Friday, 26 November 2010

My Bruce Journey - Part 47

'And at night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet, it's a pretty good song maybe you know the rest'

Well this week was a Gaslight Anthem fest.

To fill lulls in between Bruce tours Mike and I tend to explore other Jersey Shore artists.  We embraced Joe Grushecky and Southside Johnny early on then later Jesse Malin. More of this in another week.

We also try out any bands who cite Bruce as an influence, anyone who Bruce might mention he listens to and we often check out artists who have done a decent cover of any of Bruce’s songs.  In this way we get to hear new music (well new to us) without straying too far from the Main Man.  Some stuff we like - some we don’t.

Anyway because of this we were well into The Gaslight Anthem before Bruce turned up on stage with them during Glastonbury and started a bit of a furore in Springsteen circles.

We went to Hyde Park - the draw of The Gaslight Anthem and Bruce on the same bill was too much to resist.  Our second sighting was in June this year - mentioned in a previous blog - but this week we have seen them twice.  We just had to go and support the lads in our home town of Leeds and after booking this we were persuaded to join our friends in Dublin last weekend.  To be fair we didn’t take much persuading.

As two people who always sit at Bruce concerts it’s ironic that for one reason or another we have ended up standing at all The Gaslight concerts except Dublin.  Hyde park was a festival anyway.  At Brixton we stood way at the back but in Leeds we were almost front and centre.  Definitely the oldest in that part of the venue we did our best to look as if moshing came naturally to us!

The sound was amazingly clear if a bit loud and the atmosphere was fabulous.  I really enjoyed it but not sure if I would want to be quite so near the mosh pit in the future.  Being drenched in beer isn’t really my thing.

Three days later at 9.00am we were sat in Starbucks on Dawson Street in Dublin.  It was an early start and the weather was a bit changeable.  I had printed off a list of 20 things to do in Dublin which turned out to be mainly places to eat.  Breakfast/brunch being a priority we picked a couple of these places and set off. Traditionally, whenever we do this sort of thing, it falls flat and today was no exception.  The first place looked like it would be opening that day but not any time soon.  The second place was boarded up!

Luckily on our way we had passed a likely looking cafe boasting the best breakfast in town so we headed there for a sit down, a full Irish and a pot of tea.
The afternoon was spent resting in the hotel - the last room at the end of a long corridor - also a tradition when we go away.  We needed to be ready for an evening meeting up with friends to watch the rugby, have a drink or two and something to eat.  A good night was had by all although Ireland lost the rugby. A couple of pints of Guinness were consumed followed later by a bit of the Irish stew and some Irish sausages.

Sunday we spent the day sightseeing and met up at The Thunder Road CafĂ© for a meal before the gig.  We met more new friends - Hi Lorcan and Adrienne, Eamon and Declan.  The place, the company and the food were fabulous - much talk of The Promise of course.

Then we headed off to The Olympia Theatre.

Mike and I were keen to see Chuck Ragan who supported The Gaslight Anthem in Leeds and was here again.  We were sitting in the balcony this time.  Another great gig but the sound wasn’t quite so good and I don’t believe how people can’t sit down for more than a couple of songs - up for a drink, up for the loo, up for another drink.  Oh and the bloke two rows in front of me kept leaning in to his mate to chat meaning that I had to dodge from side to side to see.  Worse I couldn’t get in a decent position to take any photos!!! and you had to be quick because there was a bit of a jobsworth about stopping us getting out the cameras.

After the gig

Saw the tour bus on the way back from the pub.  Well it was a coach with Rockstar something or other on the side - possibly one of these - parked outside the venue.  There were still people outside the stage door. Considered joining them but it was cold, wet, late and I am too old.  There is only one person I would hang around for….

So on our last day, Monday, tipped off by Ceinwen, we went to Tower Records and bought ‘Land of Hope and Dreams’

Tower Records
I had just never got around to ordering it and, as it is about Bruce’s Irish gigs, Dublin seemed the perfect place to make my purchase.  We don’t feature in the book ourselves but both Ceinwen and Sinead make contributions.  See more and buy the book here.

Many years after Slane Castle the combination of Bruce and Ireland worked it’s magic on the two of us. Until our Dublin trip for the Working On A Dream tour we had been two people travelling around together to see Bruce.  After Dublin we made new friends and became part of a much bigger Springsteen community which is growing by the day.

