October 14, 2004

Vote For Bruce

Last night I went to the one and only New York area date of the “Vote For Change” tour, as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band headlined a show at Continental Arena that also featured John Fogarty, Jackson Browne, Bruce’s wife Patti Scialfa, and a few special guests.

The tour is aimed at getting Dubya out of office, and while I do support that cause, I was a bit pensive about contributing the generally sleazy MoveOn.org, as well as with spending time with the sort of element that tends to frequent such events. But still- it’s Bruce, in New Jersey, and what could be better than that? Some stream-of-consciousness observations on the night:

- Now perhaps it was because everyone in the lineup of acts was north of age 50, but the crowd was much more of a Springsteen crowd than a MoveOn.org crowd- exactly the sort of clientele you’d expect to see at the lone Bruce show on the tour. Furthermore, I probably saw fewer Kerry shirts than I did Yankees jerseys, and these were for people who had decided to spend the night not watching Game 2.

- When I saw a guy in the parking lot pop open a Shasta-style half-can of Budweiser, I knew we had an authentic Jersey crowd, although as with most Springsteen concerts, it appeared the only African-American in the building was Clarence Clemons.

- Everyone in my row was checking the Yankees’ score on their cell phones and radios throughout the show, but no one seemed particularly concerned with how the presidential debate was going.

- If the Protest Warriors had shown up, they’d have had very little work with, because I saw few-to-no anti-Bush signs or t-shirts, and even people wearing Bush paraphernalia without incident. One girl wore an “Abort Bush” shirt, which reminded me of how someone spraypainted “Abort Dukakis” on a highway overpass in Minneapolis during the ’88 campaign, and it stayed there for more than ten years.

- Not sure if this is only for concerts, but Continental Arena has no championship banners up for the Nets or Devils, but does have one hanging from the rafters commemorating Bruce’s 15 sold-out shows in ’99, next to the Seton Hall flags. And for some reason there was no American flag hanging next to the scoreboard, although there was a Canadian flag. Must be ‘cause it’s a hockey arena.

- Aside from a few songs that were tangentially about Bush, and a speech or two by Bruce towards the end, the show was refreshingly free of political sanctimony, except from videotaped messages from various participants in the tour that ran between sets. One of them featured commentary by Max Weinberg- and I must say that after ten years of seeing him appear in Conan skits in his persona as an unreconstructed pervert, it’s hard to take his political commentary seriously.

- Patti Scialfa got the festivities going with a generally uninspired set, provoking the best heckle of the night: “No more Bruce’s wife! Vote For Change!

- Jackson Browne’s set wasn’t so great either, although it came alive when Little Steven, and then Bruce himself, came out for duets. Then again, I’ve been a classic rock fan all my life, and even after last night I’m not sure I can name more than two Jackson Browne songs.

- Bruce and E Street came out next, starting with an incredible 1-2-3 punch of “Born in the USA,” “Badlands,” and “Lonesome Day.” Then Eddie Vedder came out for a surprise appearance, joining the band on the Kerry theme song “No Surrender” and then “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” before Vedder and the band sang Pearl Jam’s “Better Man”- unquestionably the evening’s highlight.

- John Fogarty then entered the festivities, joining E Street on the Bush-bashing anthem “Fortunate Son” before segueing into his new song “Déjà Vu.” My lord does Fogarty look old- ever notice how rock stars age differently than the rest of us? Not sure if it’s the drugs, plastic surgery, or whatever else, but have you ever met a 60-year-old who looks anything like Fogarty, Dylan, or Neil Young?

- Instead of introducing the band like he usually does, Bruce went into a political speech about how he was sitting at his breakfast table, saw in the paper that New Jersey is a swing state, and shouted “get me to the Meadowlands!” A funny rant in which he sounded more like Lewis Black than himself. This concluded with an awesome “Born to Run” which I thought closed the show, but…

- The Dude would’ve been happy, as Fogarty returned for a Bruce-backed set of Creedance classics, including “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” and “Travelin’ Band.” It was with great disappointment that the performance of “Proud Mary” did not include a surprise appearance by Ike Turner.

- The show closed at about 12:30 with all of the above performing both “What’s So Funny (About Peace, Love, and Understanding)” and “People Have the Power.” Always something to have eight guitars together on one stage.

- All in all a great show despite the lackluster first two hours. Although one highlight was when we were walking through the corridor between Continental Arena and the Giants Stadium parking lot, and hundreds of people began singing “Thunder Road” spontaneously.

Posted by Stephen Silver at October 14, 2004 11:24 PM

Hi, I was the one who got steve the ticket and went to the concert with him...
Anyways, I agree will 99percent of this post. The concert was AWESOME!!! But the singing on the way back to the parking lot was not good. I told steve if he didnt stop I was going to pretend I didn't know him.
Viva la Bruce!!!

Posted by: A at October 14, 2004 11:30 PM

I saw that "abort Dukakis" thing probably more than a thousand times over the course of living in SLP.

Posted by: Jeremy Wahlman at October 15, 2004 11:22 AM

Give please. An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
I am from Qatar and too poorly know English, give please true I wrote the following sentence: "Skins bring an stunning boys department and a organization of pro-life streetcars - in 2008 spilling dizzee rascal and lesley garrett."

Waiting for a reply :), Devlin.

Posted by: Devlin at September 6, 2009 07:03 AM
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