Mark Krajnak (JerseyStyle Photography) informed me that Clarence Clemons, the saxophonist from the E Street Band has passed away after suffering a massive stroke last week.
Hearing him perform Jungleland was one of the most soulful, memorable and emotional moments I’ve ever had a concert. I’m honored to have heard him play.
Rest in peace Big Man; the E Street Band won’t ever be the same without you.
Alejandro Escovedo is a nationally touring musician with a great band, and strong fan-base. He and his band have a ton of range playing everything from hard rocking punk to beautiful acoustic instrumentals.
If you require evidence of Escovedo’s excellence, Bruce Springsteen regularly hops on stage to play with him.
I’ve seen them live twice. It’s a powerful experience because they pack so much emotion into their performance. My favorite song of his is called Down in the Bowery, and it’s off his latest album Street Songs of Love.
I’m not sure who the violinist is, but she really adds to the song.
“I hope you live long enough to forget half the stuff they taught you.”
Seeing Bruce Springsteen live is an incredibly powerful experience that is tough to bottle and present on film.
This 30 minute set of Bruce & Co. performing songs from The Promise in Asbury Park captures a lot of that special something that the man brings to the sage.
(Image from the video)
Driving along the Garden State Parkway, windows down, and Bruce Stpringsteen’s classic album Born To Run blasting in the background, three thoughts come to mind:
- My car has nice pickup
- Bruce Springsteen is awesome
- I like New Jersey
I was born and raised in New York. If I got my hands on a time-machine, and traveled back to 1998 to tell adolescent me, “You’re going to live in New Jersey, and you’re going to enjoy it.” 1998 me would have burst out laughing, then returned to playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, on Nintendo 64 (because that’s how I rolled).
Part of growing up in New York, is laughing at Jersey… It’s not a big part, but it’s a fairly universal experience from what I’ve seen.
I also didn’t really like Bruce, or understand his music until I moved to New Jersey.
I fell in love with Bruce’s music when I was working long days; going to school for my masters in the evenings; writing this blog at night; and struggling to find a girl with whom I could have a meaningful relationship. It was a lot, and it was taking a toll on me.
One night I listened to Born To Run, and Darkness on the Edge of Town in their entirety, while working on a paper, and something had changed. The music actually made sense to me, and I related to it, and not just those two albums… From that point on, I heard all of his music differently, but I couldn’t put into words. I tried, but even my most eloquent writing seemed to fall short of what I was feeling.
A few months ago, Jon Stewart introduced Bruce at the Kennedy Center Awards, and he hit the nail on the head. He explained Bruce perfectly:
A couple of weeks ago I took a trip to Chicago. When I landed back in New Jersey, I got into my car, turned it on, and Thunder Road boomed out of the speakers. I thought to myself, “I really like it in Jersey.”
Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine played The Ghost of Tom Joad with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band at a 2009 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concert.
The show had a lot of great moments, and couple pretty poor ones (I’m looking at you U2… Seriously they are incapable of playing other people’s songs).
Tom & Bruce’s performance was incredible. The vocals are great, the band is always spot-on, and the both Bruce and Tom’s guitar solos are fierce and passionate.
Make sure you crank up the volume.
I’m still amazed that Morello’s style mixes so well with the E Street Band. I wouldn’t have thought to pair the two on stage together.
It’s been a busy few days since I saw Bon Jovi open the New Meadowlands Stadium on Wednesday night. It was pretty neat being at both the first show that Bruce Springsteen did to close the old Giant Stadium, and Bon Jovi’s opening performed for the new arena.
The New Meadowlands Stadium
Big & Confusing
The Stadium is really big, and the layout felt pretty awkward. We couldn’t figure out how to get to our seats because the 200 level wasn’t completely connected (and probably all of the other levels, but I’m not sure). This was further complicated by the fact that the Stadium’s staff was new and almost as clueless as we were. When we finally found section 224, it turned out that there was a 224A and a 224B with overlapping seat numbers, adding a bit more confusion to the frustrating process.
On the bright-side, the long journey to find section 224B gave me a great view of the partially demolished Giant Stadium.
Large arenas don’t usually have the best acoustics, and the New Meadowlands Stadium is no exception. I’m sure things sounded good down on the field, but up in the 200s, the sound quality was horrendous.
The bass was muddy, the mids were non-existent, and the treble was shrill and completely dominated the mix.
I did not like the first half, and I really enjoyed the second.
The sound quality was terrible.
