Springsteen show at the Sun marks a milestone

Indulge me for a minute and consider this small sample of concerts I've seen over the years - both as a fan and as a reporter.

John Tesh. Three Dog Night. Poison. Reba McIntire. Elvin Bishop Group (before Mickey Thomas). William Lee Golden (of the Oak Ridge Boys). The Grassroots. Yanni. Molly Hatchett. Uriah Heep (three times, all with iconic vocalist David Byron and including the night bassist Gary Thain was electrocuted onstage). Kanye West. Anthrax. Bruce Willis (yes, singing). Kevin Costner (yes, singing.) Sammy Hagar. Olivia Newton-John. Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

I could add more - probably hundreds.

But I can't add The Boss.

It's true. I've never seen Bruce Springsteen in concert. Given the acts above, I think that's pretty funny - or maybe criminally incriminating.

"How can this happen?" you could conceivably ask - particularly since many of the folks listed might well strike you as extremely odious. Also, considering Springsteen's reputation as a rock 'n' roll Everyman whose work has touched millions, and whose epic concerts are universally and routinely considered to be among the best live shows ever, well, it's frankly disturbing that I've never seen him.

And yet ...

While I have all the respect and admiration in the world for Springsteen and his art and work ethic - and in acknowledgement that he seems to be a truly good person - can I just say his music doesn't really connect with me in a big fashion?

Yes, I'm sure the fault lies with me and not Bruce - and I'm not being ironic. In fact, there are several of his songs I like just fine, although my favorite, "Dancing in the Dark," is, from what I've inferred, mostly disdained by True Fans for being not sufficiently Bruce-ian.

Another aspect to the Legend of Bruce is that, coming from the south, I think most of his sonic sagas of growing up in the northeast were totally alien to me and a lot of my musical friends. In fact, I remember once when someone excitedly told our band that Springsteen had a new album coming out.

Our singer, Nick Shannon, shrugged and said, summarizing our collective view of Springsteenian narrative, "Yeah, yeah, we know: (Bruce) hopped in his Chevy and drove to Jersey."

Obviously, there is great complexity, diversity, geographic/cultural history and plot arcs in the Springsteen canon, but that was our simplistic stereotype based on what we'd heard on radio.

But here's another truism: any of my Texas pals - and anyone else I know - who have seen Springsteen perform insist that it's virtually a life-changing experience. And that, after you've seen him once, It All Makes Sense.

That's extremely compelling. At the same time, it's somewhat odd so many fans use the "you've gotta see him live" qualifier. Shouldn't the songs resonate regardless? The performance context is only one aspect of the musical experience and I love a lot of music by artists I've never seen live.

Well, either way, there's clearly something about Springsteen and his band's in-concert energy that equals alchemical magic. In that spirit, on Saturday, in the Mohegan Sun Arena, I'm gonna catch The Boss for the first time, and I'm pretty damned jazzed.

It'll be interesting to see if I emerge from the venue and rapidly start gobbling up the back catalog. Given the weight of history, I wouldn't bet against it.


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