Saturday, January 28, 2017

True Springsteen & The E Street Band, Perth Friday 27 January 2017

There are times when I wonder how people like the dude from does it.

Actually, when I stop to ponder the question, I'm pretty sure how he manages to come up with the quantity of purple prose you'll find here.

It's just that he seems to be able to do it night after night, tour by tour.

It's probably down to practice and access, both to people behind the scenes and the statistical minutiae of performances over the last 45 years.

Hughesy, of course, doesn't have access to either and is left, not quite grasping at straws, trying to wrestle impressions and half realised hypothesis into something readable.

In that task, talking to the neighbours helps. This time the gentleman on my left and his partner were in for the first Bruce show and, it seemed, not entirely sure what they were in for.

That was the way it looked in the preconcert conversation, though one suspects Mrs Next Door had more than a passing acquaintance with much of the material.

Actually, a glance down the set list reveals a number of numbers you'd expect people who listened to the radio through the 70s and 80s to be familiar with.

Cover Me, Glory Days, Hungry Heart, The River, I'm Goin’ Down, Because the Night, Born to Run, Dancing in the Dark and Bobby Jean all fit into that category.

They are songs you would have expected to get a guernsey when it comes to setlist selection.

But here are the play counts from Hughesy’s nine Springsteen shows to date: Two, Four, Five, Three, Two, Three, Nine, Nine and Five.

So, two of them have turned up every night, as you'd expect them to, since they are probably Bruce's biggest hits Down Under.

But the odd glance aside suggested Mrs Next Door wasn't unfamiliar with most of what emerged in the set list. Maybe she had access to all the albums but hadn't managed to get to a show before this one.

In hindsight, I should have asked where they were from.

And at the end of the show, when I asked for an impression Mr Next Door indicated an understanding some people’s need to attend multiple shows.

Memory, of course, is an unreliable conveyance but I was pretty sure I had it right when I turned to the neighbour at the end of Hungry Heart and pointed out that everything between the opening New York Serenade and his crowd traditionally sings the the first verse favourite wasn't on the playlist last time.

If I was the sort of person to check these things on-the-fly I would've realised but tonight's show delivered my first Radio Nowhere, and, later in the piece, my first Drive All Night.

That was interesting since both of them were, I thought, likely candidates to turn up somewhere along the line. It just took them nine shows to do it.

Unlike the dude from, I do not have access to the statistical resources that allow him to report that Drive All Night was making its southern hemisphere or to remark that three night runs in the one city are a relatively rare occurrence.

Which raises an interesting point. A look at the set list from both nights suggests a clear separation between the main set and the encore.

Didn't happen.

Both nights, the house lights went up at the end of the main set (in this case during Badlands or Land of Hope and Dreams) and stayed on for the duration.

The impression I got from my neighbour on Wednesday was that the general admission pit in Perth doesn't quite have the energy level you find elsewhere. He would have been down there if he'd been able to pick up two tickets before they sold out, so I assume he knows what he speaks.

He and his wife will be in general admission in Melbourne on Saturday.

And throughout the two nights, there was a decided lack of intensity in the applause between numbers. By and large, it rarely roared and generally faded fairly quickly.

Under those circumstances, one suspects a band who have left the stage might have had difficulty coming back, so the treat everything as one long set probably makes sense.

But then, if the crowd is relatively reserved, why the three night run in Perth?

There are, I suspect, two obvious answers.

First, because it's Perth, and touring acts tend to stick to the east coast. It's hard, after all, to justify the expense of shipping an international act and everything that comes with them back and forth across the Nullarbor. So they either play Perth on the way into Australia, or the way out.

Stands to reason, doesn't it?

Second, because it's Bruce, who has demonstrated the ability to sell out a venue the size of the Perth Arena at least once, probably twice, and in this case (and last time, if I recall correctly) three times.

Last time, Adelaide also got two shows, and the second show in Melbourne was announced so late in the piece that I almost missed getting a ticket.

And, when I did, it was very close to the back row up in the nosebleeds.

What questions about second and third shows, on calls and levels of enthusiasm are secondary considerations. We are, after all, there for the music, and Bruce has failed to disappoint on any of the nine nights I’ve seen him so far.

At the same time, I don't recall having been struck by the intensity of the performance as the band ruled through Night and Saint, and even Cover Me arrive with far more passion than one might have expected for what I've always regarded as a fairly nondescript mid-tempo radio-friendly rocker.

Radio Nowhere fairly burned with intensity, and if the four song salvo wasn't prompted by some niggle or irritant, it certainly got the energy level up to where it needed to be.

And that's where it stayed for the duration.

New York City Serenade (with strings)
It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City
Cover Me
Radio Nowhere
Glory Days
Hungry Heart
The River
Murder Incorporated
Johnny 99
You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
Death to My Hometown
Drive All Night
I'm Goin' Down
Because the Night
The Rising
Land of Hope and Dreams
* * *
Born to Run
Seven Nights to Rock
Dancing in the Dark 
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Bobby Jean 

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