Bruce On The Loose Part 4
Ten Remarkable things about the Springsteen gig at the Moody Theater, Austin Texas, 15.03.12.
1. His guests include Jimmy Cliff, Eric Burdon, The Arcade Fire, The Low Anthem, Joe Ely, Tom Morello, Alejandro Escovedo and Garland Jeffreys. You might say it's a remarkable night.
2. It's the culmination of a long day of Bruce action at the SXSW festival, starting with the keynote speech. This was his love letter to rock and roll, and tonight's show is the practical expression of this. He delivers and he convinces.
3. Springsteen is fit as a butcher's dog. He is undimmed energy for two-and-a-half hours. He can still bounce and twist and fall on his knees like James Brown. The charisma rebounds off every corner of this lovely venue. The band is drilled, the brass section is on it and they call all respond to the moment.
4. We miss the dear, departed Clarence Clemons. Sure, Bruce has another sax player, but he's not into the fiber of the story, not iconic or adored. Every time a famous solo is due, your heart gives out. During the moment in 'Tenth Avenue Freeze Out' when the lyric mentions "the Big Man joined the band," the music cuts and the crowd applauds for several moments. The singer wills us to feel and to grieve and to remember.
5. He plays a bunch of tunes from the new record. Some fit perfectly with the aggrieved mood of the era. Others may still have to earn their keep.
6. I like 'Thunder Road'. We all like 'Thunder Road'. What an astonishing song. Never disappoints.
7. During the keynote speech, Bruce mentioned Eric Burdon from The Animals. A couple of tweets later and he discovers that Eric is in town. So they duet on 'We Gotta Get Out Of The Place'. Slightly embarrassing when they start in different keys, but it improves rapidly.
8. This is a revival show. Trying to pump our spirits with music, with sentiment and with messages. It's not political in a big way. Perhaps this isn't the time, maybe better to use stealth in the run-up to the US elections, or to look for a different key. But the tone is still strident, and we all sense it.
9. Jimmy Cliff singing 'Many Rivers To Cross'. Oh mercy.
10. The finale of 'This Land Is your Land'. Giving out for Woody Guthrie. All those faces on stage. Us singing along. Actually, we still believe in the promised land.