I've been reading all sorts of comments about the performance by Bruce Springsteen during the Superbowl half-time show last night. I sort of watched it live while at a party, and initially thought he did a good job. After reading the criticism aimed at The Boss this morning, I watched it again (I DVR'd it at my house), and really have to laugh at people who more easily criticize something to make themselves feel good instead of finding any merit in it. The latter can be more difficult as it is ALWAYS easier to just simply dump on something rather than look for positive attributes....for some wacky reason, finding fault in others makes us feel better about ourselves, doesn't it? So, to those who want to criticize Bruce for doing his thing yesterday, I just want to say, "Be quiet, you ninny. You didn't get it. You are really, really irritating."
I am not a huge Bruce fan, but I like him and most of his music. I've seen him live three times and enjoy his shows. I think Devils and Dust is an amazing, haunting and beautiful record. But, I could easily never hear "Glory Days" again and live a normal life, too.
So, to recap last night, Bruce played for 12-minutes: "Tenth Avenue Freezeout," "Born to Run," "Workin' on a Dream," "Glory Days." Bruce likes to be funny, goofy, and understands the spectacle of show business. He is a showman who often sings songs about heavy hitting topics ("Radio Nowhere," perhaps) just as easily he can throw down a stereotypical rock anthem ("Born to Run"). He's got a quirky sense of humor and creates a "show" around his show. Hence, the referee last night, his banter with Little Steven, the call to put down our chicken fingers and join the fun, etc. AND, what better spectacle to let it all hang out than the friggin' Superbowl. I have no complaints with his stage antics at all. If you do, lighten up.
And, no, I was not suprised nor disappointed that he didn't play "Born in the U.S.A." My opinion of the event would have changed significantly if he had, actually. At the party I attended last night, most people said they thought he would play it, should play it, and expressed dissatisfaction because he didn't. While I think that Bruce's songs--in general--and his continued alliance with the workin' man absolutely contain political overtones, I think many of us miss the dark irony in "Born," a song that is very CRITICAL of America in a sarcastic manner. It is not a cheerleading anthem to our greatness....and the fact that Ronald Reagan thought so and used it in his campaign (which Bruce protested) STILL cracks me up. Anyway, if Bruce had sung that last night, I would have been convinced right now that he really HAD lost it after all. Since he didn't, I am more confident that Bruce is a smart showman who understands his role as a musician much more than most of us can (I will say, however, that I am confused by the Wal-Mart thing. Very contradictory. I think he'll try to get out of it. But, AC/DC did it too and survived without a scratch.). Next.
Another criticism stems from the number of people he had on stage. Yes, it was a lot. SO WHAT? It was a party up there. Like it was everywhere. Next.
He had a gospel choir up there for two minutes, another factor that one blogger called "a sin." Ummm, the original/recorded version of that song HAS A GOSPEL CHOIR IN IT. Oh, and the fact that he slid that same song into the mix, "Workin' On a Dream" (which is the first track of his new record) was called "cheesy." Let me get this straight....according to some critics, a musical artist who has a new record out and is hired to perform on the biggest entertainment event of the winter CANNOT promote his new record? What the fuck?!?!?! Give me one good reason WHY NOT!!! Oh, and I guess he can't make it sound like it really does (gospel choir) for fear of being called "overblown"? It's the goddamn Superbowl. It must be overblown. Next.
I guess why I'm so cranky today is that lately, when I read criticism about music or even what kind of news about music makes the national news (thinking of Jessica Simpson here..."weight-gain controversy"...um, really?!?!?!) I feel that critics and fans do not actually talk about the music. So, I will....
The E Street Band sounded great. All cylindars firing. Tight, organized, comfortable, confident. Having fun. Smiling. Switched gears from song to song like a well-oiled machine. So, good.
"Tenth Avenue Freezeout" suprised me as the show starter, and it's not my favorite tune, by far. But, its lazy, bluesy, romping rhythm was perfect for Bruce to interact with the crowd and warm them up. He didn't play guitar on that song and ran around the stage like a 22-year old. Awesome. So, good.
"Born to Run" is a classic and reaches all audiences and demographics. In fact, with all this snow around me and cabin fever surging through my veins, I would freely run along side Bruce to wherever he suggested. RIGHT NOW. So, good.
Closing with "Glory Days" makes a lot of sense. That game WAS the glory day for the whole damn football season, and it WILL be talked about over and over and over and over at small bars around the country for ever and ever and ever. And changing the lyrics to be more football-friendly (deemed "cheesy" by Bob the Blogger) was certainly better than singing about baseball at a FRIGGIN' FOOTBALL GAME. So, good.
The harmonies between the singers were balanced, even as they changed every song. Little Steven sounded like Little Steven, Patty like Patty and so on. Clarence Clemmens still manages to extract the most, um, unique honking out of this sax like he always has and that's what keeps the whole thing "real." Those musicians last night WERE the E Street Band in every way and did their thing. So, good.
So, to the critics who will speak up loudly so they can talk trash about Bruce Springsteen need to realize that Bruce will always be more famous, successful and admired than they ever will, no matter how snarky, clever or nifty their criticism can be. Music critics (many of them, anyway) often suffer from "never-gonna-be-a-rockstar-so-I'll-be-a-voyeur-instead" syndrome and love to tear down what they know they will never have. It's too bad and sad really.
Ahhhhh, ok. I'm done. I'm not usually this aggravated in my blogging, but whatever. These things happen. Bruce will be 60 this year. Good for him. Good for all of us. Next...