Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

11 things I learned this weekend from three nights of Bruce

(1) I don’t think I’ve ever been at live shows in Ireland where the audience spanned every possible generation as much as they did over the last three nights in the RDS. From the gentleman who was proudly attending his …

Mon, May 26, 2008, 08:58


(1) I don’t think I’ve ever been at live shows in Ireland where the audience spanned every possible generation as much as they did over the last three nights in the RDS. From the gentleman who was proudly attending his 77th Bruce Springsteen show to the 18 year old kids singing along to every single word of “The Promised Land”, this was a show for all the family.

(2) It was Friday night fever for me. Yes, I thought Thursday’s gig was fantastic (that version of “Thunder Road” was breathtaking) and Sunday’s show was epic (especially the encore which began with “Tenth Avenue Freezeout” and had “Ramrod” and “Glory Days” coming after usual show closer “American Land”, as if the band wanted the night to go on forever), but there was something about how the band rocked, how the sound was so punchy, how the set-list ran and how Bruce was on fire which made Friday the pick of the weekend. Maybe it was pay-day for the E Street Band – as well as for some of the working stiffs in the audience – and that explained the euphoria.

(3) People now like to throw their kids at Bruce. For some reason, parents feel happy to lob their kids at Bruce in the hope that he will either kiss them or dance with them, as if he was running for public office. There was nearly a stampede in the pit every time Bruce appeared at either end of the runway as parents flung their kids at him, even though he now sometimes resembles Max Cady close-up. Sorry Bruce.

(4) After Friday’s show, the E Street Band took over a bowling alley in Stillorgan for the night. True story.

(5) There was a terrible rumour doing the rounds that Bono was going to do a guest turn on one of the nights. Thank our lucky stars that one turned out to be false. By the way, Southside Johnny, who turned up to share a mic on the first night, really is the dead spit of Steve Earle.

(6) This really is how bands should do big open-air shows. No need for elaborate stage-sets, no point bothering with pyrotechnics, no call for choreographed dancing: all you need as a red-hot band, a singer giving his all and a set of fantastic songs that you really need two and a half hours to get through. I suppose the problem is that most acts don’t really have those three crucial elements.

(7) After just a couple of months, “Livin’ In The Future” has already become a classic and not just because of its generous quota of “sha na na” moments. In fact, a lot of the new songs are bedding down well

(8) The one dull spot of the whole weekend? That would be the truly terrible RTE TV documentary on Bruce which they aired (naturally) at silly o’clock on Friday night. While the interviews with Springsteen, done by pol corr David McCullough, were grand and dandy, the programme seemed to have been edited together by a couple of work experience numpties and looked shoddy, cheap and disjointed. But, hey, do we really expect anything else from RTE when it comes to music? They’ve become the station who prefer to put their time, money and effort into trying to hype a stupid glove puppet.

(9) Watching Springsteen and co for three nights was a life-affirming joy. For all the shows and bands that I get to see and hear week in and week out, nothing beats watching these masters at work. I’m not really a fan of these big outdoor extravaganzas – give me a new band in a small room and I’m far happier – but Springsteen made the vast expanses of the RDS seem like a sweaty, loud room.

(10) Bruce’s pole-dancing showed that perhaps Little Stevie was not the only one hanging out at the Bada Bing these last few years.

(11) Anyone know if there are tickets left for the last European show in Barcelona’s Camp Nou on July 20?

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