By Tony Hicks
Thursday, October 25th, 2007 at 11:37 pm in Uncategorized.
Well, I was right to a degree. The new material off Bruce Springsteen’s new record “Magic,” sounded better after I saw him and his E Street Band play much of it live Thursday night at the Oracle Arena.
That said – it still wasn’t enough. That was a memorable Springsteen show, just not for the right reasons.
My theory was that Springsteen, who’s usually the best live rock act on the planet, would elevate the mediocre (for him) new material in a live setting. I was hoping it would benefit from the electricity (magic?) the band usually produces on stage.
But that wasn’t even the biggest problem. Yes, he played too many songs from the new record without enough classics to balance out the songs people didn’t know. But, at two hours and ten minutes, the show was at least 50 minutes shorter than any previous Springsteen show I’d seen. I know, most shows run a standard 90 minutes. Those are mortal bands. Sorry, but when you’re as good as Sprinsgteen, and you usually work that hard, you create expectations.
But what was really troubling was, while still better than 95 percent of the rock shows you’ll see in your life, this was disjointed. People were sitting down – definitely not the norm at a Springsteen show. The rock and roll preaching, the high-fiving, the connections that make the E Street Band one of the world’s greatest rock bands, was missing Thursday.
It was all very perfunctory. For them, anyway. The show only got going once they ripped into “Badlands” about 90 minutes in. Suddenly, everything was right. But the lights came up way too soon for “Born to Run,” which usually closes the show. And, though there were still a few songs afterward, it was obvious that something wasn’t right.
Maybe Springsteen is getting tired. He’s been working mighty hard the past six years, including last year’s triumphant “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Seesions,” after which he toured one of his best shows ever. It seems that “Magic” was pushed out too early. It could’ve benefitted from another year of cooking and some better songs. I don’t care that Rolling Stone and all the usual music mags say it’s a 5-star record. It’s not even close. Anytime one of the usual “genius” artists (Springsteen, Dylan, Radiohead, whomever) trot out something new, some critics feel it’s their job to explain why they know it’s brilliant and you don’t. Only this time, they’re wrong, and that was proven Thursday night. When a show relies heavily on newer, mediocre material, the show can’t help but be mediocre. Which, for Springsteen, is unacceptable. His career has lasted too long, and been too brilliant, to settle for anything less. The usual effort just wasn’t there, nor were the results.
I know a lot of people going to tonight’s (Friday night’s) show. Hopefully, for them, Thursday was an aberration. Maybe I’ll wake up Friday morning with a clearer perspective on Thursday. But I doubt it.
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