Tag Archives: Bruce Springsteen

Bruce shakes Cape Town again!

30 Jan

bruce_28 january 2014_liryn de jager (11)

(More pictures at https://www.facebook.com/liryn/media_set?set=a.10203022060493971.1073741829.1278650619&type=1)

Whatever was in the air on Sunday night in Cape Town, was in the water barely two days later on Tuesday night as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band reached the halfway mark of their first South African tour.

With the Belville Velodrome busting at the seams and a “Hello South Africa!” Springsteen set the tone for another three+ hour marathon session that afterwards were described by fans (who have racked up 100+ shows) as right there at the top.

Free Nelson Mandela dutifully kicked off proceedings again but it was quickly evident that this one was going to be way different than the first one. Right off the bat Springsteen hauled a host of signs up onto the stage, something which he didn’t touch on Sunday. No Surrender was first up, followed by Two Hearts and The Ties That Bind.

Kicking the signs down that he propped up against the mic stand, Springsteen launched into High Hopes, trading clicks with Tom Morello. For the rest of the evening, Morello took a bit of a back seat though with no Ghost of Tom Joad on the set list. Little Stevie van Zandt seemed to have shaken the jet-lag and was more prominent parading the front of the stage, edging the crowd on.

Then the show kicked into a gear that doesn’t exist on any gearbox and took the revellers on a wild, wild ride. Trapped was followed by a rousing and utterly bone-chillingly Prove it all Night (‘78 version) and I had only one thought: “How the hell was I going to be able to stand this for a couple more hours and for two more nights???” There was no choice but to hang on for dear life and with the believe that if they can do it, so can I! Darkness On The Edge Of Town closed out this little mini-set.

Springsteen’s silly side came out in a big way in his now traditional (if you may) introduction into Spirit In The Night. “The E Street Band is glad to be in your beautiful city tonight. We came thousands of miles over shark infested waters… The water is cold out there, man, I haven’t seen my balls in a day and a half!” He then leaned back into the crowd in the pit and surfed all the way back to the stage.

Heaven’s Wall, Just Like Fire Would and American Skin (41 Shots) was Springsteen’s nod to the High Hopes album. Gulping down some green power juice and seeking relief from a big yellow sponge, the harmonica was picked up and the crowd went into overdrive when Promised Land made its South African debut.

The nimble fingers of The Professor (Roy Bittan) danced as Open All Night added a special flavour to the night. The honky-tonking made Springsteen thirsty “I need a drink”, within seconds he was downing some local brew and with a “Thank you, darling” and “Give the people some beer, they need to get off their asses!” he was on his merry way again.

The vibe inside the Velodrome last night was worlds away from Sunday. It was a different planet, with new inhabitants but with the same rulers of the “majesty, the mystery and the ministry of rock ‘n roll”. Yes, it is just music, but also yes, last night it was all and everything that there was and it made time stop.

The moves were brought out, the kid got on stage and hands were raised for Shackled And Drawn, Waitin’ On A Sunny Day, Lonesome Day, The Rising and Badlands.

With We Shall Overcome, Springsteen paid homage to folk legend Pete Seeger (who passed away yesterday, aged 94) in the only way he knows how, by speaking straight from the heart. “We lost a great friend… He was 94 years old, which is good news for me… This one is for Pete Seeger and for Nelson Mandela… We understand these lyrics so fucking well… We wish you a beautiful future, South Africa.”

After the little idle, the engine was revved up again with classic staples Born In The USA, Born To Run and Bobby Jean. The shirt came off, on top of the piano, off the piano, the boys gave some noise and a night that can only be described as you-had-to-be-there-to-believe-it was closed out with Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, This Little Light Of Mine and an acoustic This Hard Land.

“Thank you for being here with us tonight. Thank you for a great night. We are going to do it all over again, but different.”

There’s life before Bruce Springsteen. Then there’s the after-life. Then there’s the morning after the night before. Then there’s Tuesday night, 28 January 2014.