Don’t get me wrong we were happy being just the two of us but the friends we have made have encouraged us to do things we may not have done and see places we may not have seen without them.  They will be friends for life and we look forward to meeting them all again soon.

So thank you Ireland, thank you to our Bruce buddies and of course thank you Bruce.

A special thank you also goes out to our great friends back at home - Jacquie and Mike because without them we couldn’t go anywhere - they look after our Wellington when we go away.

Friday, 19 November 2010

My Bruce Journey - Part 46

The way you sooth me when I'm in pain.  The way you make the blood rush in my veins'

So Plan B was put into operation because our Darkness box set didn’t arrive Saturday.

To say I was disappointed is understating the situation a tad.  I am, at heart, a planner and I’m not quick at adjusting when things don’t work out.  I was still fed up when we started watching the Take That documentary on Saturday night.  Now normally I would have quite enjoyed this.  I have nothing against the lads but a Take That documentary is still a very poor substitute for a Bruce Springsteen documentary.

By Monday I started to become quite irrational and began to think our box had got lost in the post.  What to do then?  I didn’t have a plan C!

You might be surprised to find that Mike and I do have a life which doesn’t involve Bruce.  We had things to do Monday but we couldn’t both be out of the house at the same time in case the package didn’t go through the letter box.  Mike went out first and did his stuff then I nipped to the shops.

We were both in when the letterbox rattled - no big thud meant no parcel - oh no!!  I’m beside myself practically shouting at Mike that I knew it was lost.  He is much calmer but looks disappointed.  Then I look through the window and the postman is hesitating - yes he’s stopped.  He’s turning round and in his hand is the best looking, most fabulous brown packet I have ever seen in my life.   I opened the door and snatched it out of his hands babbling incoherently.  He definitely thought I was mad - nuff said.

So we stuck to the original viewing plan and watched the documentary first.  Then we listened to the CDs. - well we put them on the stereo.  I’m not sure if I really listened but I’ve had them constantly on my iPod ever since and the more I hear them the more I love them.  I’m beginning to recognise the songs from the intros already - not sure if that’s a good sign.

Now I don’t have a musical ear so I can’t tell the new recording from the old and to be fair I don’t much care.  I either like something or not.

… So first impressions - there’s nothing I don’t like - nothing - and I can’t say that about any other Bruce album.

Love ‘Outside Looking In’ but then I’ve always been a Buddy Holly fan.  My brother played him a lot when I was a baby.  ’One Way Street’ is lovely - nice sax solo.  ‘The Brokenhearted’ and Candy’s Boy are fab.

I loved ‘Save My Love’ as soon as I heard it and ‘Spanish Eyes’ was already on my iPod from the boot.  Great version of ‘Fire’.  ’Talk To Me’ is already a Southside Johnny classic.  My favourite at this moment must be ’It’s a Shame’ I just love the intro - what does it remind me of? 

 Or is my favourite ’The Little Things My Baby Does’? 

We both know and love ‘The Promise’ from a cover version by Graziano Romani on an album we have - Light of Day - A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen. Great intro to ‘City of Night’ too - Taxi cab taxi cab…

And you all know how I feel about ‘The Way’.

Oh it’s just all so exciting and wouldn’t it make the basis of a great tour ? - I could sing along to all of these at the top of my voice.

So back to the rest of the box.  We watched the ’78 show from beginning to end in one sitting and Mike managed to stay awake.  He fell asleep during Hammersmith!  Actually he enjoyed it and he isn’t really a fan of early Bruce.  A bit controversial this but I don’t see that Bruce was so much better then than now.  He was into his forties by the time we first saw him so, that thrill of a live show, that recognition of what it was like to be there is only brought back to us in the later recordings like Live in NYC and Live in Barcelona.

Watching the early stuff is almost like watching someone else.  Don’t get me wrong It was amazing but the 2009 recording was our Bruce and I could relate to that better.  Here was the man that we go to see time and again.

For me the band sounded just as good now so despite all the discussions on Greasy Lake and BTX beforehand I don’t think the comparison was conclusive.

Well shorter post today as busy busy busy this weekend - non Bruce stuff - well Bruce related in a way I suppose. More of this next week.

