Springsteen is still Magic

October 17th, 2007

Never mind the politics that Greg Quill of the Toronto Star thinks the Springsteen concert was about. Yes, he ranted about “what’s happening in America now – rendition, illegal wiretapping, the abuse of civil rights.” Yes, he commented that title song of his new CD, Magic, is “… not about magic, it’s about tricks.” But what Quill didn’t tell you is that all this politics took maybe, MAYBE, two minutes out of a two and a half hour concert. Nor do they mention a lusty round of boos that went through he crowd while Bruce was pontificating, southern preacher style, on the evils of what is occurring in his home country: whether those boos were agreement, or dissension I can’t say.

But one thing I can speak about to the Star. When we sat during the new songs, it was not “a form of worship or meditation” it was in anticipation of a song we wanted to hear. And that was the night’s problem. Far too many lulls, far too much time sitting out the bathroom break songs, not nearly enough Rosalita/Thunder Road/anything from the River &tc.

None of the above which is intended to suggest it wasn’t a good show: Springsteen on a bad night is still better than most, and it wasn’t a bad night. What Bruce Springsteen does well is give a high energy rock and roll show with the religious ferver of a southern Baptist tent revival. Rock and Roll is Springsteen religion, and he delivered his sermon as well last night as at any other time (OK, it’s not 1978, this I understand). What the above suggests that this early into the Magic tour there is still some issues with pacing in this show. Nothing the injection of Ramrod, Hungry Heart, Jungleland and Rosalita wont fix (if your asking Bruce, at the expense of Lost in the Flood, Gypsy Rider and Town Called Heartbreak.

There were also highlights a plenty, beginning with the opener, the new single Radio Nowhere, which works very well live, and ending with the closing number American Land, with the entire band, save drummer Max Weinberg at front of stage, two accordions, two acoustic guitars, violin, tin whistle and mandolin playing a lively Celtic piece that, while unfamiliar, worked very well. In between there was Reason To Believe, Candy’s Room, She’s The One, Living In The Future and a rollicking version of Darlington County that featured Soozie Tyrell and Clarence Clemons back and forthing on sax and violin on a rocking solo segment. I have never heard a violin played like that, and it was great.

It’s early yet in the tour, and I’m willing to bet that if Springsteen comes around next year, it will be an incredible show. But this one was still a very good, and nobody went home unhappy, just wishing for a little more familiarity and high tempo, a little less politics.

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