Set list: 28 January 2014 – Belville Velodrome, Cape Town  

1. Free Nelson Mandela

2. No Surrender

3. Two Hearts

4. The Ties That Bind

5. High Hopes

6. Trapped

7. Prove it all Night (78 version)

8. Darkness on the Edge of Town

9. Spirit in the Night

10. Heaven’s Wall

11. Just Like Fire Would

12.  American Skin (41 Shots)

13. Promised Land

14. Open All Night

15. Shackled and Drawn

16. Waitin’ On A Sunny Day

17. Lonesome Day

18. The Rising

19. Badlands

20. We Shall Overcome

21. Born In The USA

22. Born To Run

23. Bobby Jean

24. Dancing In The Dark

25. Tenth Avenue Freeze Out

26. This Little Light of Mine

27. This Hard Land (Acoustic)

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The Boss rocks Cape Town!

28 Jan

bruce_26 jan 2014 (1)

(More pictures at http://www.facebook.com/liryn/media_set?set=a.10203004132165774.1073741828.1278650619&type=1)

 

Nobody knew what to expect of the first ever concert for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on South African soil. There was much speculation beforehand about the set list to an audience (bar those who’ve travelled the globe) who has never seen the man played live. Also, would the local fans understand and appreciate the queuing system for the much coveted pit armbands?

In the end, this was it for night one of three in Cape Town – 27 songs in just a tad over three hours, all delivered in classic Springsteen style, with heart and soul laid bare on the floor. And the fans did fall into line, eagerly and orderly, to get that prized spot right in the front, and within sweat-dripping distance of The Boss.

From the outset, it was clear that there was something special in the air on this particular night. Maybe it was the anticipation of having waited for so long to see this band of merry music makers and the man in the centre of it all, who knows, there was just something… With the band appearing on stage and finally Springsteen himself, the revellers in the Belville Velodrome (with a lot of his fellow countrymen and woman as well as Europeans making the trek across the ocean) were on their feet.

For obvious reasons, there couldn’t have been another song for that first slot. The whole band lined up at the front of the stage for Free Nelson Mandela with Springsteen shouting “Good evening Cape Town! It’s so good to finally be in your beautiful country.”

It didn’t take long for him to make that physical and magnetic connection with the crowd. Springsteen’s first walkabout came during Out in the Street when he bent down and touched the outstretched hands of those lucky ones with the pink armbands in front. From there on end, he made regular excursions around the pit and towards the back and side of the venue. Although it did take a bit of coaxing to get everyone to pull together for some crowd-surfing during Hungry Heart.

This was also the green light to “Let’s play the hits, boys!” And it included a very soulful The River (after which he handed the harmonica down to one of the doting devotees in the front crowd), Pay Me My Money Down (with Cindy Mizelle and Michelle Moore twirling colourful umbrellas) and an electrifying and piercing The Ghost Of Tom Joad with the manic hands of Tom Morello doing their thing. Nils Lofgren wasn’t to be outshone though with his spin (literally) on Because The Night.

During Darling County Springsteen went on another walkabout, was handed a beer which he dutifully slugged back and quipped “I think there’s beer in my ear!” And then Waitin’ On A Sunny Day also had to have some crowd prodding involved when he said “This song is so easy even an Italian kid can sing it”. The youngster that did end op sharing the mic with him, didn’t do too bad of a job with Springsteen eventually hoisting him up onto his shoulders.

We are alive was dedicated to the memory of Nelson Mandela with Springsteen saying “We are humble to be here tonight in the land of Nelson Mandela… This is a lovely circle for us, to finally be able to come here.”

And then, as expected, came Born In The USA, Born To Run and Dancing In The Dark in quick succession.

Springsteen closed out his first ever South African concert with an acoustic Thunder Road. He preluded it with a heartfelt message “Thank you for making us feel at home, you’ve been so lovely towards us. Thank you. This is going to be a permanent stop from here on end.”

