Wednesday, May 6, 2009

JPJA FREEZE OUT

Like a spirit in the night…all night.

All the great ones love their work, and Bruce Springsteen clearly loves his. We had thought that only the magical Rolling Stones could flirt with sixty (and then pass it), and retain the energy of their youth to the swooning entertainment and delight of their loyal fans.

Last night, at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville after a 33 year break, Mr. Springsteen reminded us that he still has the amazing energy of a world class rock star, the delivery of a revival tent roof-raising evangelist and a unique ability to connect with an audience both young and old. Ok, mostly old.

We’ve seen the Boss before – Constitution Hall in the spring of 1975 and Carter Barron Ampitheatre on July 29 or 30 (not sure which) that same year. The last time we saw Springsteen and his E Street homies was shortly after Born To Run made him a mega star at Burruss Hall at Virginia Tech on April 22, 1976 where he wowed the crowd of 3,000. Tickets cost all of $5.50.

Unfortunately, we haven’t paid much attention to a Springsteen album since Tunnel of Love. No doubt, we’ve missed plenty, but real life is time consuming. Having said that, even though we were unfamiliar with some of the songs, Springsteen’s delivery was no less amazing – he still has IT, and he still has it big time.

Mixed in with some songs from his new album and some more “modern” songs, the audience was treated to classic versions of the old school classics Spirt In The Night (lights down, big sing along), Thunder Road and Born to Run (lights up, big sing along). Thank you, Mr. Asbury Park for making a whole bunch of old people feel young again. Well done, fellow old guy (Springsteen in 59).

A few points to ponder: Nils Lofgren is great and unbelievably short. An odd looking cat, T.A.H. Pop Culture Editor Young A.T. (wowed by her first Bruce concert, by the way) used three words to describe the Hello It’s Me guitarist – SNL and Mr. Peepers. It’s hard to argue the point.

Springsteen’s E Street band, like most great rock and roll bands, is drum-driven and, to that end, Max Weinberg was brilliant. Hey, Charlie Watts, make room on the bench.

About two-thirds of the way through the show Max got up and walked off the stage…was Conan calling? Enter, a scrawny skinny kid with long hair, black tee shirt and jeans. Frankly, he looked like a roadie. Is it his job to keep Max’s seat warm while the famous drummer goes to pee?

Well…no. That skinny kid would be Jay Weinberg, Max’s son, and he was fabulous. He pushed the band through their paces driving the rhythm section like he learned his chops from some famous drummer…

On this tour, Bruce has been taking requests (both his songs and others) and has noted that “you can’t stump the E Street band.” Last night, he collected a dozen signs from fans requesting various songs before settling on the Kinks’ You Really Got Me. Needless to say, the version was “rousing.”

(Not to be cynical…Ok, to be cynical…we suspect this could be a set up. Really? Who knows all the words to a random Kinks’ hit song from 196? We noticed the large yellow sign and pointed it out when Bruce started making his rounds. After the Boss snagged it, we noticed there was a credentialed security guy in a bright yellow jacket standing next to the dude holding the winning sign. Hmmm.)

Finally, kudos JPJA. We have a history, you know. Our first visit netted a Wahoo upset of a highly ranked Duke team on a last second Sean Singletary fall away miracle shot in overtime. Now, that’s a first date that’s hard to top.

Since then, we’ve seen everything from Grave Digger at the Monster Jam truck festival to the 2009 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball National Champions, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels in a easy win over the Hoos earlier this year. All very pleasant, albeit quite different, experiences.

But this was our first concert appearance at the C’ville arena. We had great seats – lower level on the side about the even with the top of the key, with the basket being the stage. Ironically, just one section toward mid-court from where we are hosted to hoops by Dr. A.G. Wahoo. JPJA is not a huge stadium, and any lower level seat is very, very good. File that away for future use.

In spite of a sold out crowd, there was little traffic getting to the paid parking lots and the walk from the car to the beer concession (yes, they sell beer in a college arena [for concerts]) took under five minutes. Properly timed, one could leave one’s seat at the beginning of a song, unbeer, grab a new beer and get back to said seat before the first chorus. The beer vendors allow you a max of four, which is plenty.

Nice, JPJA, NICE!

The only minor disappointment of the night is that Springsteen simply can’t play all the songs everybody likes. This explains why so many of his serious fans go to multiple shows each tour as the set list is fairly diverse from one night to the next.

We aren’t a big enough Springsteen aficionado beyond his early years – give us Asbury Park, the E Street Shuffle and Born to Run, and we’re good to go – to complain about the set list, but we would have preferred to have been sent home with “Rosalita” as opposed to the occasionally used “Detroit Medley.” Oddly enough, the 1976 concert at Virginia Tech also ended with the same "Detroit Medley" according to various sources on the Internet.

Oh well, the devil may have had a blue dress on, but (as usual) Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band were the ones on fire.

Now, do we have to quarantine ourselves since we bought our tix in an internet café in Mexico?

For Backstreets.com view of the JPJA show click here.

1 comment:

  1. The thing to remember about the springsteen show in 76 at Burruss at Virginia Tech ...students and dates 4.50 ...was that he played 4 encores when the crowd refused to leave ...about half had left when he came back to do twist and shout ...4 hours total. My first show and the 11th at JPJ and probably my last ...both equally as incredible

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