wine by the color

Friday, April 21, 2006

rehearsal n. The act or process of practicing for a performance.

If this was the rehearsal, I can't imagine how tremendous the actual shows on the tour will be, because Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band Rehearsal 1 at Convention Hall in Asbury Park, N.J., last night was one fantastic evening of music.

There's something special about seeing Bruce in Asbury Park. I first saw him at Convention Hall in December of 2001, for one of his holiday fundraiser shows. It was at that show that we first heard "My City Of Ruins." Convention Hall is just old school. It's a small, intimate hard-core venue that only holds a few thousand people.

Last night's crowd was somewhat tentative when the band came on stage, and I think that's because many people didn't know what to expect. Frankly, when we saw it advertised as a rehearsal show for the tour, we figured it would be a very casual performance, with the occasional stoppage when things weren't working. That was not the case. It wasn't perfect, but it was really, really damn good.

The crowd got over its hesitation immediately, as the band launched into a spirited "Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep." From there, we got a boisterous, rollicking evening of everything from folk to bluegrass to gospel to swing. The band was so large it was hard to tally how many people there were - at most, I believe I counted 18 on stage simultaneously. The horn section was tremendous, and Soozie Tyrell, in particular, was unbelievable on violin. Bruce was in fine form - loose, clearly enjoying himself, energized by the amazing musicians on stage with him.

As a reporter said: "If you like music, you're going to like this show." Amen, brother. My clapping hands and dancing feet didn't stop for two hours. The music from the upcoming album was outstanding, but what he did with some of his own songs was equally impressive. A version of "Adam Raised A Cain" that would have been unrecognizable but for the lyrics. The horns on "My City of Ruins," which made it more haunting than usual.

This immediately takes a spot on my list of the top three Springsteen shows I've seen, joining the aforementioned Dec. 2001 show in Asbury Park and the March 2003 show in Atlantic City. It's going to take an amazing amount of self-restraint to not go again next week. I just don't know that I'm that strong.

The setlist:
Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep
John Henry
Johnny 99
Old Dan Tucker
Eyes on the Prize
Jesse James
Adam Raised a Cain
Erie Canal
My Oklahoma Home
Devils & Dust
Mrs. McGrath
How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?
Jacob's Ladder
We Shall Overcome
Open All Night
Pay Me My Money Down
My City of Ruins
Buffalo Gals
You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
When the Saints Go Marching In


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