Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Happy Birthday Bruce: 65 today

How do you judge people?
On whether they are kind to animals or old folk?
On how they behave when they know that they are not being watched?
Compassionate, loyal etc?
Yup, all of the above...
I know that it's wrong but I always get a bit uncomfortable around folk who rant negatively about Bruce Springsteen.
Sure, his music might be a little bombastic for some - 'Born in the USA' is misunderstood but still a little overblown for me - but... the man has an integrity that is unimpeachable. He's consistent and focussed. Seems to be a true and honest friend too; one that doesn't always take the easy turn but will always hold your eye, not glance over your shoulder for something... better.
Anyway, I just wanted to mark his 65th birthday.
The first Springsteen I ever heard was on a tiny, tinny plastic radio in my dormitory in Ermysted's Grammar school back in 1975. 'Born to Run' was the song and it knocked me sideways; possibly the most potent musical epiphany of my life. Springsteen mythology; everyone spoke in hushed tones about the lost concert footage of the infamous Hammersmith Odeon gig of 1975. Bruce was pissed off with the world, the British press in particular, for over hyping his first UK appearance as the arrival of some kind of Messiah. 'The Future of Rock and Roll' flyers were everywhere and he ripped them down and stomped 'em good. You can read the history of that tantrum anywhere. However, when 'Born to Run' was remastered a few years back it was re-issued with recently discovered film of that concert and it turned out to be as scintillating as everyone dared to believe.
Do yourselves a favor; seek it out.
It's spellbinding.
Here's the first song.
The moment you glimpse Bruce skulking onto the stage wearing a tea cozy on his head, to the moment at the end of the song when the band take the stage and hug each in other in obvious relief is just joyful.
This one song is hands down my favorite live vocal performance of all time.
My favorite musical 'moment' is when the band kick on the next song, 10th Avenue Freeze Out.
Again, well worth searching out...
Chicken Skin...
Nice memories in this Guardian piece too...


  1. One of the best OGWT features ever on the show and I will never forget the first time I saw him on there playing Rosalita - Just mesmerising :)

  2. Hammersmith in '75 was a fundamental moment for me as far as music is concerned; a definite, life affirming event.
    I'd heard an bought the first two albums based on music press chatter and enjoyed them though, not by any means been blown away. The third, Born To Run, was another matter. It had the sound an feel of the great pop records, the pre Beatles London American label gems combined with a, sometimes clumsy, literacy I'd come to expect post Dylan.
    So when tickets became available for the UK concert debut they were a must have.It may be worth pointing out here that at the time I was domiciled in Hull and pre internet booking tickets for London events was problematic. Lucily my brother lived in London so the problem was easily overcome.
    The pre gig music press reviews were essentially promising the answer to dreams and the label's' London is finally ready ...' campaign (the one Springsteen personally tore down the posters for) added to the fervour. Could he deliver?
    I saw the second house of the second night he played the Hammersmith Odeon (imagine that Springsteen doing two show in one night!), Bruce walked on stage in baggy pants, short sleeved shirt and an oversized woollen hat and with just Roy Bittan's piano in support offered Thunder Road. Quite frankly had that been it, it would have been enough.
    However the E St Band joined, Miami Steve and Clarence Clemons looking like refugees from a Motown supper club band in their cartoonish suits. Now I took no notes that night and a memory from nigh on four decades past might not be ideal but I recall stunning playing, Springsteen leaving the stage to watch the band from the stalls, long story intros including a set piece with Van Zandt that lead into a stunning Pretty Flamingo, a wonderful cover of When You Walk In The Room and, in hindsight a generous helping of what we now regard as classics. The icing on the cake; Bruce alone at the piano with For You.
    I can also vouch that three hours and five minutes after he set foot on that stage my musical prorities had changed for ever. Bruce has been the main man since then and whilst there may have been minor disagreements over the years I have never been let down on record or live by the man which is some achievement.
    And while were at it I have to mention the solo acoustic gig at Birmingham's Symphony Hall and the mutiple gigs on The River tour each one of which was different . . .
    So as you might guess that night in November '75 was really something!
    Steve Morris