Thursday, March 24, 2016

Point Blank in Los Angeles

Point Blank intro., shot of monitor, photo cred.: Josh Kitchen

Last week, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band took their The River Tour '16, the 35 anniversary of 1980's The River album, to the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Affectionately dubbed The Dump That Jumps, by Springsteen, his three shows there last week would be the final three concerts at the venue, ever! I was fortunate enough to catch all three shows there as follows: Tuesday, 3/15/16; Thursday, 3/17/16; and, Saturday, 3/19/16.
In a Facebook comment, my Uncle John left a plea for more information about the shows, some comments about the setlists, and a review. Since my first Facebook status update following the request turned into a rather long piece, I decided to post them here on my blog.
One of my highlights from last week's Springsteen shows was hearing the song Point Blank all three nights. I had heard it twice before, once at my first show in 1984 and once in 2000. However, these 2016 performances were better. The intro by Roy was otherworldly, goose-bump-inducing. Also, the backing vocals by Stevie were remarkable, even better than on the record, and obviously, Little Steven's critical contributions were missing in 1984. Most importantly, I had one of those experiences where, even though I'd heard the song hundreds of times on the album, and loved it, it was like I heard it for the first time last week! In particular, at the end Bruce sings "Did you forget how to love, girl, did you forget how to fight?" At least once he dropped the "girl" and asked, in a much more pronounced way: "Did you forget how to love? Did you forget how to fight?" It gave chills. That lyric was so understated on the studio version, even though The River was the first album I remember being captured by (at age 11), I'm ashamed to say I never heard those words! I had to go back and search for them, and they are there in a hushed tone. Live, they were particularly impactful to me because I'm going through a book, John Eldredge's Fathered by God, with my son, Wes, right now. In my favorite chapter, Warrior, the author talks about the importance of fighting, not quarreling or rabble-rousing, but contending, the idea that there are things in life worth fighting for, that a man must protect his heart for noble things. In this holy moment at the L.A. Sports Arena, it all came together, like the huge reveal at the end of Fight Club or Citizen Kane, and I was profoundly moved by the Great Warrior himself (no, not Bruce). I heard the Spirit tell me that I would never become passive, that I would fight! Indeed, I was born for the good fight! In particular, I knew as the song said, I would never become just another stranger in the shadows like some of the weak men I knew, my birth father among them. Most of all, I would, for the rest of my days be my wife, Chrisy's, Romeo, and, in that moment as Bruce sang and the E Street Band came to its heavenly zenith, I knew there were things I would ALWAYS put myself on the line for, my marriage, my family, the junior highers I lead at my church, the troubled youth in my classroom, all among them. I left those shows with, to quote Eldredge, "a great reservoir of passionate strength and holy desire." Unlike the protagonist in Point Blank, no matter what the state of my physical body, I would never ever wake up and be dying, oh, no, not this warrior!

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