Yes, yes, dear regular readers. Did you think I was going to allow the Boss to visit Boston and not go see him and the boys (and girls?) Silly you. But this won’t be a review as such. Reviewing a Springsteen show is like reviewing a magnificent work of art. It’s always magnificent. All you can do is give your spin on the…
“…heart-stopping, pants-dropping, earth-shocking, hard rocking, booty-shaking, earth-quaking, love-making, Viagra-taking, history-making, legendary E! Street! Band!
To begin with, I almost didn’t make the show. Say what? Well, I’d been kinda sick for the proceeding couple of days and the night before the show I had pretty much given up any hope of walking around Boston on a cold night and not wheezing.
In fact, i had – heresy! – put the tix up for sale on TicketBastard, Craigslist and advertised them on Twitter. (I reinstaetd my Twitter account under Elon Jerkoff just long enough to do that.)
By the grace of the Hammer of the Gods, no one responded till mid-day of the show. “Still available?” he asked. “No,” I lied. Because while I wasn’t feeling 100% I was feeling better and, well, The Show Must Go On.
We (my wife is every bit the Springsteen fan as I am) grabbed a bite at a food court downstaris from TD Garden. You know the place – not enough seats, burgers that take 6 hours to make, overpriced. After we got inside and stood in line for a six-dollar bottle of water, we got into the Garden about 15 minutes before the advertised 7:30 start time. Which of course, meant 7:50 in Show Biz Time.
I had gotten floor seats because having seen Roger Waters I knew they were your best bet. They weren’t too bad either as you’ll see in my shitty videos. At least I wasn’t one of these poor sons of bitches way up on the right almost behind the stage. I happen know those tix will run you at least $300 (278 Euros).
Since I am going to discuss ticket prices in an upcoming post, I am going to do something I never do which is tell you what I paid. For two tickets about 25 rows from the stage I paid about $900 (835 Euro).
Was it worth it? If you paid a ton of dough to go to, say, the Grand Canyon or the Taj Mahal did you come home and say, Well that was a fuckload of money? Maybe you did. But the experience stayed with you. (My next post will be about the chain of greed that led to this situation).
The band (19 people strong) entered one by one and when The Boss came on the room instantly lustily filled with boos! Were people booing Bruce because he charged so much? Relax, I’ve seen the guy ten times since 1977*. I’m just fucking with you.**
This show was leaner and meaner than any I’ve ever seen from Bruce and the gang. By that I mean shorter (2:50 vs 4:02 last time he was in town.) And fewer stories from Bruce about his old man and the friction between them. No signs from the crowed asking to hear, say, “Thundercrack.” And mysteriously, zero merch for sale. There’s a lost opportunity.
The first tune was “No Surrender” from Born in the USA and then “Ghosts” from Letter To You. Both sounded great but for me an inauspicous beginning as the first tune doesn’t grab me, the second I hadn’t heard. (Bear in mind when I saw him 2016 he started out with 10 of his first 11 songs being from his first two albums. Which is where I came in. Pretty sure I got an erection.)
The first tune that grabbed me was the always reliable “Prove it All Night” wherein the Bruce and Steve Van Zandt usually exchange wicked solos. Except tonight they didn’t. In fact, Van Zandt seemed a little removed all night. I wonder if he was the one who had the recent illness. Neverthess, Bruce got off some great solos from his patented “I am wrenching those fucking notes out of ths box of wood and wires” technique:
After he had whipped the frenzied, frothing-at-the-mouth Beantown crowd into a frenzy, the band took on “Letter To You,” “Promised Land,” “Out in the Street,” and “Candy’s Room.”
And then, the greatest Springsteen song of all time except for all the others, “Kitty’s Back.” And this about when I realized Bruce had not just a horn (sax) but a fucking horn section. (Plus backup singers, violin.) In addition to the Big Man’s nephew Jake, there were four (count ’em) horns – tenor sax, trombone and two trumpets! I wouldn’t have been surpised (or even displeased) if they did a Chicago tune.
Bruce and the band whipped off a credible cover of “Nightshift,” a song he likes a whole lot better than I do. Then it was on to the great Jimmy Cliff cover “Trapped,” “The E Street Shuffle,” (everybody form a line), and then- from Nebraska, “Johnny 99.”
Now Springsteenologists will tell remind you that Nebraska was a solo acoustic album of demos that Bruce couldn’t figure out how to beef up with the band. I guess they figured it out. From Kansas City where, sources advise, they got a lotta pretty women:
Bruce had few poignant moments talking about his bandmate George Theiss from his first band The Castiles (named for a soap!) who passed away a few years ago leaving Bruce the “Last Man Standing.” He did the song solo and then sang “Back Streets” f0r him.
