Archive for the ‘concert’ Category

Bruce Springsteen at The Verizon Center; Nov. 11, 2007

November 15, 2007

This marked the sixth time I’ve seen Bruce in concert (over a span of 25 years), but it was a special occasion. I was bringing my son B. (age 17) to his first Bruce show (also on the team was brother R, brother-in-law C, and a couple friends).

I consider this the fulfillment of a parental obligation. B. is seriously into hip-hop, and not to sound like a middle age white guy, but…I can’t stand the shit. Okay, there are a few hip-hop tunes here and there I can appreciate, but for the most part, it’s music devoid of harmony, melody, soul, morals, truth and beauty. I feel it’s important to expose B. to music that is honest, passionate and empathetic. Music like Bruce’s.

The show opened with “Radio Nowhere” from the new album, “Magic.” As is his wont, Bruce played a lot of songs from the new album. I wasn’t terribly familiar with the album going in, but there are a few songs in there I suspect will grow on me, especially “Radio Nowhere” and “Girls In Their Summer Clothes.”

The highlights of the night were powerful renditions of “No Surrender,” “She’s The One,” “Promised Land,” “The Rising,” and, of course, “Born To Run.”

Bruce kept the commentary to a minimum, getting political only when introducing “Living In The Future,” when he spoke about the erosion of civil liberties and assaults on the Constitution we’ve had to endure over the last six years. His songs “The Last To Die,” and “Long Walk Home” are such overt anti-war statements, they need no introduction or explanation. They make their points just fine all on their own, thank you.

Our “seats” were general admission on the floor, and we ended up about 100 feet away from the stage, slightly to the left, directly in line with the Big Man, Clarence Clemmons. In other words, great seats. When seeing a rock band, I much prefer standing in the middle of an enthusiastic crowd to sitting in a seat. It’s the difference between being a participant and a spectator.

The show closed with an uptempo, Irish-style, jig-like number, called (I think), “The American Way.” Because it’s a new song, Bruce had the lyrics scroll across the giant screens while he was singing. I’m not sure, but somewhere in there, I thought I caught a criticism of this country’s current immigration policies. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

After the band left the stage, and the arena was still dark, people held up their open cell phones, electronically recreating the classic concert effect of a sea of lighters. Kinda cool–in a cold, technological, non-organic sort of way.

As always, the show was a flawless celebration of energy. B. seemed to enjoy it, even though he didn’t know many of the songs. The band was tight and professional. It moved seamlessly from song to song with full confidence and determination. Bruce is a renowned perfectionist, and it shows. He also puts 100% of himself into every show, and this one was no different. He holds nothing back, and by the end of the night, he’s spent, you’re spent, and you ride the adrenaline and echoes in your head back to reality. He still puts on the best show in all of rock. Period.

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Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers at The Mercury Lounge; Nov. 8, 2007

November 10, 2007

By the time I moved to the East Village in 1982, the punk rock scene was gasping its final breaths. I was able to catch the occasional slamdance at the A7 Club, but for the most part, punk was a goner. Last night, however, I got a nostalgic whiff of those days of high-volume, low-technique thunder music by seeing Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers at Th’ Mercury Lounge.

For over an hour, the quartet slashed through one psychopunkabilly blues song after another. Leading the motley foursome is J.D., a wiry sociopath who would launch the occasional mucus missile into the crowd, then stand, chin out, begging for retaliation. Imagine a Sid Vicious from Kentucky. J.D. also “sang” and played a manic blues harmonica. He thrashed about the stage with an unpredictability that defied you to look away-even for a second. He was shirtless and sweating rivers before the end of the third song.

The guitar player, stationed to J.D.’s right, looked like a love child of Cosmo Kramer and Abraham Lincoln whose formula had been spiked with crystal meth. He wore a white wife-beater, which barely covered his thoroughly tattooed chest. He never said anything during the show, but banged out his licks with reckless fury.

The bass player looked like a high-school linebacker ten years after his prime. He slapped his stand-up, “shit house” bass without mercy or reprieve. The drummer was equally aggressive, and soaked by the end of the show, thanks to the occasional dousing with water J.D would give his snare. The band was strong and tight, but the undeniable star of the Shack Shakers was the monkey in the middle.

J.D. skirted about the stage like a rabid minstrel. He sneered, he taunted, he would sing through the harp mic, sometimes even putting it to the side of his throat, delivering his vocals like an emphysema patient. On the few occasions when he spoke to the crowd, his southern roots came shining through. He preached with the persuasive eloquence of a twisted televangelist.

By the time my friend Bill and I hit Houston Street, we were exhausted. We had had our shacks shaken by th’ (I have no idea what the abbreviation is all about) professionals. I don’t think this band will ever make it big–it’s very difficult to imagine them bringing their brand of intensity to a large venue–but damn, they were fun.