Amy, as I mentioned, I’ve been struggling with writing a review of the Kansas City Bruce concert Greg, Justin and I attended a week ago on Feb 18th.
Reviewing the performance is easy, and nobody thinks for an instant that I’m objective on this topic.
Saturday night was my 12th Springsteen concert since I was “converted” on June 14 of 1978. I have been an active member of the faithful since, witnessing to the greatness of the writing, music and performance aspects of the artist always known as Bruce Springsteen. 45 years burning down the road.
The KC show was everything I anticipated and promised people it would be. Just another stellar demonstration by a jedi showman whose reputation for live shows is at the apex of the industry. Most live acts are cars with varying feature sets—but essentially they all are engines that take you someplace. Bruce Springsteen is a starship with a warp drive that takes passengers to new worlds.
It lasted around 3 hours covering “only” 25 songs. Bruce worked the sold-out crowd with new and established bits: handing out guitar pics, giving away his harmonica, walking through the crowd at the front of the stage, doing a “more cowbell” joke, leading the audience in an anti-covid chant (just 8 shows into the tour, Covid has been knocking down members of the band. Fortunately, all are bouncing back).
Synergy. Community. From the first song to the last, the crowd and I sang along loudly to every word, fist pumping, clapping, seated dancing, standing dancing, BRUUUUUUUUCING before and after the show. A sonic expression of shared joy. It was wonderful. Magical. It was… Bruce.
Was it extraordinary? Not for Bruce. (Have I been unclear? If you do not have “Seeing Springsteen live” on your bucket list. Your bucket list is flawed).
Is there a “But” coming? You know me Amy, there is always a “but” coming.
But as I looked around the room I had to concede the steady advance of time. Not the three-hour show—that flew by, but all the grey. Up on stage, Bruce, most of the band, the audience, there were a lot of old people in every direction. And I was one of them.
The setlist and the stories surrounding them were a summary of a life of creation, a body of work, a sampling of five decades of music brilliance. His art has always been about our life journey. We get out onto the road, and we ride. The ride takes us through love, sadness, joy, pain, betrayal, hope, faith—-life. And at some point the ride must come to an end. The theme of that night, this tour, more than ever was about seizing the day. In every show this tour he utters some slight variation of these words:
“At 15, it’s all tomorrows. At 73, it’s a whole lot of yesterdays—-and goodbyes. That’s why you’ve got to make the most of right NOW!”
This isn’t a goodbye tour—I believe Bruce will keep creating until the pen falls from his calloused fingers. This tour is about right now. No fear of the clock. No focus on the grey. No surrender.
This tour rages against the dying of the light.