And then the ever-popular “Because the Night,” which – sorry setlist.fm- is not a Patti Smith cover but essentially a co-written song. I wanted to get this on here because Nils Lofgren whips off some tasty licks. (From Seattle).
The band whipped through “She’s The One,” “Wrecking Ball,” (have to spend some time with that album), Bruce’s 9/11 song, “The Rising” and “Badlands.”
Have to tell you about the encore. Now there’s nothing a Boston audience (sports or music) loves more than to hear a song about themselves even though that song says nothing good about the city. But basically the premise of “Dirty Water,” is, well, we love ya anyway you cranky old town. (We heard Steely Dan cover this as well. Are there any more different bands than Springteen and the Dan?)
We know that Bruce goes to Des Moines, Iowa and tells them the same shit. But Bruce is an East Coast guy and made his reputation in Philly, Jersey, New York and was “discovred” by Jon Landau at the now-defunct Harvard Square Theatre in Cambridge. His son went to Boston College and he has some definite ties and shout-outs here.
Now I want my fellow Springteen-o-maniacs to step away from the ledge when I advise that the rest of the encore consisted of
- Thunder Road
- Born to Run
- Rosalita (sweet Jesus)
- Glory Days
- Dancing in the Dark (no sign of Courtney Cox)
- Tenth Avenue Freeze Out
I was hoping to entertain you with the last one but somehow I wound up with, like, three seconds of it. But it’s fun to see a picture of Jersey the Bruce prancing around in a leather jacket that some dude threw to him that will NEVER BE CLEANED.
So I will happily “settle” for the true story of “Rosalita,” to this day MEs favorite song from his favorite Bruce album. I even refrained from singing so I wouldn’t entirely ruin the video.
The show ended with Bruce doing a solo acoustic “I’ll See You in My Dreams” which I didn’t know and would have sworn was a Tin Pan Alley standard. Bruce, at 73, is definitely feeling his mortality and as an artist, is sharing that with his audience. Maybe he’s also foreseeing the ultimate demise of the E Street Band. At what point do you put down the Telecaster? At what point, to quote an early Springsteen tune, does the bus no longer stop at 82nd Street?
For no particular reason I’ll leave you with Bruce’s cover of Jimmy Cliff’s “Trapped,” which he’s been doing since the 70s, never to my knowledge recorded for an album. Nirvana and Pixies used to talk about dynamics, loud, soft, loud like they invented it. Listen to this:
So, I reiterate. Money’s worth? Check. My wife danced all night. Can I afford a thousand bucks for two tickets? Can you? Unless people are dirt poor, they go on vacation and scrimp and save for years to go to Disney and spend that on the gift shop. Or if the mechanic says, “That transmission is going to cost you two grand” we find the money. Why not blow it on yourself once in while?
Am I justifying these ticket prices? Well, maybe only to myself. The whole fucking ticket thing is a monopolistic scandal which Congress waves aside like a disgruntled voter.
But. Tonight we celebrate. And if I had one wish it would be that Patti came out and did a duet with Bruce. OK, two wishes . “Atlantic City.” Three wishes – “Point Blank.”
For my post on ticket pricing, watch this space.
*Big fucking deal. I read about a guy who was at the same show and has seen him 277 times since then. That’s 4x/year.
**I’m reminded of the story in No Nukes where Tom Petty is told that if he hears “Br–uu-ce” when he comes on they are not booing him but calling for Bruce. “What’s the difference?” Petty said.
Prove It All Night
Letter To You
The Promised Land
Out in the Street
Nightshift (Commodores cover)
Trapped (Jimmy Cliff cover)
The E Street Shuffle
Last Man Standing
Because the Night
She’s the One
Dirty Water (Standells cover)
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
I’ll See You in my Dreams
18 thoughts on “Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – TD Garden, Boston – 3/20/23”
He played a few songs from the Wild, thr Innocent.
I wonder what point its not the E Street band anymore. Gary Tallent is the only guy who was there from the start, while Steve Van Zandt is the most recognizable. Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg have been around for ages too.
All true. But to your point, those guys have longevity in the band, so I think it’s fair to still call them that. And it’s just the core crew referred to as that, of course, the rest being touring members. A better question on that is Lynyrd Skynyrd with exactly zero original members and only Johnny Van Zant providing a tenuous link.
