Back at home, a bit of time for reflection and not having wanted to overload the concert review, here’s a few more observations from Springsteen’s St. Paul performance:
- Parent-child relationships seem to be in Bruce’s thoughts. During the show, he told several anecdotes about himself and his kids or himself and his parents. Plus “The Hitter” and “Jesus Was An Only Son” are both about the mother-child relationship. As for kids, Bruce had a fairly accurate description of the stages of parenthood: when the kids are young, you are perfect; when they’re in high school, you’re an idiot; in between, you’re a tolerable idiot. You’ve failed the parenthood test if you move from stage three to “fucking idiot.”
- Bruce also had a few political comments (as he has every time I’ve seen him perform). He prefaced “Part Man, Part Monkey” (available on Tracks or 18 Tracks) by referring to the Kansas Board of Education’s current evolution debate and the impact of the religious right on the media in this country, speculating that the film Inherit the Wind could not be made today without protest by the religious right. He also urged a “humane immigration policy” in the lead-in to “Matamoros Banks,” a song about a man dying while trying to cross the Rio Grande into the US.
- On listening to Devils & Dust since the concert, I find interesting how much more I seemed to enjoy the sparse concert versions of “Reno” and “Leah” over the more structured versions on the CD. Bruce and guitar alone seem to reveal additional emotional layers to the tunes. It shows there is truth to “Well I got this guitar/And I learned how to make it talk.”
- As you entered Xcel, staff there were handing out the “rules” for the show. They included: everyone had to be seated before the first song and anyone showing up after the start of the show had to wait till the third song was completed to be seated; after that, no seating during songs, only between; concession stands closed 10 minutes before the show and then closed for the duration. As far as I could tell, the rules were enforced, although the show started well more than half an hour late, which seems standard for Springsteen.
- My review mentioned Bruce’s comments on whistling, etc. If internet talk is correct, he frowned on at least one other thing. Supposedly, the set list on stage and at the soundboard included “Cautious Man.” Shortly before it was to be played, some loudmouth yelled out a request for the tune. Bruce did not play the song, the only one on the setlist that was not.
- There seemed to have some homage paid to Bob Dylan in the pre-concert music selections. In addition to several Dylan performances, there was also a Spanish language version of “If You See Her, Say Hello” (whether it was Bob himself, I don’t know) and a female vocalist’s cover of “One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below).”
- Finally, two downtown St. Paul notes. Virtually every storefront we went by had a poster of a police sergeant’s shield with a black band across it in tribute to the St. Paul police officer shot and killed last Friday and buried yesterday. And while certainly not in the same category, I was saddened to see seven Corners Deli just down the block from the Xcel had closed. It was a traditional stop for stromboli, calzones or pizza before or after a concert or hockey game.
Somehow all you ever need’s, never really quite enough you know.
“Reno,” Bruce Springsteen, Devils & Dust