Although it was a special night, especially for the long waiting fans at the southern tip of Africa, it was also a safe night for those that has been witness to the “everlasting and ass-kicking power of rock ‘n roll” before. Maybe he was testing the waters, seeing if he can push it a little more on nights two and three in Cape Town and night four in Johannesburg. One thing is for sure, though, no two Springsteen set lists are the same. This will be no exception.

 

Set list: 26 January 2014 – Belville Velodrome, Cape Town

1.     Free Nelson Mandela

2.     Badlands

3.     Death To My Hometown

4.     Out In The Street

5.     High Hopes

6.     Spirit In The Night

7.     Hungry Heart

8.     The River

9.     Heaven’s Wall

10.  Atlantic City

11.  Johnny 99

12.  Pay Me My Money Down

13.  American Skin (41 Shots)

14.  Because The Night

15.  Darlington County

16.  Shackled And Drawn

17.  Waitin’ On A Sunny Day

18.  The Rising

19.  The Ghost Of Tom Joad

20.  Land Of Hope And Dreams

21.  We Are Alive

22.  Born In The USA

23.  Born To Run

24.  Dancing In The Dark

25.  Tenth Avenue Freeze Out

26.  Shout

27. Thunder Road (Acoustic)

 

Don’t worry, it’s rock ‘n roll

19 Jan

bruce springsteen (7)_19 jan

It’s the highs and lows, the ups and downs, the light and darkness, the sounds and the silence, it’s the all and the nothing. And it is everything in between.

On the eve of yet another world tour with the legendary E Street Band and just after the release of his 18th studio album, High Hopes, this certainly rings true for Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen. It has ever since The Boss saw The King Elvis Presley on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956 and “realized a white man could make magic”.

As he said in his keynote address at the South by Southwest Music Festival in 2012 in Austin, Texas:

“Purity of human expression and experience is not confined to guitars, to tubes, to turntables, to microchips. There is no right way, no pure way, of doing it. There’s just doing it. … Treat it like it’s all we have. And then remember it’s only rock ‘n roll.”

But it’s through “the majesty, the mystery and the ministry of rock ‘n roll” that Springsteen has reached into the hearts, minds and souls of millions of dedicated followers (so much more than just ordinary fans) for the last 40+ years. He has made a communion of sorts with them, one in which every single person counts, every single time he steps onto the stage, doesn’t matter where or for how long.

A lot has happened since those early days with the Castiles in the 1960’s, where he would leap from a lifeguard chair at some point in the show. These days the antics may be a bit more subdued for a man of his age (he turns 65 in September), however, there’s still time and space for some crowd-surfing, a jump onto Roy Bittan’s piano and sliding down the mic-stand, ending up back flat on the floor.

The one constant during all this time has always been Springsteen’s total and utter commitment to his craft, with guitar in hand and that ever present notebook right there. And then there’s been the recognition of those looking up at him night after night. No other performer has been able to do that, it’s this magical connection that has set him apart from the rest.

Springsteen has never been less than authentic with his music and what it represents and stands for. He’s always declared that it will be done when it was done. Taking it back to 1975 and Born To Run when he received an acetate pressing of the master copy of the album and hurled it into a swimming pool because he’d “do things differently”. Fast forward to 1984 when he took an acetate copy of “Dancing in the Dark” to a club in Asbury Park and instructed the DJ to play it without saying a word to the patrons, they went wild. As the first single released from Born in the U.S.A., it went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Springsteen changed his mind about other things too. Signs with song requests started making their appearance during the Reunion tour with the E Street Band during 1999/2000. He referred to them as “fuckin’ signs”. The situation changed considerably in 2008 on the Magic tour when he began calling for the signs to be hauled up onto the stage. Nowadays it’s not a Springsteen concert if the set list doesn’t get altered by these requests.

Another thing about rock ‘n roll, it’s a band thing, according to E Street Band member Stevie van Zandt. And the band is finally getting recognition from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when they are getting the Award for Musical Excellence later this year.

Springsteen was inducted as a solo artist in 1999. He readily acknowledges that bond between all involved in this most mystical of experiences though.

