Tag Archives: Tom Morello

The Boss says goodbye, for now…

3 Feb

bruce springsteen_1 feb 2014_liryn de jager  (4)

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It was wet and it was wild. He came, he saw, he conquered. He is undoubtedly The Boss.

With the clouds gathering above, the realization started to set in that this was going to be over soon. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s first ever visit to the southern tip of Africa was coming to an end at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg.

After three mind blowing performances in Cape Town, these mighty men and women of rock ‘n roll tickled and teased and cajoled and coaxed close to a 100 000 thousand souls in less than a week. And then the man at the centre declared “We’ll be back, I promise!” (We are going to hold you to that, Bruuuce!)

On Saturday the heavens opened up in a big way over the impressive stadium, but nothing was going to rain on the parade of the 60 000+ gatherers. There was not one iota of fear about the lingering forever-after, none whatsoever. You simply cannot walk away from an experience like this and not be affected, not be touched to the deepest, most inner part of your being.

Springsteen made sure that this one was going to a special one. Just after 5pm he nonchalantly walked out in a check-shirt, guitar flung across the shoulder and with a “Hi, hi, how are we doing? Thanks for coming out, you are going to have a great night!” he surprised and treated the sprinkling of fans already gathered to a three song pre-show acoustic set – Working on a highway, I’ll work for your love (with the harmonica) and Growin’ up.

The now packed stadium was greeted with a “Hallo Johannesburg, we are so glad to be here!” a few hours later. The greatest rock show on earth kicked off with Free Nelson Mandela in the same place where the memorial for the departed former South African president was held just a couple of weeks earlier. Land of Hope and Dreams fittingly followed.

Springsteen was totally committed to give his loyal and dedicated followers all and everything they came for, and then some more. He picked up a sign “I was your first black South African fan” before launching into No Surrender. Scanning for more signs, he grabbed one with specially made licence plates (E Street GP) with Seeds scribbled underneath. Just one look at his face and you could see, Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen was in a world of his own.

It was walkabout time with Out in the street with the man strutting his stuff in a silly way. With his hand over his eyes, looking out over thousands of faces of eagerness, he pointed repeatedly to a specific sign, in an I-want-that-one kind of way. And so Cadillac Ranch made its South African debut with Wisconsin night changed to Jo’burg night.

The trio of High Hopes, Wrecking Ball and Death to my hometown added another dimension to the night. The entire E Street Band (bar those like the Mighty Max and The Professor who were glued to their instruments of noise) made their way to the front of the stage.

With the pit saturated with around 8 000 people, crowd surfing wasn’t going to be on the cards for this one. Springsteen instead leaned back into welcoming arms and voices for Hungry Heart.

Another big sign was dragged onto the stage and to the absolute delight I’m on fire filled the night air.  As on the first night in Cape Town, the harmonica and falsetto voice thrills punctuated The River.

American Skin (41 Shots) brought down the rain in buckets but it didn’t dampen the spirits, not for one single second. There was a little bit of a false start to Heaven’s Wall but it was quickly back to business. Springsteen made the band members get out from underneath the cover of the stage and out into the pouring rain for Murder Incorporated and Johnny 99. Gulping mouthfuls of water from above and blowing it out again, he shouted “The rain, it’s good for ya!”

Busting some moves a la Elvis Presley style, Working on a highway got a full band workout from the acoustic arrangement a few hours earlier. Darlington County and Shackled and Drawn also made a re-appearance from the previous shows.

“This is the right song” was Little Stevie van Zandt’s comical quip when Waitin’ on a sunny day was introduced. Springsteen’s answer? “We are going to make it stop!”

The Rising preceded Ghost of Tom Joad. And this is where the rain put its damper on proceedings slightly when the microphones cut out. The anticipation was rife for the electrifying guitar work of Tom Morello on a Springsteen classic. The hampered start had the potential to throw things off track, but taking it in his stride, Springsteen waited for the difficulties to be sorted out before making it another hair-standing-up-on-your-neck affair.

The beginning of the end was signalled with Badlands with Springsteen speaking directly to his devotees. “Thank you for a lovely night… Thank you for your faith and generosity, for waiting for so long.”

