Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Observations on Bruce Wembley

- This was a fantastic show (definitely in my top 5) but not so good if you were stuck on hearing The River in full.
- Even hoary old Dancing In The Dark was great, not least because of Chris Couper and his astonishing sign ('would you dance with Courteney Cox if she had a great beard?')
- I had a feeling this would be a long one due to the sensible early start and the ten day mid-tour break immediately after - I was right.
- Bruce at the loosest I've ever seen him, not just taking numerous signs but commenting on them too. 'Will you kiss my wife's leg better? NO.' Stealing sunglasses (I hope the audience member got these back) and downing someone's pint ('WTF? No, not all of it!')
- Be True was being soundchecked as we were walked in to the stadium so no real surprise there - but so glad it was played. A great choice of a genuine River outtake.
- I'll Work For Your Love - Bruce observed that this was 'rarely requested', 'obscure' but 'one of my favourites'. Why on earth not rehearse it with the band if it's a favourite? After some messing about to remember the correct key, Bruce's solo performance was very touching. He does seem to have the impression that Magic was not much loved - I don't know why this is, those songs and that tour were tremendous. I'd love to hear Gypsy Biker or Long Walk Home again. 
- There was a political thread to this show - the Seeds/Johnny 99 double, American Skin, Death To MY Hometown, My City Of Ruins, The River - it added up to something weighty and moving, but it could have come from the Wrecking Ball tour. Is there any reason why Seeds so often appears at big London shows? Probably a coincidence.
- The sound was mostly fine in the pit, but why was Nils inaudible during his solo on American Skin? Stuck on a comping preset? 
- Still don't get why it has to be Darlington County as a mass entertainer in the home straight - would Cadillac Ranch or I'm a Rocker not work just as well and keep to the tour's original brief?
- Many will have missed Drive All Night, Stolen Car, Price You Pay, Fade Away but there were numerous compensations - the aforementioned Be True and, perhaps most of all, a beautiful Tougher Than The Rest dedicated to Ali (so it was particularly great that Patti was back). The Sunny Day kid did well and at least got us Jungleland with her sign too.
- I will never complain about hearing Jungleland, and Jake looking up to the skies before the solo gets me every time (he does this on the full band Thunder Road as well).
- I would prefer if Bruce kept the full band Thunder Road - it's a more moving end to proceedings in the main set than Badlands, and then we could get the acoustic This Hard Land instead.
- Surprises in the encore continue to be a good thing.
- Outstanding pit queue management from both fans and the venue stewards. Very civilised and so much better than 2013. Great to see the Wembley stewards having a bit of a boogie themselves during Shout.
- Bruce really is a master showman - the greatest alive, in fact. Yes there are now more limitations to his mobility (jumping from pianos has clearly been added to the list of prohibited activities) and his voice feels the strain more than ever, but he does not look in any way done.
- For those pondering how he 'still' does 3.5 hour shows at 66, it's worth remembering that the average show length has increased as he's got in to his 60s. Rising and Magic tour shows tended to be around 2hrs 45. 
- 'We'll Be Seein' Ya' - do we read anything in to this? Patti was in tears at the end. Yes, this tour feels very emotional and has a sense of summation of his legacy, but so did the 2013 Wrecking Ball shows. He seems to be playing every show as if it is his last. Seeing E Street again can't be guaranteed but it certainly can't be ruled out yet either.