“The life of a rock band will last as long as you look down into the audience and can see yourself and they can look up at you and see themselves. If the price of fame is that you have to be isolated from the people you write for, then that’s too fuckin’ high a price to pay.”

No need to worry about this one, Bruce.

Bruce’s people

11 Jan

bruce's people

I’m The Boss and there are these people

He says with a chuckle

And they are

The heart-stopping, pants-dropping, house-rocking, earth-quaking

Booty-shaking, Viagra-taking, love-making, legendary E Street Band

 

He is The Big Man Clarence

He was too big to die

 

He is Phantom Dan

He had his Last Carnival

 

He is Little Stevie

Counsellor to Capo Springsteen

 

He is Mighty Max

Reigning on the raised platform

 

She is The Missus Patti

Firing up the boys club

 

He is a talent Garry

Mr Senior if you may

 

He is The Professor Roy

Always left of centre

 

He is The Great Nils

Double jointed if you may

 

He is Charlie G

The man after Phantom Dan

 

She is Sister Soozie

Fiddle friend forever

 

He is Ever(ett) so ready

Ask The Thin White Duke

 

He is The Little Big Man

Call me Jake C

 

He is Trumpeter Barry

Music’s who’s who

 

He is Clark G

Blowing his horn town-to-town

 

She is Miz C

Mega soul sister

 

He is Curtis C

All-round vocal master

 

He is The Kingfish

Another New Jersey man

 

He is Curt R

Always the brass man

 

He is The Nightwatchman

Playing with the Ghost of Tom Joad

 

She is Double MM

Rapping over Rocky Ground

 

It’s everything we have

It’s only rock and roll

It’s a magical and mystical ride up the hill

It’s a band of brothers and sisters

 

Springsteen hits home with High Hopes

7 Jan

bruce springsteen_high hopes

Sucker-punch – to hit someone with an unexpected blow, without warning, no time for preparation or defence.

That’s basically it for Bruce Springsteen’s 18th studio album, High Hopes, being released on 14 January and just ahead of the rocker’s first ever South African shows in a couple of weeks in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Local fans should be salivating since the album went streaming online yesterday (6 January) and they got a titillating taste of what waits just around the corner.

Why the notion that High Hopes is coming out left field? Because it’s not something that Springsteen has done before in his 40 years as a mega recording artist. The album is comprised of older songs that have been reworked, first time recorded versions of original tracks and covers. And its two covers that top and tail the 12 track album, the title track and “Dream Baby Dream”.

Producer Ron Anielllo is in Springsteen’s corner again for this one, after 2012’s Wrecking Ball. Contributing his magical and manic guitar hands (High Hopes, Harry’s Place, American Skin (41 Shots), Just Like Fire Would, Heaven’s Wall, Hunter of Invisible Game, Dream Baby Dream) as well as vocals (The Ghost of Tom Joad) is Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave fame. Then there’s the entire E Street Band, including the unmistakable sax sounds of the late Clarence Clemons (of whom Springsteen said many moons back “Because the Big Man is backing me up, I play much better than I ever would solo”) and Danny Federici’s organ.

It’s confession time – starting to listen to High Hopes, it was not what was expected, not a typical Springsteen album. Where, since 1973, there’s been a very precise logic and order, a theme, gushing through a myriad of veins as the main artery, the life line that holds everything together. What it undoubtedly is though, is classical Springsteen. Vocals rich in texture and emotion, music clouted in command, as so clearly is reverberating on “American Skin (41 Shots)” and “Down In The Hole”.

You know it ain’t cut and dry and you pay for “everythiiing” but that searing searching is dragging you along on “High Hopes”. The pursuit for the release from the treacheries of life continues with “The Ghost of Tom Joad”. But hold on, ye of little faith, hold on in “Hunter Of Invisible Game”. This is after all a sermon from the pulpit of rock and roll and this preacher is asking you to “Dream Baby Dream”.

The last words on High Hopes should belong to no one else than the man himself.

