Music is an amazing thing. It brings about a wide range of so many emotions when you experience it; the joy in a rousing rock anthem to the beauty of a perfectly played piano solo to the anger from a song about political or social justice. In his song called “Trenchtown Rock”, Bob Marley said “one good thing about music, is when it hits you, you feel no pain”. My experience with music has been every bit as special and then some.
Over this past weekend, Philadelphia was literally the musical epicenter of the country. We hosted three days of glorious music that won’t soon be forgotten. For those who were lucky enough to attend either the Made in America festival or the Bruce Springsteen concerts at Citizens’ Bank Park, this weekend was a testament to the great power of music.
I personally was able to attend both Bruce Springsteen concerts at the ballpark. With the shows averaging 3 hours and 40 minutes, fans sure got their money’s worth. If I can be honest, I don’t know how that man does it. I think it is quite obvious that he is not normal. By that I mean he has achieved a certain amount of longevity that most would be jealous to attain. In fact, Bruce Springsteen has more energy at 62 years of age than I do at 25.
The music of Bruce Springsteen brings about very polarizing responses. Most people either absolutely love his music and will buy anything he releases or they literally could not be more disinterested to the point of disdain when you bring up his name. You very rarely run into a person who is lukewarm on the subject of Bruce Springsteen.
There is one exception to that though, I have never met a person who attended a Bruce Springsteen concert and walked away unmoved. And that is why I love music much. One of my favorite past times is watching bands perform live. Even if I don’t know anything about their music, I love to watch live music. Hell, I have even gone and seen bands that I literally do not like and have come away with a new found respect for them if they can put on a good live show.
On Sunday night I was at Citizens Bank Park for night one of Bruce at the Ballpark. It was a 33 song, 3 hour and 45 minute house party. He opened the night with “Summertime Blues”, “Out in the Street”, “Sherry Darling”, and “Hungry Heart” and closed the night with “Thunder Road”, “Born to Run”, “Rosalita”, “Dancing in the Dark”, “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out”, “You Can’t Sit Down”, and “Twist and Shout”. This show included Bruce’s now trademarked mid-set forage into the crowd to gather sign requests, of which he played multiple songs that were requested. The amazing thing is that he pulled a sign request out for Roy Brown’s “Good Rockin Tonight”, a song he has played scarcely in the last 30 years; and after a quick consultation about the chord progression he yelled out 1,2,3,4 and went right into the song and the band played it without a hitch. With 22 songs in between it seemed like this show was gonna go on forever. The first of two shows was sold-out with a crowd in excess of 45,000 people singing, clapping, fist pumping, jumping, and chanting.
I was also at the show on Monday night as well, which was Labor Day. This second show was a shortie, only 28 songs and 3 hours and 35 minutes. Bruce played 14 different songs on Monday than he did on Sunday. The second show had a much different feel and theme than the first show did. Being Labor Day it seemed as though Bruce wanted to play a show for the working man. He opened the show with an acoustic version of “Factory”, “Adam Raised a Cain”, “Streets of Fire”, “Prove it all Night”, and “Something in the Night” followed by a very strange and diverse set list which included songs from his very first album as well as the seldom played, “The River”. It was this point in the show that brought it home for me; Bruce had taken a sign out of the crowd as a request from a young woman up front to play the song, “The River” for her husband. It was a very emotional and touching point in the show, especially as they put video of her on the screen behind the band. The band closed the show with the masterpiece epic “Jungleland”, “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out”, and “American-land”.
All in all Bruce put on two amazing shows for one of the first towns that accepted him back in the 1970’s.
As I said before, going to see bands play their music live is one of my favorite things to do. Nothing beats the raw energy, the spontaneity, the emotion, the joy, and the candidness of a live show. In today’s world of tough economic times, foreclosure, unemployment, and just overall daily stress; sometimes people need an escape. I find that no matter how tough the times are, how stressed out I am, when I go to a concert (especially a Bruce concert) I can stand there in my place and let all that stuff go for the 3 hours the band is on stage and just be happy.