B is for Bruce.

The Birthday Book has this quotation:
“A spark neglected makes a mighty fire.”
– Robert Herrick

This sparked – HA! –  me thinking of Bruce Springsteen’s immortal Dancing in the Dark, and then – of course – his back catalogue rendered in 17th Century styles (‘This tale/a vale/does hail:/Ah me!/Mary,/the lea…’ ‘Upon Mary’s Dress’,  ‘To the Bootleggers, To Roll of their Tapes’, etc).

Then Bruce popped up in the news, dancing with his mum at a gig. I’ve thought he’s awesome since I was 9, and he’s still here, still going, still awesome.

Some more Springsteen to close below. Just need to mention that this post was almost set for yesterday, April 1st. I had a riff on the REM lyric (End of the world as we know it), apparently inspired by a dream about being at a party where everyone had the initials LB:

Leonard Bernstein,
Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs
Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom!

Right? Right. Except in my April Fool’s conceit of getting the letters wrong, and it not being true, it was people called BS – Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Sterling, Ben Stiller, Bill Stewart…)

Ultimately I decided against it, partly on the grounds of becoming personally confused by the concept (“So, is this going to be the actual A to Z post, or just a joke post?”), and mostly because I just wanted it to be all Bruce S.s… then it was pretty much straight away all Bruce.

K-Bruce, my FM station. “All Bruce! All the time!”

And a 1, a 2, a 1, 2, 3, 4.

I wasn’t kidding when I suggested that Civilization II was a menace to one’s productivity (which is down, so I suggest building a Factory). It has now been uninstalled, and normal life can resume. Let us never speak of it again.

Friday last, 22nd June 2012, to the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, UK, to watch Bruce Spingsteen and the E Street Band.

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the high esteem in which I hold The Boss. You might wish to cast an eye over this post, part of the interminable “25 albums that changed my life” series, on Born in the USA or the one about The Big Man, the late Clarence Clemons. If you’re on the Mortal Bath homepage, you could also click on the ‘hey ho rock n roll deliver me from nowhere’ tag, a Bruce quote that serves as one of my enduring prayers.

We arrived in a moderate fluster about five minutes after he was supposed to start, realised he hadn’t, sauntered in, grabbed a beer, made our way down to the pitch, looked around a bit and then he came on pretty much immediately. Timing’s everything. Venuewise, the stadium is a big prefab-looking number, everything one might expect from a building sponsored by an airline, with all the warm permanence of a concession stand in a Departure Lounge. Nice lines, just a bit plastic-looking.

Bruce, and the E Street Band, are more durable. With a combined age of about 10,500, they still played for pretty much three and a half hours. This is standard – they managed four and a half at a gig in Madrid. Watching the BBC’s Hackney Weekend festival footage over the weekend after, I was hard pushed to name more than about three artists that might be capable of or inclined to doing the same thing. Different ball parks, perhaps different leagues, perhaps not even the same sports.

Ah, look, anyway, Bruce was great. Sincerely uplifting, as a collective experience and as a personal experience. I couldn’t believe no one else around me was as excited that they played The E Street Shuffle!

Maybe they were, they just didn’t shriek with joy and do the Snoopy dance for 10 minutes.

The only thing I can add to any of this is a couple of clips, 20 minutes of performance, filmed by YouTube users LucyMearns and Outrightunlawful – thanks to whom for their sterling work. It’s all here: crowd dancing, James Brown-esque faux-fatigue, panto cameo by Miami Steve and his Magic Sponge, triumphant shirt removal, beautifully judged tribute to Clarence… oh, and two pretty amazing songs.

“Bootleggers! Roll your tapes!”

…and Hey ho, rock n roll! Delivering us from nowhere.