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Awesome! Sounds like a great show regardless of the price. And I can’t fault you as I just did the same thing to see the last Kiss show of their last tour at Madison Square Garden. Will it be worth it? Who knows and who cares, but the experience of that show and a trip to NYC with my brother will all be worth whatever I paid. He took me to my first Kiss show and I’m taking him to our last one!! The memories will be priceless.
Absolutely. You could drop that much at the Disney gift shop. And you know what, fuck Disney. I’d rather blow it on a great night out.
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Ah, no Sherry Baby. Oh well, next time.
Yeah, well, he’s got hundreds of songs so can’t make everybody happy.
Great post about what was obviously a great night. The money spent will soon be forgotten but the memories will last a long long time. And frikkin’ “Kitty’s Back.” Definitely a Top 5 Bruce track for me.
For a monetary contrast, last night I saw the brilliant Polish progressive rock band Riverside at a local club about 10 minutes from my house. It’s a 750-capacity venue that was packed, the show was great, and it cost $40. But damnit, they didn’t play “Kitty’s Back.” 😀
Given the prices, I think we’ll be going to polka night at the American Legion from now on. Maybe we can get them to play ‘Kitty’ on accordion.
Get a few drinks under your belt and you won’t know the difference.
Right. Bruce occasionally has an accordion in the band plus I can afford more Schlitz.
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From a scrawny street guy dragging his guitar on stage followed by a hard core bar band to the polished guy today. All said and done he’s a rocker to the core and some. Sounds like a good time was had by all. As usual.
Funny but I said you my wife the other a day that they are STILL a bar band. I think Bruce would like that. He gives you your money’s worth
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Yup and yup.
I’m glad you and your wife caught Springsteen. It certainly sounds like you had an enjoyable night. Little Steven recently missed a few shows due to COVID, which may explain why he was “a little removed”, as you described it. Jake Clemons, on the other hand, sounded awesome on “Prove It All Night”.
While I was also a bit surprised Springsteen included “Nightshift” on his recent cover album and it took listening to it a few times, I’ve since come around and now actually like his rendition!
After bitching about high ticket prices, I took another look the other day and found a ticket I was willing to pay for Sep 1 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, the same venue where I saw Springsteen last in August 2016.
Perhaps I’m a strange music fan. While as you know I love going to concerts, I hate spending a boatload of cash – call me stingy! As such, I’m quite content getting a “cheap” seat. With around $130, that was definitely the case for Springsteen. I suppose it also helped it was an original as opposed to a resale ticket.
Obviously, this means I’ll be way up close to heaven. But I’ve been to MetLife various times, and even if you’re far away from the stage, it’s still a great experience, in my view.
Selfishly, I’m also hoping the Boss may play for more than 3 hours, given it will be in his home state, but I think I’d also be okay with 2:50 hours. In any case, I’m looking forward to it.
You can’t beat The Boss in Jersey. Truthfully, much as it wouldn’t appeal to me to be in the nosebleed seats, I saw no evidence that night that they enjoyed it any less.
The last time I saw him, he played for four hours. In retrospect, those long shows were a bit of overkill. These under-three-hours shows feel just right. I think Bruce was considering another tune as the lights went back off. I believe the band pushes back on him these days. If Jersey/New York is his first home, Boston is surely second.
Regardless, as you already know you will see a great show.
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Cracking review, sir and solid setlist (looks like he’s sussed out that cuts from Only The Strong Survive don’t really keep the momentum going as he started the tour including another). That encore is a fucking killer, imagine having that many great tunes that you can keep a cluster like that for the encore.
On a side note re the merch: I saw a note from a band I follow recently that pointed out “Venues often take a percentage of merch revenue from artists, and their rates have gotten higher in recent years. At tonight’s show in Paris, the venue has enlisted an outside company to sell artists’ merch. This company takes a 25% commission and withholds a 20% VAT tax. Our options appear to be either raising our prices or losing money, so we’ve opted to not sell merch tonight.” The venue in question was in with LiveNation/TicketBastard – perhaps, given the reception Bruce’s ticket prices received – the idea of inflated merch prices to boot wasn’t a popular one?
On another sidenote; I’ve got tickets for a gig in May that I paid a very reasonable £30 a ticket for (even with TMs involvement). Hopefully merch will be similarly reasonable in price
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The whole show was fucking awesome from go. Bruce starts where others leave off. I told CB they are the world’s greatest bar band and that Bruce would lipke that.
Agreed about the merch. Bruce probably didn’t want to seem too mercenary. Some guy was selling them on the but I figured it would fall apart before I got to the car.
Too bad. I never buy merch but I was considering it for this show.
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