Springsteen on Broadway last night! (And Crimson on Broadway 37 years ago.)
Happy to see the Fripperblog back rolling for a while. Took my 20-year-old son to see Bruce Springsteen in a solo acoustic performance last night. The first thing that jumped out at me was the (compared to even Crimson) strict, strongly communicated policy regarding e-gadgets in general (I would LOVE to post the only photo I took last night: a photo of the venue 'rules' they handed out, and which were remarkably convergent with Crimson/Fripp's). Of note was that photos WERE allowed during the bows, when the house lights came up (though security guards lined parts of the stage to ensure there wasn't some giant crush as Bruce shook hands with folks in the front couple of rows). FAR more important, however, was the evening itself. I hate the term "show" for musical performances, but even the word "performance" seems crude. Without the phones and gadgets held aloft, we very quickly were ushered into a zone that I probably can't put into words. But in that zone the performance kind of outsided-in: From the start it flipped from "famous rockstar tells stories from his life and plays hit songs" to something else entirely, and something desperately important for this time and in this place, something I can't describe very well but that was liminal and intensely HUMAN. I wish I could put it into words, but every time I do it just seems crude and banal. But the point being that it simply can't be a coincidence that something like last night occurred, with almost no photography occurring.* It was also a very long and difficult process to get tickets (including a multiple-round lottery), so everyone there really had to "work" the process to get tickets. For me it was particularly important, because for a variety of reasons I wanted my son to experience precisely what we experienced last night, and how a legitimate musical moment can sometimes allow you to peer into a world you didn't even know existed. Which reminds me...Fripp wrote... <blockquote> Nevertheless, to have one set of this standard is rare. I remember the first four KC shows, in two consecutive nights of six, at the Savoy in NYC, November 5th. & 6th., 1981… So outstanding I remember them, </blockquote> And I remember one of those nights too, as if it were yesterday, similar to last night with Bruce. In my case I find that those special, liminal performances don't seem to get stored in the same "memory" as spectacles, or even a performance that was meticulously well-performed but stamped-out licenseplate-style. If I try very hard, I can remember the non-liminal ones I attended, but more as almost as memorized facts and figures (like "The State Capital of New Jersey is Trenton" or "I once attended a Jewel show my company sponsored"). But back to Bruce: it seems obvious to me that last night's no-photography policy was aimed towards the exact same experience as Fripp and Crimson are aiming for through their nearly identical policy. And having tasted plenty of spectacle AND occasional bursts of liminal bliss, I know which I prefer. There's really no comparison: one tastes like it came out of a can packed by a machine 2 years ago and the other tastes like the ingredients were pulled right out of the ground before being incorporated into a meal by a skillful, passionate cook: you can often see it immediately just by looking at it...it kind of glows. And if you don't believe me just go have a meal in a say, a Piedmontese mountain in northern Italy: you'll quickly understand why there can be fistfights over food in parts of Italy: they simply won't tolerate imitations. * An interesting exception to the non-photography was the middle-aged uber-fan sitting two seats over from me. She took one discreet photo (causing me to wince at her). Because we were sitting (from the audience's perspective) pretty far to the right (3rd row), she was sitting sideways. As she crossed and uncrossed her legs, her shoe brushed my pantleg perhaps a dozen times. It didn't stop until I brushed the potential dust off my pantleg and glared at her again.