Springsteen’s current tour continues to amaze the rock critic/fan in me. The E St. Band’s combination of majesty, soulfulness and power seemingly grows with each tour – defying the laws of getting old. Bruce’s performances this trek rivals the sustained energy of the Darkeness on the Edge of Town tours of 1978 and the sometimes overlooked fireworks during the subsequent tour from 1980-81, supporting The River album.
Factor in his age (62), the loss of his musical soulmate Clarence Clemons, and that he continues play six cuts off a new record, the consistant excellence of the shows (YouTube is awesome) and the palpable passion that Springsteen invests makes the Rolling Stones at the same age look a bit mellow (though Mick was/still seemingly taking his own age-defying, dance moves-inducing supplement.)
After a run of At a huge (85,000+) festival in Denmark, Bruce invited The Roots, his friends from the Jimmy Fallon late night show, on stage to honor their incredible, best-ever-TV-studio performance of the same song from earlier in 2012. In front of many thousands, with a band swelled to nearly 25 members for this song, they blow it out again. Dig the Sly Stone refrain in the middle, and the crunchy rock and roll mixed with Santana-esque rhythms. A joy to watch…
(More pics from the show from brucebase.wikispaces.com)
Sure, the duet of Bruce circa ’75 and Jimmy Fallon (doing an impeccable Neil Young imitiation) performing “Whip Your Hair” is garnering much of the internet buzz from the Boss’ Tuesday night appearance on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
But it was the incendiary performance of “Because the Night” that was the real star. It will go down (in my little book of lists) as one of the great late night music performances ever.
Backed by The Roots and anchored by E Streeters Little Steven on guitar and Roy Bittan on piano, from the opening vocal moments to a see-to-be-believe guitar-driven ending, they, to paraphrase the words of the original time slot/show host Dave Letterman, “they blew the roof off the fucking place”.
Watch the video and then read a great Rolling Stone blog post with Roots drummer ?uestlove, who said “I mean, I’ve done some intense playing on our show, but that was the most intense playing I’ve ever done.
“If you look at the last 20 seconds [of “Because the Night”], all of us are literally in a circle,” he says. “We’re totally disregarding the minute mark and the deadline – Lord knows we went 32 bars over. We were supposed to end after the end of the bridge, but we just kept going. None of that stuff was expected — the guitar solo.” – READ STORY
They reportedly rehearsed for 90 minutes on the two songs they were to play – no surprise given Bruce’s once-legendary two-hour soundchecks.
I can’t stop watching the performance. The last minute is everything rock and roll should be. And bands who want to see how to deliver when the light comes on should study the video. Not tomorrow. Not later. Now.
With the Rolling Stones “Exile on Main Street” re-released, I read today on Robert Hilburn’s (longtime LA Music writer) Twitter feed that the package may hit #1 this week on the album chart, which is nearly unheard of for a true, non-compilation re-release (think about all those Elvis songs repackaged. Or the Beatles. I don’t count them). Also makes me think back to what Late Night with Jimmy Fallon pulled off last week – producers brought in a band each night to perform their version of a tune off that legendary Stones album. It became a perfect example of making a show feel niche and cool and retro too. The week became nicely hit-and-miss. Even when some artists struggled to make their take a definitive version (Green Day on “Rip This Joint” and Sheryl Crow on “All Down the Line”), they still looked like they were having fun. And when a band found the magic and had a great performance (Keith Urban with “Tumbling Dice” and Phish with “Lovin’ Cup”), it was great music TV.
Below are two of the best. Seen them yet? I can’t find the Phish version anymore, so I substituted a smart next-best take.
Urban’s band is straight up rock and roll here and gives us the side of the artist that’s been drowned out by Nashville hitmaking pop bullshit on his recent albums. Bonus: Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell joins them.
And Phish? They were freakin’ inspired and just so damn good on their song. Put any anti-jam band bias in your pocket for five minutes (I did) and just get into it
KEITH URBAN (from the show)
PHISH (live version from film “Phish 3D”