“This is music I always felt needed to be released.  From the gangsters of “Harry’s Place,” the ill-prepared roomies on “Frankie Fell In Love” (shades of Steve and I bumming together in our Asbury Park apartment) the travelers in the wasteland of “Hunter Of Invisible Game,” to the soldier and his visiting friend in “The Wall”, I felt they all deserved a home and a hearing. Hope you enjoy it.”

Getting inked

3 Jan

I can’t draw, not for nothing. I wish I could. (For that matter sing, dance and play the guitar as well.) Fact is, when given a brush and paint; I would probably gawk at these two objects and freeze in fear. It doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate this art form in all its nuances, and that of sound and movement too.

That’s why I use my body as a canvas, for others to ply their trade. No less than three times in the space of a couple of months. It’s not what you think, whatever you are thinking… Getting a tattoo may not sound like much, but considering that I was an ink virgin, it was a huge deal.

I’ve always wanted one. Why? I can’t say. There’s no specific reason, just always had this inclination that I’m supposed to get inked. You just know when you know when you know.

There are very specific whys and wherefores though for the tattoos on my body. It may not make sense to others. I can try and explain, but if I have to, you won’t get it, ever. And I’m not scared to show it. If you make the choice to go and sit in that chair, you shouldn’t be afraid to put the results on display, proudly.

Tattoo 1 – The Enso (circle) is a sacred Zen symbol, also called the Circle of Enlightenment and the Infinity Circle. It is a manifestation of the moment, a representation of our true and innermost self. And all we ever have, is this breath, in this moment, no matter what.

tattoo1

 

Tattoo 2 – Courtesy of Mr Bruce Springsteen and a life-changing trip to Ireland mid-2013. Also the title of his break-through album in 1975, it represents something profoundly personal – But I gotta find out how it feels, I want to know if love is wild, I want to know if love is real…

tattoo2

 

Tattoo 3 – What can I say? The Boss is to blame again. The soundtrack of my life, my musical guru – Well the night’s busting open, These two lanes will take us anywhere, We got one last chance to make it real, To trade in these wings on some wheels…

tattoo3

 

I have been inked three times. I’m not finished yet. So much inspiration, so little skin…

 

Thank you Bruce, for bringing me home

31 Dec

bruce springsteen

 

Today is 31 December. It is wet outside, been raining fitfully the last couple of days, the last couple of days of 2013. The door is wide open, that is the door out onto the balcony and that other door, the one through which a world of opportunity awaits.

I get up, grab the cd on top, lift the cover, open the other cover and push play. And suddenly I’m reliving the best year of my life.

 

I been knocking on the door that hold the throne

I been looking for the map that leads me home…

We take care of our own

 

Why now, why this year? Was it turning the big 40 that did it, that finally flipped the switch to ON? I don’t know, maybe, but I’m not going to dwell on it. Instead, I’m embracing it totally, without thought or reservation. Savouring it. Every. Single. Second.

 

You put on your red dress for me tonight honey

We’re going on the town now

Looking for easy money

 

This is not to say that it’s all been smooth sailing, not at all. But that’s just the thing. It’s life. There can be no highs without the lows, no ups without the downs. After the light there’s dark. The yin and the yang. The rock and the roll.

 

Shacked and drawn, shackled and drawn

Pick up the rock son, carry it on

 

I had wished for this year to be it, to be that seminal point where I would make that connection and sparks would fly and I would touch the stars. It just happened. No explanation given, none needed. Magic, that’s what it is. But not the tricky kind. Without foolery. Not fake. The real thing. What you see is what you get. And even if you keep on wondering why, you just have to know one thing, you are never going to need anything else. Excuse me; I am never going to need anything else.

 

There’s a new world coming, I can see the light
I’m a jack of all trades, we’ll be all right

 

So therefore, I have only one thing to ask of you – with my head in the clouds and my hand on my heart and my feet firmly planted on mother earth, let me be who I am, even if it makes no sense to you whatsoever. If I don’t harm anybody with my words or actions, if I’m a considerate human being with respect for my fellow earthlings (human and not), if I don’t cause chaos and destruction with whatever I deem fit to do with my life, then let me be me.

