Friday, March 25, 2016
My uncle John asked me about the setlist over the three nights of Springsteen at the Los Angeles Sports Arena last week, specifically, “What songs were played?” That’s a loaded question because the answer is, “A lot of them.” By my count, it was 45 different songs to be precise! I understand how obsessive this comes off to the non-fan, or even casual-fan, but here’s what was played. As mentioned in my previous post, 22 songs were a given: all 20 tracks on The River album as well as the opener, Meet Me In The City, and the encore, extended version with band intros of The Isley Bros’ Shout! That leaves 23 other tunes. Among those, there were 6 other songs that were staples, and also played all three nights. Those were:
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
Dancing in the Dark
Born To Run
And, no, despite the popularity of those 6 songs, none of those have been played at every single Bruce concert I’ve seen, but for this tour they are standards.
There were only 3 songs that were played two nights in L.A.:
Wrecking Ball (not played on night 2)
Because The Night (not played on night 2)
The Rising (not played on night 3, the first time it has been dropped on this tour)
This brings us down to the “special songs” that I’m sure my uncle really wanted to know about. These are the ones that really changed things up from night to night. There were 14 of this variety as follows:
Night 1 (Tues.)
She’s The One
Night 2 (Thurs.)
Death To My Hometown (tour premiere)
The Promised Land
American Land (tour premiere)
[both premieres presumably for St. Patrick’s Day]
Night 3 (Sat.)
Prove It All Night
My Love Will Not Let You Down
Tougher Than The Rest
Bobby Jean (added as show closer for only the second time this tour)
Some other notable stats: Both night 1 and night 3 got 35 songs whereas night 2 got 34 songs. However, on night 2, it seemed like Bruce extended Shout longer than either of the other two nights, to the point where he and the audience were ready to drop, in fact, by where I was on the floor, several did. Time-wise though, night 3 was the longest show, 3 hours, 45 minutes, clocking in at the longest Springsteen show I have ever seen, and one of his longest ever!
Well, there you have it. Those are the song statistics for the historic 3-night run at The Dump That Jumps, the last shows at the Los Angeles Sports Arena ever. This was the first place I ever saw Springsteen. Notably, my uncle John Lynd, the guy I’m posting this for, took me to that show!
Personal Premieres at the Springsteen L.A. Shows
Coming into the three shows at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, there were 9 songs off The River album that I had NEVER seen performed live in person. These songs were: Sherry Darling, Jackson Cage, Crush On You, I Wanna Marry You, Fade Away, Stolen Car, The Price You Pay, Drive All Night, & Wreck On The Highway. If you throw in The River outtake, Meet Me In The City, as well as the cover of The Isley Brothers’ Shout!, then those are 11 songs I had never ever heard Bruce sing live before. It turns out that over the 3-night stand, that those 11 songs would be the “only” new songs for me. Obviously, I say that a bit tongue-in-cheek, because, for any Springsteen fan, having never-before-heard-live-TO-YOU-songs, is a huge feather in your Bruce cap. And, having 11 personal premieres is nothing to sneeze at! That my friends, is the beauty of this current tour, Bruce promised to play the entire The River album each and every night. Thus, to my uncle who asked to hear a bit more about the setlists from last week, I want to start with this post, letting you know that, for each of the three nights, the first 21 songs were exactly the same. He opened with Meet Me In The City and then played all four sides (20 songs) of The River album straight through. This part of the show took-up the first 2+ hours of each evening. He also closed his encores with Shout, except for night 3 when he added a bonus closer. That was only the second night on the current tour that he didn’t close with Shout, but more on that in the next post.
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!