Heritage acts (bands or solo-artists that had their hay day in the 80s or earlier) have this strange appeal. A heritage act may be someone who you haven’t paid close attention to for a long, long time, but when they hit 60 and tour Australia, I seem to have this urge to see them. I guess I’m worried that they may end up dead in a motel room, strewn with class-A drugs with a Willie Nelson song blaring whilst the bloated corpse of a former rock god lies on the floor. This is why I go to heritage gigs.
Admittedly, I’ve never been a massive Springsteen fan. I always felt that Neil Young deserved the Oscar for his song ‘Philadelphia’ and ‘The Boss’ earned the bacon with a catchier, more pop-friendly song of the same name. When I think about this reasoning, I realize that it’s pretty stupid. Springsteen’s ‘Philadelphia’ is a great song, worthy of winning an Oscar. Neil Young’s track is also amazing; he just lost out to another great song, written by another great artist. So, for this stupid reason, I’d turned my back on ‘The Boss’ for the best part of three decades.
Above: Bruce Springsteen, aka ‘The Boss’, looking extremely bossesque.
I bit the bullet and saw ‘The Boss’ in an intimate setting, Allphones Arena. Despite having a capacity of somewhere in the vicinity of 20,000, I quite enjoyed the gig and the venue. It’s clean and surprisingly spacious. Lots of hits were played and when played ‘Darkness At The Edge of Town’ (one of Springsteen’s seminal albums) from go to woe, I listened to the two tracks I recognised and then I popped out for coffee. A true Philistine, right? That’s what the Springsteen fanatic sitting behind probably thought, but I was there for the hits and I didn’t want to die of a micro-sleep and on the way home.
Overall, the gig was great. Springsteen is a phenomenal performer and he belted out every track in a three-hour-plus show. The one thing that really got to me was man sitting next to me, who was continually clapping out of time. I hated it. It’s so off-putting. Look, if you’re at a Tool or Dream Theater gig, that is so choc-full of time changes that only people with their A-MusA can understand what the hell is going on, then you’re forgiven for mistiming a clap on the 1, 2 or 4. But the ‘The Boss’ is writing anthems, not anything that’s unnecessarily complex. The only thing that’s challenge is a bit of 6/8 and you can sway like a pendulum to that without too much trouble. The bloke with the bad timing standing next to me, an aging rocker with a million silver rings on hands, did this weird dance to the up-tempo songs, such as ‘Dancing In the Dark’, where would shimmy from left-to-right whilst moving his hands in an arrhythmic fashion, as if he were a poorly trained Mo-Town back-up singer. It was driving me insane. Part of me wanted to show him how to clap on the 2 or the 4, so that he would magically forget his bizarre dance. Strangely, the woman he was with, another ageing rocker, who resembled an even more frizzled out Stevie Nicks, had perfect timing and could sing in key to every track. Why could she put with her husband’s strange, erratic shamblings?
Despite this annoying man and the Springsteen fanatic behind me who would whistle really loudly at the end of each song, it was a really good gig. I’m glad I went because you never know how close your favourite artists from yesteryear are from the Great Gig In The Sky.