 

Now get yourself a song to sing 
And sing it ’til you’re done
Sing it hard and sing it well

 

During the last 12 months, the realization finally set in, at the same time gradual but also instantaneous, that I’ve set my life to the soundtrack of Bruce Springsteen. How is it possible that a man who released his first studio album (Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., 1973), the same year that I was born, thousands of miles apart and on opposite sides of the ocean (Jersey vs. Johannesburg), whose life is not only worlds apart from my own in geography but also in the day-to-day of living it, can speak so clearly and without reservation to ME? And is continuing to do so unequivocally and will so for as long as there is rhythm and rhyme.

 

This is my confession
I need your heart

 

That’s the thing with music, it stops time, it makes you forget, it does something, it gives everybody that thing that everybody needs in that moment. It gave me what I needed on that night in July in Kilkenny. Under an Irish sky, my organs of hearing, “responsible for maintaining equilibrium and sensing sound”, took in line after line after line of pure melodic prose and poetry.

 

C’mon and take your best shot 
Let me see what you got
Bring on your wrecking ball

 

It was the 66th and last stop on the European leg of the “Wrecking Ball” tour for Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band. It was also part of my yearlong celebration of turning 40 and making it one for the books. The biggest and best and most badass present anyone can give themselves.

 

Honey, it ain’t got a name
You just know it when you see it
Baby, you’ve got it
Baby, you’ve got it
C’mon and give it to me

 

With blood dripping from his hand, and stripped down to a soaking wet t-shirt, he made his way back to the middle of the stage, one more time. When the last notes were played, he pointed to his heart, kissed his fingers, waved goodbye and said “Be good to yourselves”.

 

We’ve been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground

 

There was no way I could walk away from Nowlan Park that night and that experience and not be affected. I’m actually still struggling to put it into words, properly and with everything that it deserves. You had to be there, really be there, in body and spirit, in soul, to get it. But there’s also that fear, with something like this, that as the clock ticks, that THAT feeling will fade away. Not in this instance however, not one iota of fear about the lingering forever-after, none whatsoever. It’s still here, as I’m writing this, I close my eyes, and I’m back…

 

Dreams will not be thwarted
This train…
Faith will be rewarded

 

Those seven most glorious of days on the Emerald Isle, with Nowlan Park and Kilkenny shining like a beacon, was way too short, I know. I can describe it in now other way than ‘The trip that changed my life’. I am forever and eternally grateful.  And if I say life changing, I mean l-i-f-e-c-h-a-n-g-i-n-g. It gave me no choice other than to start living life to the fullest, and on my terms. It’s my life and I am doing it my way.

 

To stand shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart
We are alive

 

I sleep soundly at night (except when it’s full moon, don’t ask…), and I don’t regret anything I’m doing. Sorry, this is a lie; there is one thing I do regret – wasted opportunities. But no more, hell no! If this means having to “boldly go where angels fear to tread”, then this fabulous and fearless 40 year old says – bring it on, I can hardly wait!

 

We trusted our skills and our good sails
Our faith that with God the righteous in this world prevail

 

Everything fits like a glove, like the skin that I know I am absolutely and unashamedly supposed to be living in. The one that is grateful for and appreciate the one that was shed before as it is now the foundation for the new layer to grip and grow and prosper into something glowing. The one that has had its fair share of ups and downs and has the battle scars, some not seen by the naked eye, to prove it. The one that has had goose bumps and the hairs standing up from countless exhilarating encounters and experiences. But above all, the one that will forever grow and stretch and fold and mould into more of me. 

I’m going now while I’m still young my darling meet me there
Wish me luck my lovely I’ll send for you when I can

 

The sun is out. The cd stops. I push repeat.

 

I been knocking on the door that hold the throne

I been looking for the map that leads me home…