It’s good to be Bruce these days. Actually, it’s probably good to be Bruce any day. Lately, he’s been on a roll, what with the just-now release of his 17th studio LP, Wrecking Ball, the Springsteen-dedicated week on Jimmy Fallon, the recently opened exhibit at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center and the upcoming world tour that begins March 18 in Atlanta. Oh, and he’s also on the docket as the keynote speaker at the South by Southwest convention in Austin.
Yes, it’s good to be Bruce Springsteen. But then again, he lost one of his best friends in the world last year with the passing of saxman Clarence Clemons, and that hurt dearly. And four years ago, the death of organist/accordion player Danny Federici dealt a heavy blow to this band of brothers. Charlie Giordano now plays the role of Danny with the E-Streeters. But how do you replace The Big Man? You don’t. You can’t. We DO know now that there is a five-piece horn section that includes Jack Clemons, Clarence’s son. That was a wonderful, honorable way to handle the situation. But how will the absence be addressed? Will the stool where Clarence had to sit for the last several tours be empty and spotlit? Will there be archival video? However Bruce decides to handle it, he has the Clemons family’s blessing and undoubtedly, it will be handled more than appropriately.
The two sold-out Philly shows on March 28 and 29 at the Wells Fargo Center are part of the first leg of the 2012 Wrecking Ball World Tour. Bruce said he was “pissed off” when he wrote the 11 new songs on the album (there are 13 songs total). In his words: “My work has always been about judging the distance between American reality and the American dream.” The album, out March 6, actually was available pre-release due to Bruce offering up a song a day online so concert-goers should have many of the lyrics down prior to the shows. Bruce and company opened up the Grammys with the anthemic “We Take Care of Our Own,” and it’s a great out-of-the-gate crowd rouser, so it’s quite possible that’s the way these shows could kick into gear. A particularly poignant moment will certainly happen during the performance of “Land of Hope and Dreams,” as that was Clarence’s last recorded sax solo for the group.
From Irish jigging to soulful rapping to Appalachian-style downbeat reflection, Bruce’s new music taps into the mood of the country, pinpointing the 99 percenters. Even the album cover looks “Occupy”-ish with its graffitied cover. It’s a reasonable expectation that a number of these songs will find their way into the upcoming shows.
Still in the E Street Band
Roy Bittan (keyboards)
Nils Lofgren (guitar/vocals)
Patti Scialfa (guitar/vocals)
Garry Tallent (bass)
Stevie Van Zandt (guitar/vocals)
Max Weinberg (drums)
Soozie Tyrell (violins/vocals)
Charlie Giordano (keyboards)
Springsteen’s last Philadelphia shows were the Final Farewell Shows at the old Spectrum in October 2009. The upcoming performances will mark his 52nd and 53rd shows performed at the complex. Philadelphia loves Bruce and he loves us right back. These shows will truly be bittersweet without Clarence.
March 28 & 29: 7:30 p.m. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19148. Tickets: SOLD OUT.