Friday, 12 November 2010

My Bruce Journey - Part 45 (or a week in the life of a Springsteen fan)

Seven nights to wait well I’ve got seven nights to wait

Sunday - it’s just a week away

The Promise is due to be released in the UK on Monday 15th November 2010.  I hope my copy will arrive on Saturday 13th

Monday - We need to plan our day

Oooh Morrisons have litre bottles of Bailys at under a tenner.  Sounds like a great excuse to have a bottle by the sofa on Saturday.

Now - what are we going to watch first and when do we start?  At the moment I’m thinking documentary first.  Then a toilet break and a snack.  Should we leave the 1978 show until it’s dark outside?  Watching in the dark might be more authentic.

So… lets do the outtakes CDs next.  Then perhaps a break to digest what we have seen and heard then settle down for the 1978 show at about 6.00pm.  Might then save the other DVD until Sumday and last the  remastered album.

Tuesday - there’s a grain of doubt

But… what if it doesn’t arrive on Saturday?  Better ask for Monday off work as I will need to be in to greet the postman. Remember to ask my manager tomorrow.

Started worrying what might go wrong but I think we have everything covered.  We have CD players in three rooms - unlikely they will all go on the blink.

A couple of weeks ago we bought a Blu Ray player in preparation.  Checked this the other night (borrowed Harry Potter from our friends) and it works.  Should it suddenly go wrong we still have the old DVD player and a TV/DVD combo in the bedroom.

We seemed to be more than fully equipped so barring electricity cuts everything should be OK.  Mind you if the weather doesn’t improve the electricity side of things might be a bit iffy.

Wednesday - we‘ve got it sorted out

OK contingency plan organised.  My manager has Okayed the day off next Monday.  Mike has booked the day off too. He thinks he’s on a promise - bless him - but he’s got hold of the wrong end of the stick!

The internet is awash with previews and excerpts.  I clicked on The Promise trailer with Thom Zimmy and Dave Marsh chatting but only watched about 30 seconds.

I‘ve got ‘Candy’s Room’ (the 2009 recording) coming at me from all directions - three or four posts on FB and several emails!  I gave in and had a quick peek but only watched a couple of bars… and I was annoyed with myself for not having the willpower to resist.

Thursday - get the housework done

Now what do I normally do at weekends?

1. Write my blog - well here it is.
2. Washing - OK can do this over the next couple of evenings instead
3. Ironing- ditto
4. Shopping - Friday night will be OK
5. General housework. What the heck I’ll leave it!

Friday - Saturday everyone have fun!

Well it’s 4.00pm and I’ve finally had an email from Badlands to say my order has been dispatched.  I’ve been on tenterhooks all day - getting more and more stressed as time went on - been looking forward to this weekend for sooooo long.

7.00pm now.  So been shopping.  Full fridge, beers and wine in, Pringles in and going to make Nigella’s sweet and salty crunch nut bars and get them in the fridge for tomorrow.

Door is locked, curtains are drawn and phone is off the hook.  Visitors are banned all weekend.

Planning for tomorrow but hey if it turns up Monday that’s OK- thank heavens for plan B.

So for all The Tramps out there, whether you have your box already or are waiting for it to come within the next few days enjoy watching and see you for a review next week.

Now where is that bottle of Baileys - I think I’ll start the party tonight!


Saturday, 6 November 2010

My Bruce Journey - Part 44

'I'll take the fate the daylight brings'

As a young teenager my music taste was never what you would call cutting edge.  I didn’t follow any of the cool bands.  I loved David Cassidy and The Partridge Family and I have just spent a nostalgic half hour or so watching videos on YouTube.  Of course their claim to fame from our point of view is that Mike Appel co-wrote a couple of songs for them.  Here is one of them - not my favourite track but David still looks cute.   I just loved the hair.

Bruce has mentioned many times during the build up to The Promise how skinny they were back in the day.  David was skinny too as you can see.  I think it must have been fashionable for guys to look emaciated in those days. 

This Rolling Stone cover was very controversial at the time. David was supposed to be Keith Partridge - a wholesome 17 year old but he was 22 at the time and didn't like the image.  By the way he has been arrested for drink driving this week so... still in the news for the wrong reasons.

