Tag Archives: Philadelphia

A concert review…kinda…

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.

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Winning.  What is it about winning?  Why does everyone want to win so badly?  Is it just about getting what you want?  Is it really that intrinsically self-centered?  Why is winning synonymous with being happy and losing synonymous with being unhappy?  I sit here on Saturday October 8th, 2011 questioning all these things.  After last night when the Phillies lost a game, and a series that many people expected them to win, I sat there completely annoyed, angry, hurt, disappointed, worried, and basically just sad.  And I wondered to myself, why the hell am I so sad right now?  The obvious answer was of course that the Phillies didn’t win!  But my immediate and subconscious arrival at this answer kind of scared me for a minute.  How is it that 25 guys whom I have never met could have such a profound impact on how I am feeling?  My inquiry here is not to establish why they didn’t win, how they can do more winning, when they will win again, or even whether this team should have won.  I simply am looking to know why am I and every other sports fan so obsessed with the win.

Coming from someone who will readily admit to being the sorest loser in the history of competition, this is not an easy question to answer.  Being a Philadelphia sports fan one would think that I should be quite used to not winning.  Before 2008 our town went 25 years without a championship in any of the 4 major sports.  Technically that’s 100 seasons of losing!  Regardless of that, you can bet your bottom dollar that I was somewhere sulking and probably crying every time one of our teams lost.  Like in ’93 when Carter hit that home run, I was only six but I may or may not have sent Mitch Williams death threats.  Or in 1997 when the Flyers got swept in the Stanley Cup Finals, I literally cried my eyes out.  In 2000 when the Flyers squandered a 3-1 series lead to the Devils with two of the last three games on home ice.  In 2001 when the Sixers beat the Lakers in game 1 of the Finals and conned us into thinking they had a chance in that series.  In 2004, the year we were sure the curse of William Pen would be lifted (T.O.T.O.T.O.) but we still watched Tom Brady and his beautiful hair take another championship up to bean town.  How about in 2009 when we watched the hated Yankees celebrate yet another World Series.  Or even 2010 when that stupid runt Patrick Kane and his cursed mullet celebrated on our home ice!  I remember them all!

So, what is so bad about 2nd place?  Sure as hell beats 3rd or 4th.  It definitely beats not making the playoffs at all (cough cough Mets and Braves).  But seriously, what is it that is so bad about losing that it caused hundreds of Vancouver Canucks fans to literally try to destroy their beautiful city after a game 7 loss.  Or in Chicago where the blame an entire NLCS loss on a dude in a green turtle neck and headphones (it’s ok Steve you can come out of hiding now).  How about in almost every major city worldwide that has a soccer, excuse me, football team that take to the streets in riots every time their team loses.  Or here in Philadelphia where people actually sent Mitch Williams death threats after the 1993 World Series.

Is it expectations?  Is it worse when our team is expected to win the World Series and they end up losing in the first round?  Sitting here watching the Cardinals celebrate on our home field I am tempted to say yes.  But only until I look back to 2010 when the Flyers lost in the Stanley Cup Finals.  The Flyers were not favored to win the Stanley Cup that year but their magical run through the playoffs made us hope that they could pull off the seemingly impossible.  But what about hope?  Whenever we are watching the game we always have hope that our team can pull through and find a way to win until that final horn sounds or the final out is recorded.  I am willing to bet that 99% of all the Phillies fans (and I mean the real fans, not you posers who jumped on board after 2008) still had hope in the bottom of the 9th on Friday with Chase Utley, Hunter Pence, and Ryan Howard coming to the plate.  And when they didn’t produce all that hope had to go somewhere and for most of us it turned to frustration and despair. And as sad as we all are right now, next October we’ll still be here ready to cheer on our Fightins once again.

Maybe there is some sort of strange genius behind the phrase “There’s always next year”.  Maybe I’ll never quite get the answer to my question about why we want to win so badly.  I don’t know why I love winning, I just do.  Winning is more than bragging rights and glory.  It’s more than the final score and the trophy.  I surely hope it’s more than what Charlie Sheen has.  Winning has a way of making us forget all the bad times and just be – happy.  It’s the only thing that allowed the Red Sox fans to forgive Bill Buckner after twenty years.  It’s the only thing that allowed Phillies fans to forgive Mitch Williams after 15 years.  It’s the thing that makes Cubs fans hate Steve Bartman, black cats, and …goats?  It’s the only thing that can make me forget about all the losing seasons, the blown series, Mitch Williams, Joe Jurevius, Patrick Kane, Brian Wilson, Kobe Bryant, Patrick Kane’s mullet, Joe Carter, and the Detroit Red Wings.  That one October night in 2008 when we stood outside Citizen’s Bank Park in the freezing cold huddled under a tent, that night I had been waiting for – for 21 years to arrive.  That night that I would wait another 21 years just to experience again.  And Bud Selig told us to go home because it was raining too hard.  So we came back two nights later and all of our hopes and dreams and faithfulness were rewarded.  There is only one thing that could make a bunch of crazy fools stand outside in the freezing rain watching baseball on a 30 inch television — Winning.

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