Nobody really hates Bruce Springsteen anymore. Even those ill informed rock fans like me, to be perfectly honest, have to admit he has created a catalogue of amazing and endearing music with some noted theatrics as well. And what he is doing now at the ‘advanced age’ of 65 is quite remarkable. Labels be damned and poor boy from Jersey irony lost, Springsteen is an American treasure- and this from a guy that really can’t stand him.
To prove my point I just Googled Bruce Springsteen and here is what came up from the Wall Street Journal, “Did the Boss Help Bring Down the Wall?” and from the Star Ledger “Springsteen plays best show ever in Europe.” Stories abound about the songwriter who has been performing for 50 years. Case in point is the American icon’s current tour of Europe. It’s sounds like such an epic run, that they soon will write books about it.
Springsteen has been touring relatively small European cities generating intense enthusiasm and spontaneous audience responses that is making even hardcore fans turn their heads. Springsteen groupies are readily admitting he is on a different plane these days. Large sections of his show each night are improvised based on the audience suggestions on handmade posters. For example, according to the Chicago Tribune, at a recent concert, the Boss crowd surfed (remember he is in his mid-sixties) to a fan that held a poster asking the E Street Band to play an obscure Chuck Berry number. Springsteen provoked his band by humming and randomly recalling the melody in addition to the chord changes before leading them into an apparent blistering rendition that even purists found engaging.
The Springsteen website described it as “a fascinating moment, with Bruce and the band actually arranging the song in front of thousands of people. Bruce sought the right key by increasing pitch step-by-step, Steve (Van Zandt) shaking his head in disapproval each time until they were satisfied that it felt right. Then the brass section had to be taught how to play the song, and Bruce sang them their line, encouraging the crowd to join in and repeat it a few times so that the horns could get accommodated to a song that they had never played before.”
Springsteen and his Clarence Clemons-less band are three quarters of the way through a massive 2-year 130-stop tour, the likes of which few have experienced. With shows that run over 180 minutes a night, Springsteen is shaking towns to their foundation and leaving memories and a legacy few could imagine anyone filling or exceeding in the future. The Boss does more shows in a month then the Beatles did, ever.
And the response is astounding. This past week he performed in a town of Leipzig, Germany- population of a little over 400,000. The number of attendees at his show exceeded 45,000. By comparison if the same percentage of population showed up for a show in Denver, the attendance would be 290,000.
I have never seen one of his shows in person and I regret it. I am now officially putting it on my bucket list. I am a bit concerned that the sexagenarian will be settling down soon but then I read his comment from his website. Bruce told the crowd that they’ve been on the road for two years now, but there is no end in sight: “We are just startin’ to get good!” I can’t wait to see the best of the Boss.