So let’s be honest… Los Angeles audiences used to suck. I’m sorry, but they did. And many artists will tell you the same thing.
My buddy Russ and I have been seeing Bruce shows since college… all around the country… and LA audiences used to be observers, not participators. Used to talk… A LOT… during a show.
I used to have to turn around and say things like “I’m sorry is the live music interfering with your conversation?” Or “let me ask the band to quiet it down so you guys can talk.”
The joke about an LA sports fan showing up in the 3rd inning and leaving during the 7th applied to music as well.
All that has changed… at least at Bruce shows… and the last two concerts at the LA Sports Arena, on March 17th and 19th were EPIC… Truly!
I will say that the dreaded cell phones are still a problem… but this is in every city! Come on, are you REALLY gonna watch the video you shot on your crappy 4-inch screen? Take a few pictures… a few seconds of video and put the damn phone down!!! There is an actual LIVE artist and band in front of you… and they HATE looking out and seeing tiny screens instead of wide, open eyes and faces!
I will give you the Zippo Lighter App… I love using that one… or even the light on the phone as a modern-day answer to the lighters that people used to hold up high in the air to show appreciation and community… but limit your phone usage to that! Period!!!
So… Just to give you an idea of how many Bruce shows I have seen… March 17, 2016 marked my THIRD Bruce St. Patty’s Day show!
Any Bruce fan will tell you that seeing Bruce live is like voting… do it early and often. Each show is different from the next, especially in a multi-night stand… and while this tour is a bit more “locked down” as far as set lists go, each night has something new and unique to offer. And yes, Virginia, a Bruce Springsteen concert is as close to a religious experience as one can get, outside a Shul or Sanctuary!
The energy of the crowd was clearly infectious, as the band kept getting better and better. I did not attend the first of the three nights, but a couple we were sitting next to on the last night (Who happened to be at their 200th show!!!) said each night was better the next!
The Saturday night (3/19/16) show clocked in at an amazing 3 hours and 45 minutes (according to Backstreets.com), which I believe is still the longest show of the tour. The buzz started when my buddy Brad got a text as we were walking into the arena, that the curfew had been lifted for the night. Play on, Bruce… Play on!
I had heard from my brother that The River portion seemed rushed in New York… and I can say this was not the case at all in LA… Bruce took his time and dove in to The River… deep… and highlights for me were both nights’ incredible versions of “Independence Day”, “Point Blank” and “Drive All Night.”
This album definitely requires patience and attention and the LA crowd was right there… sitting on the slower songs, but contemplating them… listening… being an active participant. It made for an amazing show (s).
My brother had also mentioned that in NYC there were a bunch of “Hedge Fund douchebags” who would not stop talking and texting during the slower songs of The River… and who went koo koo crazy during the more commercial songs like “Dancing In The Dark.” Clearly lots of money does not necessarily translate to class and good behavior… and concert etiquette.
Cut to Madison Square Garden… 3/28/16
The NYC show was a total fly by the literal seat of our pants… and the tickets did not come through until after the show started… but a huge shout out of thanks and gratitude go to Rich and Michael-Ann!!!
It was my daughter Julianna’s first Bruce show… and also the first show for my nieces, Ava and Lila.
J and I missed “Meet Me In The City”… heard “The Ties That Bind” and “Sherry Darling” from the hallways… and got to our seats in time for “Jackson Cage.”
And what seats they were… Holy Cow! Low and to the side, but still in front of the stage… fantastic!
I actually agree with my brother and think The River was better performed in LA… surprising… but he just took his time with it and as I said above… the songs “Point Blank”, “Drive All Night” and “Independence Day” were so powerful and vital and just grabbed you by the heart, throat and balls!
But once the second half started, The Garden erupted and I could see a major change in my daughter’s appreciation, as well… even though I had begged her to really listen to The River so she would be familiar with the songs… Oh well…
“Born To Run” put a huge smile on her face! And that made it all worthwhile!
The crowd definitely soared during the second half, as well… Second half… How utterly amazing is it to say that Bruce plays for TWO HOURS… and that is just him getting started?! The man is 66 years old!
So as many of you know by now, Bruce danced and shook his booty with his Mom during “Ramrod”… Awesome!
But the highlight for me was and will always be hearing my first live “Meeting Across The River.” It’s kind of crazy how many times I have “missed” seeing this song. When Bruce opened Staples Center and played four nights… I had to miss one of the shows… and of course, what did he play at that show??? “Meeting…”
But, as my brother Dan and buddies Russ and Jason exclaimed… “You got your Meeting!” I have been waiting for 34 years to hear that one live… and while he did not sit at the piano and play it, as he often does, it was such a moving experience for me. Really, sincerely and hit me in the soul moving… and highly emotional. I literally shed tears as I sat and took in what is one of my very favorite Bruce songs…
And THIS is what Bruce Springsteen is all about. THIS is what Rock n’ Roll is all about. The power of music!
After the concert had ended, the woman behind me, who had thanked me earlier for staying still during Nils guitar solo during “Because The Night” (She nicely asked me to let her film it… and told me she came in from London just to see that)… thanked me again. But this time it was to tell me how moved she was just to see how much “Meeting Across The River” meant to me… how I sat… embraced it… and let it wash over me. She said it made her concert experience that much better.
Rock n’ Roll really can bring us together… so long live Rock!