Bruce in Cape Town -Review of Tues Show

Tuesday night at the Bellville Velodrome – a fancy word for an indoor cycle track and therefore a venue small enough for me to have been able to see perfectly from around half way back as I alternated my watching between the stage itself and the screen behind and on each side of it (by no means always showing the same image) – Bruce Springsteen played the second of three Cape Town nights, the first, Sunday, having been added after the Tuesday and Wednesday sold out, to the kind of packed house that is just large enough to make a seriously loud noise, but not so large that you felt disconnected from the performer.

The statistics will at least give you a clue. Springsteen promised the full E Street Band, but I’m never quite sure what that means anymore, the outfit having expanded considerably since the Glory Days. Well, we got Springsteen and 17 others. The core survivors were all there, Roy Bittan on piano, the Garry Tallent/Max Weinberg rhythm section (Weinberg is as mighty and relentless on the drums in real life as he always seems on film) and, praise be, Steve Van Zandt, who joined Nils Lofgren and Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave etc) in a spectacular guitar front line. Deceased members Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici are remembered in a video collage that accompanies 10th Avenue Freeze Out. Clemons’s nephew Jake now takes on the principal saxophonic work, and he is joined by a four man horn section (primarily two trumpets, trombone and another sax that plays a terrific baritone solo at one point). Charles Giordano is on organ and accordion, with Soozie Tyrell on violin and backing vocals, and then there are another three backing vocalists (not counting Little Steven, taking a break from his TV acting job for this leg of the tour at least, who is often virtually a second lead singer as Springsteen regularly yells out “Steve” and the two share a microphone like it was forty yeaqrs ago and still Asbury Park). And, when they’re not blasting out horn or vocal lines, everybody in those sections is hitting, shaking or rattling some or other percussive device.

They played 27 songs in just a touch under three hours with half the set altered from Sunday (and it seems that last night – Wednesday – more than half the set was new to this tour), with no break and hardly any talking. (Springsteen talked a bit about Nelson Mandela and Pete Seeger, who had died the day before, and played the Special AKA’s Nelson Mandela as an opener and an acoustic We Shall Overcome towards the end for them, but we had none of those long tales of growing up in New Jersey that used to be such an important part of the songs themselves – of course, he was younger then, and playing for up to four and a half hours at a stretch.)

Kicking off with the unaccompanied chorus of “Free Nelson Mandela! Free, free, free Nelson Mandela! certainly got the crowd’s immediate attention and the chattering horn riff turned us (even me) into dancing fools for pretty much the entire duration of the concert. The comparative play lists, which can be found at http://www.setlist.fm/setlists/bruce-springsteen-2bd6dcce.html, suggest that Tuesday night was generally more up tempo than Sunday. For example, we didn’t get The River or The Ghost Of Tom Joad, or, for that matter, the solo acoustic Thunder Road, but we did get a truly anthemic Darkness On The Edge Of Town and a blistering Promised Land.

Most of the big songs were lined up and delivered with remarkable enthusiasm and aplomb (given the number of times he must have played them) as part of an extended encore, much of which took place with the house lights turned on. Apparently Bruce likes to have this visual connection with his audience. He also ventures into the crowd several times to glad hand and knowingly point fingers at random audience members in that American TV host way that suggests that they actually know the person at whom they’re pointing. He crowd-surfs a little and chooses people to dance on stage during Dancing In The Dark. Oddly, given my usual distaste for overt rock star antics, I didn’t mind this at all. In fact, it added immensely to a celebratory feel that took hold early on and hardly let up for a moment. And the songs don’t suffer or become unnecessarily protracted during these interludes. And, thank all that is sacred, he didn’t keep asking us if we were having a good time!

The energy generated throughout is extraordinary, not only from Springsteen’s own excursions and exertions, but from Morello’s space rock guitar effects, Lofgren’s one legged dervish-whirling during a guitar solo (though he’s now a bit old to do the standing back flips anymore), Weinberg’s monumental drumming, Van Zandt’s very presence, and a dozen more places. It may have reached its peak on an astonishing version of Open All Night that transformed Nebraska’s solo rockabilly into huge, raging, saxophonic bar-walking classic Kansas City R&B, only with a bigger band and better sound.

