"Our most ancient metaphor says life is a journey. Memoir is travel writing, then, notes taken along the way, telling how things looked and what thoughts occurred. . . .This is the traveler who goes on foot, living the journey, taking on mountains, enduring deserts, marveling at the lush green places...as a pilgrim, seeking, wondering." -Patricia Hampl

March 08, 2008

The Boss Returns to Rochester

IMG_9535-2March 6 / Rochester, NY / Blue Cross Arena

There's simply nothing like a Springsteen concert: not even my beloved Dylan can move me toward the frenzy we all experienced the other night, downtown. I was first turned on to the magic (pun intented, Boss fans) of an E-Street Band show a few years ago, when the tour came to Fenway Park. Heath and I were lucky to catch a show in the first leg of the "Magic" tour in Cleveland in November, when Patti was with the band (she's now at home with the kids) and Danny Federici was still well enough to tour. The following reviews are from backstreets.com and our local paper, respectively:

Notes: Last time the E Street Band played here, five years ago this month, they tour-debuted "Fire." This time, it was "come sit by my fire," as an impromptu "Rosalita" came out in Rochester, purely by request. In the encore, after a young girl held up a "Rosalita, Please" sign for much of the show, Bruce finally said "Gimme that sign," slowly revealed it to a losing-their-shit crowd, and launched into a rough-and-tumble version of the Wild & Innocent classic with the sign propped against the mic stand the entire time. And that that was just the icing on the cake of an intensely high energy show, a perfect synergy of performer, audience, setlist, and setting.

"Is this a new building or an old building?" Bruce asked the crowd. "Old building!" "Yeah, I thought so... old buildings are still the best buildings." And he rocked it by packing the main set solid: "Night" to open; "Jackson Cage" added between "Lonesome Day" and "Gypsy Biker"; two barnburners -- "Because the Night" and an audibled "Loose Ends" -- sandwiched between "Reason" and "She's the One." It's worth starting a new sentence for another of tonight's Moments, "Racing in the Street." And a crowd truly deserving of the "Rosie" boon completed the energy feedback loop. Still no red headed woman -- Patti remains absent from this leg so far -- but damn if they're not getting the dirty job done.

"Rochester number one!" Bruce hollered at the end of the night -- and he's right, this is a contender for best show of the tour so far. "Don't let them tear this building down!"
-Photographs by A.M. Saddler

From the Democrat and Chronicle:

Remember when Mick and Keith and the rest of the Stones were creeping up on 60, and everyone was grousing about how they were too old to rock? Why is it no one ever says that about Bruce Springsteen?

Because they can't. bilde

Thursday's sold-out show at the Blue Cross Arena was only the fourth stop on Springsteen and the E Street Band's 28-city tour, but already these guys are playing like they've been together for 35 years. And most of them have been.

The 58-year-old Springsteen is aging well, and by that I don't mean he's acting like Donovan, a flowered relic from a gone, daddy, gone age. As he's matured, Springsteen has carried his audience — 11,500 on this night — with him.

Yet he still inspires rock euphoria. Who was it that decided that last year's album, Magic, should produce a euphoric, arena-blaster like "Radio Nowhere?" Certainly not radio. Yet two songs into the show, after the opening "Night," the crowd was roaring to lines like "I want a thousand guitars, I want pounding drums."

But the best of Magic is "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," a sublime '60s-style harmony-and-guitar pop song like a forgotten gem from the Left Banke. If this spring we're not hearing that one on the radio. ... Well, nevermind.

Keyboardist Danny Federici, being treated for melanoma, is missing this tour, with Charles Giordano from Springsteen's Seeger Sessions recording and filling in on tour. And Mrs. Springsteen, back-up singer Patti Sciafla, is at home with the three kids. But everything else was in place with the E Street Band: Springsteen, Little Steven Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren on the triple-guitar attack, drummer Max Weinberg, bassist Garry Tallent, pianist Roy Bittan and saxophonist Clarence Clemons.

Springsteen paid tribute to those old days when he reached a few rows deep into the crowd to retrieve a sign that a woman had been waving all night: ROSALITA PLEASE. And play "Rosalita" he did, with the sign propped against his microphone stand before segueing into "Born to Run."

Springsteen could have loaded the set list with such knockout nostalgia. But he didn't. His biggest album, Born in the USA, wasn't even represented. Instead, only nine of the 28 songs during the two-hour, 15-minute set were pre-USA, if you count "Because the Night," which Springsteen wrote but Patti Smith first released. This evening was about what the musician has been up to for the last decade or so, work far more vibrant than the old fans might realize.

There were some cynical songs, like the anti-Iraq war "Last to Die" and "Magic," which Springsteen dedicated to an end to seven years of illusion by the Bush administration. But a shining, upbeat quality prevailed with "The Promised Land," "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" and Springsteen introducing "Livin' in the Future" with a nod to Barack Obama: "I feel a new wind out there."

Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Jackson Cage
Gypsy Biker
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
Loose Ends
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Racing in the Street
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Born to Run
American Land

March 03, 2008

36 Hours in Colorado


The last time I visited Dani, neither of us were propertied and both of us were single, there were no security measures at the airport (aside from the luggage x-ray), and neither of us had held the same job and lived in the same place simultaneously for more than one year.

Here we are: I, married, Dani, engaged (to be married in one month), I'm up for tenure (a sign of steady employment) and Dani's the head of Human Resources for several stores under one company. I'd conjecture that we're old, but since neither of us are grey yet, and we're as goofy as we were in 6th grade, I'll save that theory for another date.

As her Most Honorable Attendant (does anyone like "matron of honor"?), it was my duty and pleasure to visit and, beyond making sure that my Most Outdoorsy Friend actually bought proper shoes for her wedding dress (the truth to be disclosed later), was present to help her put on the frock, practice lacing it up, and of course, celebrate the upcoming nuptials. And to celebrate my first visit in nearly a decade, Dani made sure I was outfitted for a hike through the Rockies. 100_2368 And snowshoeing, to boot (ha ha)!--a first for me, and I'm totally hooked. See for yourself: surrounded snowy peaks, snowy groundcover, and we're bundled up to our ears: imagine our shock to descend from our 10,000 ft. altitude to the parking lot, where it was 75 degrees. Had I layered properly, I'd have stripped to nearly nothing, desperate for the warmth that only sunlight can bestow. But alas, over grilled-cheese sandwiches, I could only roll up my yoga pants, hoping to absorb as much vitamin D as my body could take in. 100_2376

After a brief, fruitless search for some rehearsal dinner threads, we joined Dani's and Larry's friends at Sherpa's restaurant (in Boulder) for some Indian-inspired Tibetan food (I enjoyed a spicy samosa and a Sherpa lamb-stew). Good times, but sadly, not enough time. The following day, my departure day, it snowed enough to rival Rochester: and while I wished I could have stayed, I was lucky to get out of the airport at all. Looking forward to visiting again in a few weeks, for the wedding, with Heath. But I shall have to find us some snowshoes, most definitely.