I was a little concerned that there would be a small
crowd for this show
because it was a late addition to the tour. My fears were
dismissed when I drove by the Theatre an hour before the show to see a line
going out of the
Theatre and down the street. This was a nice sight (except
for the fact
that it was general admission, and I was not at the front
of that line).
Bruce walked on stage at about 20 minutes past 7:00 in an orange t-shirt covered with a red dress shirt, brown pants and all black sneakers. He looked energetic and happy to be there, considering it was his fourth consecutive show. Perhaps the thought of a day off following the show was enough motivation. The band went straight into a fine version of "Horses", which set the tone for the evening. Bruce seems to particularly enjoy playing "Give it Away;" (you really believe him when he sings, "it only lives when you.....give it away.") the audience responded enthusiastically to the intro and he smiled throughout the song. After "Normal," a woman yelled out, "Happy early birthday, Bruce!" He smiled and thanked her. The crowd this night was a bit "chatty" (I'm being kind).
The way that the balcony is set up; there are a couple of seats that run along the side wall, stage right, that are rather close to the stage and in full view of the rest of the theatre. There, sat a blonde woman in some sort of leather outfit. Although, she didn't sit for long. She stood and danced most of the night; while yelling to Bruce in between most of the songs. In fact, she talked DURING a few as well. After "Look How Far" (which she apparently believed was written exclusively for her) she screamed "Play it again!" To which Bruce replied, "You gotta quit while you're ahead....I mean, I do." The next song was "Let the Bad Air Out." Again, the audience really got a kick out of the ending and Bruce's vocal range. At song's completion, the balcony blonde once again feels compelled to say something. She yells out, "Hey Bruce, sign my C.D.!" Bruce says, "Excuse me?" So the woman repeats it, and Bruce replies, "Not at this moment; but, maybe if we could find a more suitable place and time." Predictably, this got quite a rise out of the crowd and left the woman speechless (if only it had lasted).
"Delta" was fantastic! Here's a guy who is a brilliant lyricist who can also bring down the house without uttering a word. By just letting the instrument do the talking, he brought the crowd to a frenzy. We ate it up! Steve Lucas' bass solo and Ben Riley's thundering drum work were just as impressive. They had everyone mesmerized.
Just before intermission, Bruce mentioned that he hoped to see everyone back there afterwards. Judging by the reaction to the first set, nobody was going anywhere. My wife and niece, who were seeing Bruce for the first time, were loving every minute of it. It was also nice to see all of the kids there with there parents. Bruce returned to the stage 30 minutes later and asked if everyone felt "rested"; before going into "Pacing the Cage." The audience cheered, and settled in for a much anticipated second set.
Before playing the new instrumental, Bruce said, "I get the feeling that some of you have seen me on this tour already" (crowd laughs). "If so, you're probably feeling Deja Vu" (he laughs). "Since the last time, this song has acquired a title (the crowd cheers), it's called 'The End of All Rivers." (the crowd roars in approval).
After playing "Mango," Bruce stepped to the mic and announced, "We're going to take an unscheduled intermission here on account of I have to take a leak." I should note that he did this in the Keene, N.H. show as well (Yes Bruce, this is Deja Vu!). The crowd reaction was about the same as in Keene (stunned, and then laughter). When Bruce returned, the crowd applauded; to which Bruce responded with a grin, "It's really not necessary to applaud." I once again give kudos to the guy for telling it like it is. Even if it is more than we need to know. What can you say? He knows how to get a laugh.
Before playing "Fools," Bruce explained that since there were so many people who had already seen the tour; he would not go into great detail about the origins of the song. I figured this meant he would shorten the intro.. Instead, he simply went right into the song, without any explanation. I didn't mind, though someone behind me felt cheated. "What about those of us who haven't heard it?" I heard him say.
Just before "Friends," someone yelled out, "Free Bird!" (this also happened at the Keene show). Bruce replied, "It could only be one person." I assume that this is a guy who follows the tour around and yells "Free Bird!" when the mood strikes him. Or maybe Bruce remembered that from the Keene show. Either way, it's no longer humorous (are you listening?). In fact, a good portion of the crowd chatter between songs is, in my opinion, annoying. Song requests are O.K., I guess, but there is a time to be quiet and let the artist perform. Fortunately, Bruce is good natured and tolerant; and either laughs it off, or ignores it completely. Although, I can't help feeling that Bruce avoided talking too much about the songs because every break in the music was met with people's attempts at being "witty."
At one point, during the first encore, the typical requests were being hurled towards the stage when Bruce said, "I can't believe noone asked for this one." He then performed "Dialogue" to perfection. I love how the band stands by during this song, letting Bruce go solo, until the very end when he sings "Why don't we celebrate" over and over. Then Steve and Ben suddenly join in and It's like a waterfall of light and sound crashing down on the audience; emphasizing the intent of the last lines.....WHY DON'T WE CELEBRATE!!!!! It almost makes you want to stand up and testify, Southern Baptist style.
Before "Blueberry Hill," Someone yelled out amid the requests, "I hope you weren't thinking about leaving." Bruce replied, "Not at this particular moment." Finally, after a gorgeous "Diamonds," (which was also spiritually powerful and moving to me on this night) Bruce approached the mic and said, "Now I'm thinking about leaving;" and, after thanking us for coming, he walked off the stage, leaving behind a satisfied and grateful audience.
The Palace Theater is a small venue (seems about 500) in
Manchester, NH. The show looked pretty much sold out.
Bruce opened with a
song that I was unfamiliar with (which is embarrassing for
a 20+year fan).
He followed with "When You Give It Away" and proceeded to
play 10 of the 11
songs on his new release "Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner
(missing only "Deep Lake"). This is arguably his best CD
He also sprinkled in some older stuff, such as "If I Had A Rocket Launcher" which he sang as passionately as any other song of the evening. "Pacing the Cage" was great, as was "The Trouble with Normal", "All The Diamonds", "Isn't That What Friends Are For" and "Call It Democracy".
The highlight of the evening was definitely "Down To The Delta" where Bruce showed his guitar prowess and featured the incredible 6-string bass playing of Steve Lucas and drumming by Ben Riley that brought back memories of Carl Palmer (ELP). By the way, no one was having a better time than Ben throughout the night. I hope he isn't getting paid, too!!
Early on in the concert, a fan sitting in the wings asked Bruce if he would sign her CD, to which he replied "Not now. But at the appropriate time and place, I might."
When he finished playing "Look How Far" one of the audience yelled for him to play it again. His response was "I'd rather quit while I'm ahead". I would have liked to hear it again myself.
The band played about an hour and fifteen minutes, took a 25 minute break. Returned to play again and two songs later, after "Mango", Bruce had to take an impromptu break because in his own words "I really got to take a piss". When he returned to applause he remarked "I hope you aren't applauding that!"
Bruce played a total of about 2.5 hours, including 2 encores which each featured a couple of songs. Sorry I didn't make a set list.
I am ashamed to say that this is my first Bruce concert. I don't think I will miss him again. I have always been a huge fan of his songs and his singing, but was most impressed by his guitar playing method - no pick, always finger picking.
See pictures from this show at Marie's Page.