I don’t like Bon Jovi’s latest album, The Circle or the song Bad Medicine, and most of the first half was that material.
It felt like they were playing Bad Medicine for an eternity. They just kept going back to it. I have no idea why, but it was very annoying, and felt like a punishment.
The high point of the first half came about a month into Bad Medicine when they played a couple verses from The Doors Roadhouse Blues. That rocked… but then they went back to Bad Medicine, and I was sad again.
Finally, the cherry on this sundae was the first half was when PA system completely cut out in the middle of Runaway. The New Jersey audience got angry as quickly as you would expect. The band looked pretty ticked-off as well. Fortunately they were cool and played it off, instead of pulling a Frampton.
Remember that poor sound quality? Well, by the second hour of the show my hearing had been sufficiently destroyed. Once I got past the ringing, everything sounded alright.
They also switched to more material from Have a Nice Day & the 80s, which I truly enjoyed.
Livin’ On a Prayer, rocked. During the chorus, every screen in the arena lit up with YouTube clips of fans singing the legendary song (that really appealed to this geek). The overpowering boom of the whole audience belting out the lyrics was really cool as well.
All-in-all, it was a fun night. I am happy I saw Bon Jovi, but I don’t think I would go again.
New Jersey Music Checklist:
- Bruce Springsteen
- Bon Jovi
- Southside Johnny & The Asbury Juke in Asbury Park (Stone Pony, July 2, 2010)
- See Bruce again
If you bought tickets to one of the other four Bruce Springsteen shows to shut down Giant Stadium, I’m sorry. It’s gone. The building was torn down last night, and you should have been there.
Seriously, that was an epic three hour and 15 minute performance; they never stopped playing. Even at the end of the set, the band lined up, took a bow, talked something over for a few seconds, and then Bruce yelled, “It’s too cold to stop playing!” and jumped back into a long seven song encore. Where does he get the energy to run, jump, sing, and play like that? Apparently 60 is the new 16; he has the energy of a teenager.
His stage presence is completely unrivaled by any other performer I have ever seen. He really knows how to play to his audience, and we love him for it (As opposed to that unprofessional jerk, Peter Frampton).
Six songs in, they played Hungary Heart (Am I the only person who always forgets that he wrote that song?). During the song he ran down the stage and started jumping into the crowd. After his first leap about 75 feet to my right, I pulled out my Flip cam and powered it up, just in case he jumped in near me (I was standing up at he front of the floor section). It turned out that his next stop was directly in front of me, and I captured the whole thing!
I know it’s shaky, but the way the crowd was pushing, I was delighted that I kept the Boss in frame the whole time. I even got to pat him on the back (envy me baby boomer women… I never realized he was such a big sex symbol among 50+ women).
There’s so much to talk about that I will not be able to cover the whole show…
He opened with a song he wrote special for the Giant Stadium shows. It was called Wrecking Ball… want to guess what it was about? It was a fun start to the evening.
I really enjoyed hearing Working on a Dream, it’s been a bit of a personal theme song for this past year (finishing grad school, finding a new job, you get the point).
The performance of the album Born to Run in its entirety was exceptional from start to finish. During the song Born to Run, the crowd which already had a party-like atmosphere, went completely insane; it was quite a sight. However, the musical highpoint for me was Jungleland.
Jungleland was never a favorite of mine, but something about the piano, Bruce’s voice, Little Steven’s killer solo in the middle, and especially Clarence Clemons gorgeous solo sax work made my night. The song made me weepy, and I’m not ashamed to say so; it was a beautiful performance.
He followed that up with a series of songs from The Rising. That album was what originally sparked my interest in Bruce, so it was nice hearing them. Lonesome Day was retooled a bit, and I was ambivalent about the altered version, but it could have been a me resisting change on a song I love.
The high points of the encore for me were Growing Up (I’m a sucker for stage banter, and this had some “grade A” banter) & the Irish rockish American Land (That was foot-stomping good).
The whole set list (and all of Bruce’s set lists are up on his website)
I could go on and on, but it seems unnecessary. The show rocked.
If you are going to one of the other Bruce shows at Giant Stadium over the next week, here are some tips:
- The field level/ general admission entrance is Gate B.
- If you have field level/ general admission tickets, get there early to get up close. You won’t regret the time investment.
- Ladies, don’t bother with the cute, uncomfortable shoes, as you will regret wearing them (Even the people with seats were standing the whole time).
- It got quite cold. Wear layers.