The Boss Pile Drives into Perth.

Springsteen Concert Perth 7 February 2014

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Pile driving rock and blues for the blue collar worker – the miner, the truckie, the factory hand and every financially strapped mum and dad the world over. This guy cares, this guy knows the hard road and mate, can this sucker rock!

The show started late and given his propensity for three hour shows, I wondered how he’d cope with noise curfews – simple, they never stopped for an interval. Three hours later, soaked in sweat, Springsteen finished acoustically, alone, the band had left the stage, but somehow these final songs, including an astounding acoustic version of Thunder Road, were even more powerful than the full on kick ass sledge hammer of the 18 piece rock band. Speaking of which, my only complaint would be that the sound techs had wound it up too loud for the first couple of hours, to the point where Springsteen’s voice was distorted. They obviously backed things off in the final hour, still incredibly loud (ears constantly ringing 12 hours later!) but crystal clear.

I’ll leave it to others to talk of exact set lists, suffice to say, the band’s repertoire is enormous and incredibly rehearsed, several times, Springsteen took posters from audience members with song requests on them, showed the poster to the band and they inevitably segued straight into the requested song. You’ve also got to dip your lid to his lyric memory, as far as I could see, there was no auto cue.

The stand out feel of the night, something I’ve never experienced to this extent in any other concert, even surpassing Leonard Cohen, was the empathy and involvement this man has with his audience. He is that working class hero, who has never turned his back on his roots. The audience adores him and he loves them, it’s that simple. Several times he wandered through the audience, singing, shaking hands, high-fiving and laughing. He’d met a little boy while swimming at the beach the day before and the little tyke had sung a song for him, Springsteen had him at the show, called him up, sat down centre stage with him and got him to sing the song again, before hoisting him on his shoulders and dancing him back to mum and dad. Later, he invited several audience members up on stage to dance, even handing guitars to two of them. At one stage, after he’s been handed a bag full of Aussie stuff, including Vegemite, he crowd surfed back to the stage. I can’t imagine Mick Jagger ever trusting the crowd to that extent, the Stones are fantastic live, but they don’t do blood, sweat, tears and laughter with their audience like the Boss does.

It was interesting to hear my partner’s reaction, whilst she knows and likes Springsteen’s hits, she’s never been a fan as such. Suddenly she found herself plunged into the unique world of Springsteen – sledge hammer rock and roll with stories of American working people. She loved it, loved the power-house band and loved his genuine empathy for his audience.

This man is Rock’s answer to Steinbeck and Salinger, he paints vivid searing images of American life, no air brushing, no holds bared, no prisoners – from Born in the USA, a song people often misinterpret as a jingoistic chant, rather than the bleak criticism it really is:

I’m ten years burning down the road
Nowhere to run ain’t got nowhere to go”

through My Home Town:

They’re closing down the textile mill across the rail road tracks

Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back to

Your hometown, your hometown, your hometown, your hometown”

There are times when Springsteen sounds like Dylan and of course, there should be homage, Dylan broke the mould, melding songs of the people with electric guitar, but Springsteen takes it in a different direction, the sneering, snarling, viper like brilliance of Dylan is replaced with equally brilliant cries for help and pleas to understand what life is like on the factory floor, the rented house, or the drought-ridden farm. In a way, it’s still folk music.

The parts are the sweat of an honest working bloke, the love and empathy of a war zone nurse, the words of an Arthur Miller and the rock and blues of Presley and Diddley. The sum is Springsteen. He IS The Boss – one of us done good.

There were so many moments, including the play between Springsteen and the lovely guitar and violin playing lady, who I mistakenly thought was Patti Scialfa, (Springsteen’s wife), my thanks to Paul O’Neil for pointing out that it’s actually Soozie Tyrell, but a couple stand out just a fraction amongst the brilliance, High Hopes with Van Zandt and Morello’s guitar on The Ghost of Tom Joad. Try to imagine pile driving rock and roll, the auditorium shaking and The Boss singing, screaming, crying:

Now Tom said “Mom, wherever there’s a cop beatin’ a guy 

Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries 

Where there’s a fight ‘gainst the blood and hatred in the air 
Look for me Mom I’ll be there 
Wherever there’s somebody fightin’ for a place to stand 
Or decent job or a helpin’ hand 
Wherever somebody’s strugglin’ to be free 
Look in their eyes Mom you’ll see me.” 

Glory Days, The Boss is with us.

PS: We bought the USB stick – a great idea, $40.00 and 72hrs after the concert, you can download the actual concert you attended.

 

 

 

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