Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Rise of the Aurora

There is a cliche about the importance of answering when opportunity knocks. Cliches become so because they contain more than a morsel of truth. Trust me when I tell you that too is worth remembering.

In the middle of last week, Bruce Springsteen announced that during his two shows this weekend at Madison Square Garden he and the E Street Band were going to play "full album" shows in a vein similar to what they did at Giants Stadium and at the Spectrum. And, as per the announcement, they were going to play The River (all 21 songs) in its entirety on Sunday night and - for the first of the two shows - they were going to do something they had never done, which was to play The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle in order -and in its entirety. I had no tickets to either show. I had reasonably anticipated that the final show at Giants Stadium was my final opportunity to see Springsteen and his band mates - both on this tour and given the uncertainty of their future (they are planning to take more than a year off after this tour) perhaps forever. When they announced the plan to play WIESS in its entirety, I got in touch with my softball-playing buddy Dave Puteska, confirmed his availability, and scooped up a couple of tickets. They were not great seats - by any acceptable definition of the term - but they were in the building. And last night that was more than enough. We met one-half of the Sisters Kizis quartet (Lynne and Gidg) in Penn Station last night and ate together. They had pounced on tickets at or about the same time as we had and - like Dave and me - ended up further from the stage than they are accustomed to being but safely in the building. And for them too that was all that mattered.

Once upon a time, musicians made albums, which had sides. The second side of WIESS is a side that - to my ear - is as good as any that has ever appeared on any rock and roll album anywhere. It consists of only three songs (the entire album has but seven) but they are three epic pieces of music - "Incident on 57th Street", "Rosalita" and "New York City Serenade", which roll one into the other back to back to back. On vinyl they are beautiful. Live and in person they were so much more than that. They were simply exquisite.

The show raged on for a minute or two short of three hours. It started with a classic, "Thundercrack" (introduced by Springsteen as an outtake from the sessions that produced WIESS) and ended with Elvis Costello joining Bruce and the band on stage for final encore, which was the Jackie Wilson song "Higher and Higher". In between it never stopped rocking and rolling. It was a simply extraordinary night of music.

And it occurred to me as I pulled into my driveway after 1:00 a.m. this morning that I now have likely seen this group of musicians playing together for the final time. And presuming that i am indeed correct, what a way to go out. What a way to say goodbye.

Maybe it is not goodbye. Maybe it is just until we meet again further on up the road. One can always hope. For one never knows when an opportunity might present itself to see them again.

You simply have to listen for the knock.


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