bruuuce at the mci center
if you want to read about my thoughts on the bruce show, then you've come to the right place. if not, then move along. there's nothing for you to see here ;-)
i could really get used to being a rich person, if only i had a money tree in my backyard. sadly, i don't, so i will have to relish the fact that my husband decided to splurge and get $500 tix for charity. the tix entitled us to dinner and seats at the club-level Acela restaurant at the MCI Center in DC. there is something incredibly surreal about seeing bruce while at a sit-down restaurant. i mean, the seats were awesome (behind the stage, but you can see a whole lot from that vantage point that you don't see otherwise, and everyone in the band at some point plays to those of us in the “behind” seats), but i kept wondering whether we had gone out to dinner and then we were going to see a lounge act next. there were certainly enough graying heads in the arena to suggest that possibility.
well, fear not. no lounge act in site. just bruce and the e streeters, taking the stage around 8 pm and playing til about 10:45, give or take. to be sure, it ain't bruce from days of yore, where he played for hours and hours on end. the man is in his 50s; he's a dad; things change. nevertheless, where his shows once seemed spontaneous, they are now calculated and planned to the nth degree. he no longer tells his rambly stories; and even in the 1999 tour, the church sermon was repeated, verbatim, every time we saw the show.
thus, it was little surprise that the set list from the CAA (or, to those of us from Jersey, the meadowlands arena) was nearly the same setlist for last night's show at the MCI Center, with the possible addition of “bobbie jean.” of all the songs he could pick from his vast repertoire, this was a puzzlement, as it is not a standout cut. perhaps it was selected to stick to the theme du jour: loss and redemption; and that theme sadly resonates with people in DC as much as it does with people from the NY metro area. cuts from the new album, “the rising” were front and center at the show, and at times, bruce looked surprised when the crowd already knew the words to many of the songs. (of course, when you are featured on “the today show” and your album debuts at #1, then somebody must be out there, singing your songs.) moving moments included “the fuse” and “empty sky.” “the fuse” is a personal standout — the guitar work was incendiary. bruce nearly had the entire arena quiet for those wrenching songs. (he asked for quiet, and of course, there are always a few bozos who decide to shriek “YEEEEAAAAH” despite his request. i wish you could lobotomize people like that.) if it were any other artist, it would only be a matter of moments before “the rising” would be rented to Verizon for commercials (am i the only one who can hear it — “come on up with Verizon!”
of the non-”rising” cuts, “thunder road” was completely phlegmatic and without any discernable joy. perhaps bruce is sick to death of playing that magnificent chestnut. “born in the usa” had its old arrangement back, much to my chagrin. i think the sparse arrangement from the '99 tour brought some meaning back to the song; now, it is back to its original reagan era sound. frankly, i get sick to death of seeing people at bruce shows who, nearly 20 years on, still do not understand the meaning of the lyrics and lurch forward in their “lee-greenwood-type-g-d-bless-the-usa” fervor. but hey, that's just me. “badlands” and “born to run” clearly had the crowd remembering an old bruce – mr party guy, mr “lost on route 88.” at one point in the show, bruce was imploring the crowd — “do you wanna have a house party?” but this show was not really about having a party — it was really an emotional walk through some territory where the mud is still fresh. new songs illuminated; old songs comforted.