The sound itself was excellent, although I thought, as things wore on (and the sound guys, perhaps like the audience, but not like Springsteen and the band who seemed to outlast even the most enthusiastic punter, wore out just a little) that the clarity became a little blurred in favour of a Spectorish wall of sound, and bits of feedback crept in. Or it might just, by that stage, have been my ears.

We all expected those big songs I mentioned and he played Born In The USA, Born To Run, Badlands. Spirit in The Night, The Rising etc, as he seems always to do, but if anyone is looking for a reason why Springsteen continues to be anything but an oldies act churning out inch perfect (if never less than superior) versions of his hits, it’s the songs in between that are most telling. He did Trapped, for heaven’s sake, a much altered Jimmy Cliff song that was initially only available on an ’80s single, and it was superb. And he closed, after the band had left, the house lights were on and the drunks near me were standing with their backs to the stage shouting to each other over the song as if Jon Landau’s erstwhile “rock and roll future” was just the background music at their local bar or braai (it was Bellville after all – remember the old bad driving joke … “come to Bellville and CY” … well, I went to Bellville and saw why), with a solo, acoustic guitar and harmonica This Hard Land, another relatively unknown song, a Born In The USA outtake from the recently reissued and pretty well essential Tracks box set of versions and rarities that first came out at the end of the ’90s.

Other highlights? There were plenty, including fabulous versions of The Ties That Bind and American Skin (41 Shots), but I’m not sure how it’s possible to better the stomping, gospel-wailing, horn-blasting version of Shackled And Drawn, with Van Zandt on what looked like some kind of electric banjo. You want roots to go with your rock? Springsteen has them in spades! I’d have gone again the very next day if I’d been able to.

By Richard Haslop

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The Boss -29 January 2013 -this was the show 3rd night in Cape Town

It was beyond anything I could have imagined, in every aspect, and much much more. The band, the songs, the showmanship, the lyrics, quality, the arrangement, fuckinhell, The Boss!

I think we know where he gets the title from.

We had Mos Def on stage ,We had a wedding proposal on stage and 3 hours of bliss ending with
an acoustic version of Thunder Road -Solo by the Boss

better than U2 yes! -Springsteen

Better than U2 yes!!!

Going again tonight.

When he did No Surrender as the 2nd song as a request via a card board cut out ,I almost bust into tears ..Brought back memories of when my mom passed away in 2001

19 musicians on stage

It was a mind blast.

You did not need lights or shitty dancers this was all about the music and great great songs .

We had rock ,we had blues we had funk it had everything.

Oude Libertas Amphitheater for Sipho Mabuse show on Sunday 2nd Feb 2014

The Amphitheater is a fantastic setting with a seated area and then a picnic area up above

The shows are intimate and you get really close to the perfromance

Sipho will perform a 90 min set with in the 1st half will explore his jazz influences and love .

The second half will include the classics including Burnout which is 30 years old this year.The song has beome part of the musical fabric of South Africa.

The Grammy Awards – youngsters have watched too much TV and believe it’s all about production.

On to the Super Bowl!

That’s the shelf life of an ersatz awards show these days. The fawning press, part of the sell-out gravy train, casts no critical eye, the public tweets its snarkiness, and by breakfast we’re done with the Pop Tart and on to something new.

Blame Neil Portnow. Blame Ken Ehrlich.

But don’t blame anybody as much as the acts.

The youngsters have watched too much TV and believe it’s all about production.

The oldsters are thrilled just to get some airtime, extending their moment in the sun just a little bit further, making the geriatrics aware of their existence, possibly motivating them to come out in their wheelchairs for one more show.

Speaking of the show…

Will someone tell Beyonce that song is not a hit?

And while they’re at it, tell Keith Urban too.

If you’re gonna get all that exposure, just play what people want to hear. To try and promote your new track is too shortsighted. You’ve got to remind people why they care in the first place.

Kind of like McCartney. He did a decent take of a mediocre cut from his already gone album. Huh? I can understand being burned out on the Beatles classics, but couldn’t you at least do some Wings? Or “Say Say Say” with Stevie Wonder playing Michael Jackson’s part?

And why can no one perform solo anymore? Did I miss the memo and are duets de rigueur? Then again, every cut has multiple writers and a rapper to spice it up.

But really. This train-wreck/mash-up paradigm has gotten out of control.

Although it was funny to see how far Robin Thicke has fallen. From the song of the summer to being upstaged by Miley Cyrus to becoming the foil for Chicago. What’s next, dinner theatre?

