Monday, 17 February 2014

An audience with the Boss - Bruce Springsteen plays Melbourne.

Bruce Springsteen has long been one of my favourite songwriters. Ever since my grade eleven English teacher encouraged us to analyse lyrics, as well as poetry, for one of our assignments. I remember studying "Scarecrow" by John Mellencamp, "Four Walls" by Cold Chisel and "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen.  So when the opportunity to see him live came up, I seized it with both hands.

I remember that he played at Lang Park in Brisbane after the "Born in the USA" album was released. I was at boarding school in Toowoomba, so the feasibility of going to a mid week gig in another city was zero. Bruce has been to Australia many times since then, but it has never really worked out.

The crowd gathers inside AAMI Park.
© 2014 divacultura
I've heard people rave about him in live performance, but you have to be one of the tiny people in a huge stadium crowd to fully appreciate the extent of his artistry in performance. There was not a single moment when I felt taken for granted or that he was bored or not enjoying fully, his work.

The wonderful Dan Sultan kicked off the show at 5pm. I love Dan's music, but his smaller band and sound really suffered in the sound mix designed for the fat, saturated sound of Bruce and the E Street Band. The bass guitar was distorting and dominant over all the other sounds. Still, it's great exposure for him.

Hunters and Collectors re-formed to play this gig and it was great to hear them play their hits. It's been a while since I've seen a rock band with a french horn in the line up - if ever - so that was also a treat.

The Boss came on at 8pm and was on stage until about 11:45pm. No one could complain that they didn't receive value for money! I debated with my friend about what the first song would be and suddenly it was 1985 again as the instantly recognisable opening bars of "Born in the USA" hit us. It was on! Apart from every song, the absolute highlight was hearing that they were going to play the whole "Born to Run" album from start to finish! I was in heaven! Hearing this album (released in 1975) as a whole body, was an interesting opportunity to consider Bruce Springsteen's evolution as a writer. The perspective in 1975 was much more individual with stories about people from a personal level, while his more recent songs take a broader political perspective - they're still about people, but it's a broader perspective.

I had an emotional night. Joy was my main feeling, but I had a few tearful moments too. (The story leading into "Growin' Up" and the song itself were deeply affecting.) I think I was overwhelmed. Suddenly I understood all those pictures of girls crying at Beatles or Elvis Presley concerts. It can just happen when you're feeling open  and receptive to the music.

While I was well out of reach to have any direct interaction, it was lovely to watch the crowd interactions. Those big screens and fabulous directors of photography did a wonderful job, capturing a huge event with a sense of intimacy.

I looked around the crowd and noticed how different we all seemed, yet here we all were, celebrating and united by music created by a great artist.  If you're vaguely interested in music, writing or performance (he's a master of creating tension and holding a crowd) and have never seen Bruce Springsteen live, put it on your list!

I kept notes of the set list and include it here (if there are any errors, please let me know):
  1. Lucky Town 
  2. Death to My Hometown 
  3. High Hopes 
  4. Born to Run
  5. Ain't I good enough for you

  6. Encore
  7. This Hard Land (just Bruce, his guitar and harmonica)

Did you go? Have you seen The Boss before? What did you think?

1 comment:

  1. I remember the class scoffing when we were first given a Springsteen song to work on. Ah the memories. My brother was a fan and owned all the albums. Cunning music.