As if on cue, Who’ll stop the rain from Creedence Clearwater Revival made the heavens eased up.

Then it was time to set the night on fire. Born in the USA, Born to Run, Bobby Jean and Dancing in the Dark got the soaked-to-the-bone die-hard adherents going totally wild. A “Are you tired yet?” from the man in the middle got them yelling back in unison “Nooo!” Tenth Avenue Freeze out got the jacket, tie and undercoat off yet again, ending with a leap from the piano.

“Are you done yet? Are you soaking wet? Don’t you wanna go home? Don’t you wanna go home? Don’t you wanna go home? Wait a minute… Thank you for a fine, fine welcome. I promise we are going to back, I promise, I promise!”

Shout added an exclamation mark and the E Street Band bid their final farewells.

The guitar was strapped across the shoulders, for one last time, the harmonica straightened around the neck, for one last time, the cords were strum, for one last time… Thunder Road echoed across the stadium and into the night, for one last time, and Springsteen spoke, for one last time “Be well, be safe, we love you.”

It was about so much more than just the music, the words and the notes, and the man at the centre of the stage holding it all together. Truth be told, it was a deliverance from the eternal and everlasting power of rock and roll.  

And if someone like Bruce Springsteen, backed up by the merry musical makers that are the E Street Band, is preaching this gospel, then hell yeah, I’m a believer. Which songs he uses to deliver the sermon time and time again, it doesn’t really matter. In an illustrious career spanning 40+ years, this musical bible has no last page.

Set list: 1 February 2014 – FNB Stadium, Johannesburg 

  1. Working on a Highway (Pre-show acoustic set)
  2. I’ll work for your love (Pre-show acoustic set)
  3. Growin’ up (Pre-show acoustic set)
  4. Free Nelson Mandela
  5. Land of Hope and Dreams
  6. No Surrender
  7. Seeds
  8. Out in the streets
  9. Cadillac Ranch
  10. High Hopes
  11. Wrecking Ball
  12. Death to my hometown
  13. Hungry Heart
  14. I’m on fire
  15. The River
  16. American Skin (41 Shots)
  17. Heaven’s Wall
  18. Murder Incorporated
  19. Johnny 99
  20. Working on the highway
  21. Darlington County
  22. Shackled and Drawn
  23. Waitin’ on a sunny day
  24. The Rising
  25. Ghost of Tom Joad
  26. Badlands
  27. Who’ll stop the rain
  28. Born in the USA
  29. Born to Run
  30. Bobby Jean
  31. Dancing in the Dark
  32. Tenth Avenue Freeze out
  33. Shout
  34. Thunder Road (acoustic)

Cape Town will never be the same again as Springsteen ends his wild ride

30 Jan

bruce springstreen_29 january 2014_liryn de jager (25)

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If you have to try and explain this thing, you won’t get it, never. Or maybe there is an apt description, like somebody who obviously doesn’t get it, quipped: “You Bruce people have all been beamed up to the mother ship, probed and prodded and then send back in some altered state.”

You had to be there to fully comprehend what transpired between Sunday, Tuesday and last night in Cape Town when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band hit the Mother City for their first ever shows on South African soil. Another rousing and rapturous three and a bit hour set, this time with 31 songs completing the set list, rocked the Belville Velodrome to its deepest foundations and took the doting Bruce devotees to a place they’ve never been before.

Instead of Free Nelson Mandela like on the first two nights, last night’s show kicked off with We take care of our own followed by Night. Jake Clemons took his place at the front of the stage and The Little Big Man made that sax gleam.  

No time was wasted in collecting the first sign request of the night and what a pick it was. The crowd was “liberated” and “confiscated” by Rosalita and Springsteen went into overdrive, nibbling on Little Stevie van Zandt’s ear in an over the top but real show of emotion.

Tom Morello stepped forward with High Hopes before it was back to the sign business with Adam raised a Cain. Springsteen showed his prowess on the cords, hair-raising stuff (and also finger numbing stuff, as he could barely sign autographs with a lucky few that ran into him at the hotel bar at 2am…)

It was clear as day under the South African night sky that Springsteen was talking to the gathering in a language that they could understand, the universal language of the power of music. Searching for those elusive and intangible words to describe just what they wanted to vocalize, he said on behalf of them: “Yeah, I got you man, I know exactly what you wanna say, I don’t know you, but I know you, know what I mean? I got you man, I got you.”

