Yesterday night I attended the Light of Day benefit concert in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Great show for a great cause (to help raise money for sufferers of Parkinson’s disease). Unbilled and unsurprisingly, Bruce Springsteen played a 90-minute set. Kelly-Jane Cotter from the Asbury Park Press described Springsteen as the ‘gift with the purchase’ for those with tickets. And you know what to expect when Springsteen plays NJ.
The clichés: the gig was mostly attended by affluent, middle-aged men, many in gold jewellery, who would not be out of place in an episode of the Sopranos and ladies looking like New Jersey housewives. Not a typical Springsteen crowd outside of NJ. Another cliché: Springsteen stole the show. Well, he’s going to isn’t he? That’s not to say the other performers are not stellar artistes. But Springsteen’s mantle as spokesman of joy, broken dreams, hopes and romantic nostalgia has pierced the consciousness of more than one generation of fan. This means he’s going to affect more listeners than those whose work hasn’t been given that platform and investment. Third cliché: grown men blubbering “I love you Bruce!” and screaming in desperate joy as he begins fraught-father-son-relationship song, Adam Raised A Cain. Fourth cliché: ultra-tetchy bouncers and security trying to control over-zealous Springsteen fans’ attempts to shoot to the front of the stage.
I am sure there are many others. Springsteen joined Jesse Malin, Willie Nile and others on duets before belting out his own The Promised Land, Atlantic City, Your Own Worst Enemy and more to satiate a salivating audience – and an irrepressible Springsteen! An unexpected punk highlight was photographer, Danny Clinch’s harmonica on simple and fun, Pink Cadillac.
Alejandro Escovedo played a soulful, acoustic set that ran the gamut in emotion, style and rhythm. Jesse Malin and the St Marks Social’s fresh chemistry buoyed the audience with songs from Malin’s latest album, Love it to Life. Willie Nile horsed around yet sang with heart and conviction, including the rousing, One Guitar.
Springsteen played one of the longest sets he’s ever done for a Light of Day show. Could this be any indication of a tour in 2011? Let’s hope.