not my favorite album - I am a classic Born To Run fan. But, when Bruce crowd-surfed to "Hungry Heart", I was sold.

Throughout the show, Bruce shared his thoughts behind the development of The River album, discussing about his time of maturity, his emotional connection, and creating a fun and live flow.

Some of The River brings a quiet introspection to the crowd, but when he closed the album and burst into "Badland, the arena went wild.  Out came the hits: "The Promised Land", "Rosalita", and, yes, "Born To Run".

Our group also included a Bruce virgin.  Our friend Mallory, a Texas country music fan, was seeing Bruce for the first time.  "Hungry Heart" was her favorite, as was "Shout", which closed the concert.

All-in-all, I am ready for the next show.  See you in April when Bruce returns to New York!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

E Street Spotlight - Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg

Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg share a special place in Springsteen folklore.  While they were absent from the first two Bruce records, they joined the team in 1974, and helped launch Bruce Springsteen into super-stardom.  Bittan's elegant piano work and Weinberg's powerful drums gave Born To Run the grand, cinematic sound that was absent in Bruce's earlier work.  With these two new additions, the band was fully complete, catapulting Springsteen on 10-year-run straight to being a household name.

Parallel to Bruce's rise, Bittan and Weinberg continued as session musicians, adding their input to iconic acts of the late 70s and early 80s.

Many music fans have dubbed Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell as an "unofficial" E Street album.  Bittan and Weinberg contributed on three songs: "Bat Out Of Hell", "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)", and "Paradise By The Dashboard Light".  Even Steven Van Zandt was involved in getting the record produced.  Bittan and Weinberg would also contribute to Meat Loaf's follow-up album Dead Ringer.  

In 1983, Bittan and Weinberg scored something Bruce never accomplished: a number one song!  I'm sure everyone is familiar with the iconic Bonnie Tyler song "Total Eclipse of the Heart", but did you know that it was two E Streeters providing the dramatic piano and booming drums?  Not only were Bittan and Weinberg at number one on the charts, but they are also at number two with their contributions to Air Supply's "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All".  With Born In The U.S.A. the year after, you'd be hard pressed to find a two-year hit streak like that.

Roy and Max have contributed to dozens of artists throughout their careers (Max with Carole King, Roy with David Bowie, etc.).  It's an impressive list, and researching it took me down a crazy rabbit hole of the E Street Band's extra-curricular work.  But for today, let's raise a glass to Max and Roy for their roles in creating some of the most bombastic sweeping epics of the late 70s and early 80s!

What are you other favorite examples of non-Bruce E Street work?  Are there any others you'd like us to spotlight in the future?  Let us know in the comments!