Something in the night was followed by Wrecking Ball with Sister Soozie Tyrell letting her violin talk the talk and those at the front of the pit jumping up and down, out of their skins. Then Morello got the suspenders swinging with his part in Death to my hometown.

The first walkabout of the evening resulted in riding the crowd surfing wave back to the stage on the rhythm of Hungry Heart.

With “We need some peace and tranquillity now” Springsteen picked up the harmonica for the first time during the evening. And when the realization set in, after the first couple of notes, that it’s Tougher than the rest, there was no turning back.

There was magic in the air. But not the tricky or fake kind. The real thing. Poignantly posed in the middle of the stage and with an illuminating light from behind, Springsteen gently eased into Jack of all trades. No need in denying it, yes, tears flowed…

Heaven’s Wall and the tour debut of This is your sword (and later on The Ghost of Tom Joad with Morello tearing it up in a big way) were the picks from High Hopes.

There was a brief interlude when Morello’s brother proposed to his girlfriend on stage with Springsteen adding a “We got him to propose to his girlfriend… Congratulations!” He dedicated Because the night and She’s the one to the happy couple.

Springsteen busted some major dance moves and pelvic thrusts, much to the delight of the female clan on Working on the highway and Shackled and Drawn. The whole band made it up right to the edge of the stage in a chorus line formation. Badlands rounded off the first set.

Van Zandt took centre stage with Sun City. He wrote and produced this 1986 protest song that was recorded by Artists United Against Apartheid in opposition to the apartheid policy of the then South African government.

Rocky Ground brought Michelle Moore and her rapping abilities to the front.

With a “Let’s go” it was encore and booty shaking time with Born to Run, Glory Days, Seven nights to rock, Dancing in the dark, Tenth Avenue Freeze-out and Twist and Shout. But the Cape Town crowd just didn’t want to let go, and Springsteen played his part too, stripping off his soaking wet undercoat, shirt and tie: “Stevie, we got to get to Johannesburg, man. Are you done yet, Cape Town? Are you sure? ‘Cause we will keep going!”

Then of course there was The Boss’s thank you to the greatest band in the land: “You have just witnessed the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, house-rocking, earth-quaking, booty-shaking, Viagra-taking, love-making, legendary E Street Band!”

He also had a few choice words for those down below and in the seats at the side of the stadium: “You may not be able to talk or walk or sit now, but at least you’ll be able to make love like an 18 year old!”

Before picking up the harmonica again and strumming the cords and closing out the night with an acoustic Thunder Road, Springsteen professed his gratitude for the fans in Cape Town, the locals and those who made the trek from all across the globe.

“We haven’t played here before and we weren’t sure how it would go. But you made us feel so welcome. We’ll be seeing you. The E Street Band loves you.”

Three down, one to go. And then the Bruce Blues kicks in. 

Set list: 29 January 2014 – Belville Velodrome, Cape Town   

1. We Take Care of Our Own 
2. Night
3. Rosalita
4. High Hopes
5. Adam Raised a Cain
6. Something in the Night
7. Wrecking Ball
8. Death to My Hometown
9. Hungry Heart
10. Tougher Than the Rest
11. Jack of All Trades
12. Heaven’s Wall
13. This Is Your Sword
14. Because the Night
15. She’s the One
16. Working on the Highway
17. Shackled and Drawn
18. Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
19. The Rising
20. The Ghost of Tom Joad
21. Badlands
22. Sun City
23. Rocky Ground
24. Born to Run
25. Glory Days
26. Seven Nights to Rock
27. Dancing in the Dark
28. Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
29. Twist and Shout
30. Thunder Road (acoustic)

Bruce shakes Cape Town again!

30 Jan

bruce_28 january 2014_liryn de jager (11)

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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)

The Boss rocks Cape Town!

28 Jan

bruce_26 jan 2014 (1)

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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)


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.”