Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Bruce Springsteen: Patriot Center, Fairfax, VA - May 14 , 2005

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We caught Bruce Springsteen's Saturday night concert at George Mason University's Patriot Center in Fairfax, VA and were mesmerized by the unplugged and stripped down evening.

The last time we saw Bruce unplugged was on the Ghost of Tom Joad tour back in 1995 and it was definitely one of the most memorable Bruce concerts ever. Say what you will about the E St. Band, seeing an artist alone onstage from a few rows back is such an intimate experience that one can never capture during the stadium mob scenes.

On this night, Bruce performed on no less than 3 types of keyboards, 4 guitars, and several harmonicas. While the new Devils & Dust CD was the primary source selection, songs from 1990's The River and Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad were lovingly drawn from during the 2 1/2 hour, 25-song performance.

The concert included two tour premieres: "The Ghost of Tom Joad" and "Dry Lightning". Also a rare performance of "Wreck on the Highway," performed on electric piano; "Wreck" was last performed with John Wesley Harding in 1994 and before that in 1985 in Australia.

The audience was as reverential as one could ever hope for with virtually zero song requests between songs and shouts of "Bruuuce". Hard to believe for a Saturday night.

From a review in The Washington Post by Joe Heim:
"Reason to Believe" from 1982's "Nebraska" was recast as some sort of foot-stomping, Gothic, Delta blues exorcism. The rendition, sung through a tricked-up microphone and accompanied only by Springsteen's howling-cat harmonica, was so incomprehensible that even the signer for the hearing-impaired sat that one out."

For the intro for "Matamoros Banks," writes Heim, a song about the death of a Mexican migrant worker that could be a 21st-century version of Woody Guthrie's "Deportees," Springsteen said, "We don't really need vigilantes along the border. What we need is a humane immigration policy."

Some interesting comments before "Part Man, Part Monkey." Bruce said:
"Evolution is in doubt right here in Washington. If it's in doubt right here, what the hell are they thinking other places? Of course, I personally think the president believes in evolution, but he can't say so. He's been around the block enough; he's doing what he has to so he can do what he wants to. A lot of folks do that.... But out in Kansas, they're taking this shit serious!... They're following the leader."

The highlight of the evening was a performance of "The River" which had an extensive introduction where Bruce reminisced about his mother's love of radio love songs.

The final encore was a cover of Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream" with Bruce walking off stage for the night while singing the chorus as the house lights went up.

A great solo evening.

More reviews and setlist details on Backstreets.
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