Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bruce Springsteen and "Seeger Sessions Band"

Bruce Springsteen and his 17-piece "Seeger Sessions Band" took the 5,700 members of its sold-out Greek Theatre audience to church on a Monday night, delivering a rollicking concert that mixed spirituals and rousing political anthems in equal measure.

The two-and-a-half hour show was unlike any the 56-year-old Springsteen has ever performed, and the crowd responded with nothing short of jubilation, dancing, clapping and singing along to a set list that was dominated by songs from Springsteen's recent album, "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions," a collection of songs popularized by folk singer Pete Seeger.

The last time Springsteen swung through town with a band that didn't hail from E Street, it was 1992 when he played with a largely anonymous fill-in band during a three-night run at the Sports Arena. Fresh from breaking up the beloved E Street Band, Springsteen said he wanted to work with new musicians who would inspire fresh ideas. None of that was on display then.

Now, though, Springsteen has clearly found what he was looking for - and then some. Monday's concert was among the high points of the rocker's storied performance career with Springsteen and his ragtag band making a joyful noise that incorporated zydeco, bluegrass, ragtime, Tex-Mex, swing and Southern soul.

At times, Springsteen himself feigned ignorance at what he was about to play. Introducing a radically recast "Johnny 99" from "Nebraska," he said, "Here's a little folk punk." Before playing another old song, "Ramrod," he mumbled, "Tex-Mex, ska, polka, punk-funk ... I'm not sure what this is." How about all of the above?

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Bruce Springsteen


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