I had a bit of a thing for The Osmonds, especially Donny, for a while and later The Bay City Rollers.  If I was a teenager today I would definitely be glued to The X Factor and rooting for One Direction rather than Matt Cardle.

My only nod towards musical respectability was The Faces and Rod Stewart. Pre ‘Do You Think I’m Sexy’ Rod was loved by the music critics but after the release of this disco classic he was accused of selling out and has never really regained his good reputation.

I also tried David Bowie for a couple of albums and I bought ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ but, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t love either Bowie or Elton.

I loved Tamla and Soul and had a phase when I listened to a lot of Northern Soul much of which is early and obscure Motown.

As I mentioned way back in my first or second post my music taste changed when I met Mike.  He had no particular love of soul music his background was towards the rock genre.  Had we been around during the mid sixties he would have been a rocker and I would’ve been a mod.  Nowadays I aspire to being a rock chick - even at my age!

I popped into HMV the other day.  They don’t sell CDs any more.  Well I exaggerate - they do - but the proportion of the shop given over to music is slowly being squeezed out by DVDs.  The specialist sections, including country music, are now very limited which means I couldn’t find a copy of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s latest album.

‘Thunder Road’ was playing when I walked in so, although they didn’t have what I wanted, I hung around waiting for the track to finish - well I couldn’t walk out on Bruce could I?  ‘Badlands’ came next followed by ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ - they were obviously playing Greatest Hits.  I couldn’t hang around all day - It was my lunch hour - so I left during ‘Hungry Heart’.

I must say I was surprised to hear Bruce.  I might not be very popular for saying this but here in the UK I'm not sure that Bruce is considered cool.  I don’t think it’s because of his age.  A large part of HMV now sells clothes.  They have T shirts featuring among other aging (and indeed dead) rockers The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Guns N Roses, The Beatles, Johnny Cash and Elvis.   

No Bruce although I have checked on line and they do have one design.

Mike’s boss lives with someone who works for HMV.  At his last seminar the goody bag he was given included a 'Born in the USA'  T shirt.  I assume they didn’t think they could sell these any more.

Mike now has the T shirt - presumably his boss’s partner couldn’t bring himself to wear it!

Incidentally HMV is overflowing with checked shirts - they are cool at the moment - and our man has favoured these for many years.

I pass a shop on my way to the bus stop - On the Wall - which as the name suggests sells stuff you put on the wall.  A quick look in the window the other night revealed The Rolling Stones, Elvis, The Beatles, The Who, The Ramones but no Bruce.

I thought he might become cool during Glastonbury.  Even then there was no influx of T shirts or posters on the Leeds’ streets.  I’m not sure why - even Rolf Harris was cool for heavens sake when he appeared!  I think in the UK people see Bruce as an all American guy who only sings about the USA - a sort of musical Rambo.  They dislike him for it - but then rather oddly complained because he didn’t sing 'Born in the USA' at Glastonbury.

So 35 or so years on I still don't follow a cool band but I have wondered whether the tide is turning this last week.  The UK premier of The Promise saw Bruce on TV and in the press almost constantly over last weekend.  The celebrity fans came out in support as well as the public although compared to Rome I think our Red Carpet Event was rather low key.

Perhaps all this publicity will make Bruce cool again.  Now he just need to get out on the road to keep the momentum going.

In the mean time check out Neil McCormick's article about NME's cool list.   If you are wondering about Neil's credentials as a music critic, he had this to say about Bruce in another article :-

I’m not sure Bruce Springsteen would have the same effect if you couldn’t understand the lyrics or the musical context. Tune into him as the leader of an afrobeat band on some third world radio station, you’d put him down as a gruff shouter, always in tune but missing a lot of notes in the scale. If he even tried a falsetto, all you would get is silence. Yet when I watched him play last weekend, I was amongst tens of thousands of people held spellbound by his performance. He sings with an emotional truth that resonates through his very being, and is squeezed out in the potent, careful lyrics of his songs, so that his melancholic, introspective version of Racing In The Street reduced a massive Hyde Park crowd to a state of hushed awe. Rock has a very different tradition to soul music, where the expression of inner truth is more important than the purity of the notes, and Springsteen, for all his vocal limitations, is one of the greatest rock singers of all time.

He's not right about the falsetto though