Sunday, March 06, 2016

Thunder Up the Road: Springsteen's River Tour Rolls On Majestically in Milwaukee -- Concert Review

Concert Review

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee
March 3, 2016

Talk about an unnecessary review.

It's not as though Bruce Springsteen is a newcomer on the music scene, a little known entity needing to be described as the future of rock 'n roll.

And it's as if Seth Saith visitors couldn't have already seen abundant testament to my love of Springsteen, from past concert reviews (1, 2, 3, 4)--all of which bestowed @@@@@--album reviews (1, 2), imagined albums, cherished remembrances and posts ranking him as my favorite musical artist and the best concert act.

I have now seen Springsteen live 46 times, including 40 times backed by the E Street Band, and counting Thursday night, 9 times in having made the trek to Milwaukee from my home near Chicago.

Just 6 weeks ago, I saw the Chicago stop of his The River Tour--on which he's playing his 1980 double album in full each night, plus other material--and, shockingly, gave it a @@@@@ review.

So not only is it entirely redundant on a macro level for me to spend much of my time--or ask for yours--to relay that Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band are, still, absolutely phenomenal in concert, on a micro level, 28 of the 33 songs I heard at the BMO Harris Bradley Center were the same as those recently heard at the United Center.

So I won't prolong this, especially as you can see at top that I am again awarding @@@@@.

And while I can tell you that, in addition to finding The River in full even more enjoyable a second time around, I was absolutely thrilled to hear "Badlands," "Because The Night," "Jungleland" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" among the selections that rotate from show to show, I realize this is only going to matter if you were there, or are likewise a Boss aficionado who doesn't need much convincing.

But, particularly for anyone who might wonder why I see Springsteen so many times, here's the thing.

Although I have undoubtedly seen Bruce deliver even better shows than the one on Thursday night, in the there-and-now it felt among the best I had ever seen.

3 hours and 20 minutes, nonstop, by a 66-year-old guy with a band just as grizzled. And to my ears, every note was perfect, from River rockers like "The Ties That Bind," "Jackson Cage," "Out in the Street," "Cadillac Ranch" and more, to scintillating character studies like "Point Blank," "Stolen Car" and "Drive All Night."

At about the 2 hour mark, when "Wreck on the Highway" concluded The River playthrough, I said to my friend Paolo that I could pretty much go home happy having heard just the album--originally sequenced to replicate the feel of a concert--and the single, show-opening outtake (of dozens released on the recent The Ties That Bind: The River Collection box set) "Meet Me in the City."

But then, on a day when a job interview was frustratingly cancelled at the last minute, and I had even posted on Facebook that I would love to hear it but didn't expect to, came "Badlands."

"For the ones who had a notion 
A notion deep inside 
That it ain't no sin 
To be glad you're alive 
Wanna find one face 
That ain't looking through me 
Wanna find one place 
I wanna spit in the face of these 

Badlands, you gotta live it everyday 
Let the broken hearts stand 
As the price you've gotta pay 
Keep pushin' till it's understood 
These Badlands start treating us good"

Yes, I sang along loudly.

And then to "No Surrender," "Lonesome Day," "Because the Night" and a mindblowing "Jungleland," followed by "The Rising," "Thunder Road," "Born to Run," "Dancing in the Dark," "Rosalita," "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" and a show-closing cover of "Shout."

Even from the second-to-last row of the Bradley Center, it was perfect (save for the moron jabbering away in the last row).

That's why I go to see Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band so often.

Because every time it feels as fantastic as ever.

And in a world in which this or that can often disappoint, The Boss never does.

Whoever your hero is, I hope he or she makes you as happy--and nourished--as mine does me. 


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