And speaking of venues… When is Pink gonna join Cirque du Soleil? Her acrobatics have nothing to do with music. And now she’s even defying gravity ON stage. And didn’t she do this circus act at the Grammys once before?

Oh, where do we start.

With Beyonce and Jay Z.

She already had her moment at the Super Bowl. It’d be like Prince doing halftime once again. We’ve seen the act, we’re not gonna be wowed again.

And don’t you hate it when royalty feels entitled?

Well, not as much as you laugh when Taylor Swift mouths every lyric and geekily dances in the front row when everybody behind her is sitting down.

And Katy Perry… Are you really that insecure? That you need so many trappings? Just get out and SING! And while you’re at it, sing your hit, the one you were nominated for, “Roar.” Nobody cares about your substandard second single.

And did you see Les Moonves’s face in the crowd? This is the one percent in action. You’re not a star Les, the fact that we’re exposed to your punim demonstrates everything that’s wrong with America. Do I get airtime at the CBS stock show?

Let me even try and remember who else…

Hunter Hayes. A whole lot of nothing. And to think he got airtime when people were still awake.

Oh, now I get it, you think I can’t stop complaining.

I will say that I loved hearing “Okie From Muskogee.” Those ancient country crooners didn’t need no damn production.

Nor did Daft Punk. “Get Lucky” was the highlight of the evening. Not because the performance was so good, but because we were all caught up in the joy of the track, reminding ourselves of the power of music to take us away. Hell, just to hear Nile Rodgers play that chunky riff for minutes was enough. They do call it music, you know.

And Madonna… Did you hurt yourself skiing? Why the cane? That’s right, you can’t avoid the spotlight, and the Grammys can’t say no.

As for Macklemore… A stunningly good rendition of a song the kids know but didn’t see because they were already asleep.

And Trent’s pissed that they cut him off, but really, did anybody in attendance, never mind those at home, want to see a bombastic melange of NIN/QOTSA/FOOS?

No.

It works live for those who care.

But we were watching on TV and most don’t, care that is.

Kind of like Imagine Dragons with Kendrick Lamar. I’m watching the flat screen knowing this kind of spectacle wows live, but at home it looked like a bad birthday party.

As for the awards themselves…

How great is it that “Get Lucky” won? This ain’t no Steely Dan, no Herbie Hancock, the Daft Punk song was one of the biggest of the year, I’m happy.

As for the album…

Has anybody heard it? I played it a bunch. You don’t need to. Most people did not. The Grammys keep rewarding albums no one listens to, it’s a singles world.

And “Royals.” Last time I checked “Song of the Year” was about the underlying composition, which theoretically could be performed by anybody. But “Royals” is nothing so much as a record.

Will we hear from Lorde again? Probably before Macklemore!

And speaking of the Best New Artist… That was a closed category, Lorde had it sewn up. But I guess they’ll have to tweak the category once again, to ensure the right people are nominated.

And I give Kacey Musgraves props. I was right, I said she had a good chance of winning! Probably because the rest of the nominees canceled each other out. But her performance paled in comparison to the one by the Civil Wars a few years back. It just wasn’t…magical.

And there you have it. That’s what the show lacked. Magic.

It wasn’t that it was bad.

Oh, it started off really bad. But then it righted itself and wobbled to the end, but there wasn’t one single memorable moment. At least this is something that MTV has right.

And there are too many categories. And the desperation is palpable. And it’s clear that music doesn’t live on TV, but at the club, in your house and on the radio in your car. The youngsters demonstrate they ain’t got it live and the oldsters show us they haven’t written a good song in eons. And we don’t even get to comment because unlike the burgeoning Golden Globes, CBS refuses to simulcast the Grammys at the same time in every time zone. So I already knew who won when I tuned in.

We live in an all inclusive world, and they left us out.

What can I say about a show that was trumped by a Pepsi commercial?

That advertisers know it’s about creativity and excellence, and you never fumble your big opportunity.

Musical artists and Grammy executives?

They shoot for the middle.

And the middle is nowhere.

by Bob Lefsetz

Set list from last night Springsteen show 26/01/13

The only man who was “Born to Run hits” Bellville tonight -BRUUUUUUUCE Springsteen

Thanks for coming six days latter after my 50th Bruce !

Read the book last year .on my 49th… now seeing him live this week ..cool 50th B day present

Rehearsal pic by Joe Lopez from brucespringsteen.net

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