starring bruce springsteen & the e street band, r.e.m., john fogerty, jackson browne, james taylor, the dixie chicks, john cougar melloncamp, keb mo, bonnie rait, babyface, pearl jam, jurrasic five, and dave matthews
live from washington dc’s mci center, 10/11
ive followed bruce springsteen’s career for the last twenty five years. ive seen him perform benefit concerts for amnesty international, he was part of we are the world, and his most famous protest concert caught on film was No Nukes
but never have i seen him do a mini tour to help dethrone one political leader like he and the above mentioned are doing against george w. bush.
and last night they did it wonderfully.
scheduled as a 5 hour affair, i set my tivo to record the rebroadcast of the event “just in case” it ran late, as its difficult to wrangle so many performers on one stage to keep it short when all of the acts are used to being headliners.
indeed this turned out to be wise as the rock ran into a sixth hour complete with all-star jams and pairings of superstars never before combined.
the show started innocently enough with little johnny melloncamp and his country flavored band. he sat on a chair for half of the set. is there something wrong with him that i wasnt aware of? either way it was a good 30 minute set ending with pink houses and it’s timely chorus of “aint that america, for you and me…”
babyface, the r&b pretty boy and producer who co-wrote and produced many acts including eric clapton performed the grammy winning “if i could change the world” that clapton made famous.
james taylor, jackson browne, and bonnie raitt were nice
but r.e.m was spectacular.
who knew that michael stipe had such a great live voice?
and i know yesterday was national coming out day, but has stipey always been soooo fey? as in soooo.
regardless it was cute to see him fawn all over springsteen. its nice when musicians who have been in the biz for 20+ years go out of their way to present the first pressing of their new cd to those who they admire, as stipe did backstage to the boss.
and its twice as nice when rock stars return the favor as bruuuuce did.
stipe: i was just given this special edition of our new cd. its the first one and i would like to give it to you.
bruce: thank you. i would like you to know that i’ve been brushing up on my r.e.m. hint hint.
near the end of the r.e.m. set, bruce was called onstage where he performed “man on the moon” wonderfully. stipe was beaming and bouncing around the stage as the upbeat chorus kicked in.
gay on many levels. the boss rushed off stage immediately as the tune ended. coincidence?
maybe it was just me. homophobe that i can be. for i clearly remember bruce and clarence kissing on tour on stage.
the concert also made me remember that during the clinton administration there was never any political rallies like this where intellectual musicians, millionaires at that, who go out of their way to appear for humanitarian causes, rallying against the democrats.
why is that?
next pearl jam played. i never liked pearl jam. i like vedders voice. occasionally. its still hard to watch. they looked like frat boys during the grunge era. they look like senators sons today. central casting gave vedder a flannel to remind people that he was once relevant in teenie boppers eyes. i love their politics and a few of their songs but even when tim robbins got on stage to sing X’s “new world” the actor seemed far less full of shit than the alleged rocker. cobain is dead, vedder keeps putting out more records, life isnt fair.
next was john fogerty who looks and sounds exactly the same. ridiculously full head of hair and strong voice. his tunes sound more political now then in the late 60s when they came out. wonderful. real. springsteen calls him the hank williams of his generation because he can make simple songs that are so easy to sing, and yet the lyrics are so deep. so true.
dave matthews comes and goes on my tivo. thank you tivo.
and then out came the man. bruce springsteen and the e street band.
time has done wonders for several members of e street.
the mighty max wineberg appears nightly on the conan o’brien show, the best late night talk show on tv, when he’s not traveling the world with the boss.
third string guitarist miami steve “little steven” van zant appears each sunday on hbo’s “the sopranos”, the best drama on tv – even when its on reruns.
clarence clemons is still the big man and its always nice to hear his rich tone.
and then theres bruce himself who only gets more handsome somehow as time goes by, and tougher, and stronger, and more powerful. sadly his new records only get sappier and more somber and less important.
last night was the exception. he had found his place in the sun. he was the leader of a band of brothers who identified the enemy and were poised to help the cause to blot it out.
they didnt have to spread any lies, or pass out propaganda. infact they did just the opposite, they reminded their audience in the final all star jam that the power was with the people. that the people could decide their own destiny.
as bruce said on stage, if you are happy with the war, vote for bush, if you think the president led a nation to war for false reasons, fire him.
but james taylor had the best advice for the undecided, which miraculously there are still several thousands – if not tens of thousands.
he said, look at both candidates
and pick the smart one.