Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Devils & Dust

Last night I found myself reminiscing about the concerts I've attended. They are vast and varied. From Marilyn Manson to Yo La Tengo, Motorhead to Feist, Chromeo to Jay-Z, and Flaming Lips to Michael Franti. I worked in a music shop for close to four years, received plenty of free tickets and enjoyed many strange moments, like dressing as KISS to promote their symphony album, telling LL Cool J we didn't have a DVD he was looking for, getting my picture taken with Alice Cooper and hugging Buck 65 (and probably holding on a little longer and tighter than necessary. What can I say, the man is a Canadian dreamboat.) 

There have been many great shows and at the top of the list is the two Toms, Petty and Waits. Two shows I will always remember. Two of the greats. Two men who brought me through some really rough patches in my life. To hear Petty since Wildflowers and Waits tinker away on his piano for Table Top Joe will always be remembered fondly. I am lucky to have witnessed these two men perform. 

But there is one other man who is sits among these two greats. 

Bruce Springsteen. 

Hold on, before you get all uppity about his blue collar persona and rah-rah-America shtick, you have to listen to his other albums. By 'other albums' I mean the ones where his lyrics will blow you away and his melodies will tame your wild heart and remind you everyone has melancholic moments. I fell in love with Nebraska first and it was the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship. Nebraska is an album worthy of that most profound feeling of being forlorn. It is broken promises and lost souls wandering empty nights. It is a higher level of story telling. It's isolation. Loneliness. And rain drops on windows. Songs like Used Cars and Atlantic City paint a picture so vivid you can taste the dust in the air and hear the bugs hitting the windscreen.

By the time Devils & Dust was released in 2005, I was head over heels and no one would be able to convince me that Bruce Springsteen wasn't anything but genius. While I loved everything he did, the best had just fallen into my hands. I must have played D&D on repeat for months. It was inspiring and heart-breaking, and it kind of felt like home. When I got free tickets to the show, I nearly flipped. I wasn't sure what to expect, after all, this was the man who was known for fist pumping and having a bandana in his back pocket. 

It was quite personal for a Colosseum show. They sectioned it off so only a quarter of the seats were sold, if that. And I remember it feeling intimate. He was onstage, just him and his guitar and he told stories. About the songs. His life. Why his son was on tour with him. And for those two hours, I was absorbed. I didn't even think about the people around me. He was captivating. It seems weird, doesn't it? To have this obsession with this musician you always wrote off as silly dad-rock. Except, he's quite deep, and even when he isn't, he's fun. Songs like Fire, Dancing In The Dark, and I'm On Fire are perfect for dancing around the house in your underwear. 

So, there's my odd little crush. I love Bruce Springsteen. And his Devils & Dust tour was one of the best concerts I've ever seen. No theatrics. No flashes. No bangs. No band. Just him and his guitar. Utter perfection. 


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