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The Big Man Was a Friend of Mine

19 Jun

Clarence Clemons was known as the Big Man, largely because — at 6 feet, 5 inches tall and 270-plus pounds — he was literally a big man.

But the nickname was appropriate because, on stage, Clarence had a presence that was bigger than life.

He wasn’t showy or over the top like some other rock stars — including his bandleader and friend, Bruce Springsteen. But he was always cool, always just to Bruce’s right, waiting to pick up his sax and do his thing.

And when Clarence got up to play … Wow.

This man of few words, this gentle giant, let his instrument do all the talking. When Clarence took center stage for one of his solos, it was a transcendent experience.

Every time you heard “Jungleland” live, it was awe-inspiring. Stunning. Powerful. An out-of-body experience.

One of my favorite parts of any Springsteen show.

So it goes without saying that the loss of Clarence Clemons Saturday night, due to complications from a stroke one week earlier, was a huge loss — for the music world and for me personally. Continue reading

Life Was Good

31 Dec

Generally, I’m not a fan of New Year’s Eve, but this year especially, I’m not looking forward to it at all.

You see, unlike many people I know, and contrary to general trends in the economy, 2009 was a great year for me. Really and truly it was.

So perhaps I jumped the gun when I called 2008 “The Year of Martin” because I enjoyed 2009 so much more.

Here are some of the reasons why. Continue reading

He’s the One

23 Aug

It was a hot night on Saturday at the Comcast Center (formerly the Tweeter Center, formerly Great Woods), but just like he’s done so many times before, Bruce Springsteen brought the power and didn’t let a silly little thing like 80-degree-plus heat get in the way of a great show.

He even replaced his familiar call of “Is there anybody alive out there?” with “Is it hot enough for you?”

But that wasn’t the only departure from the script — he frequently shook up his planned setlist, playing songs out of their intended order and inserting a few extra requests along the way.

It added up to an experience that felt significantly different from the shows I saw back in April (night one and night two). Continue reading

This One Was For Us

23 Apr

Where to start about night two of Bruce Springsteen’s two-night homestand at the TD Banknorth Garden?

The show was longer (just about exactly three hours); it had more of an emphasis on his older, less mainstream material; the band covered “I Wanna Be Sedated”; I had a better seat; and man oh man, can that Jay Weinberg play!

And as if that wasn’t enough, the Dropkick Murphys joined Bruce on stage for the encore, amping up an already boisterous “American Land.”

Oh, and did I mention Jay Weinberg and his amazing skills on the drums?

Wow. Continue reading

Meet Him in the Land of Hope and Dreams

22 Apr

“I will provide for you, and I’ll stand by your side,” Bruce Springsteen sang at one point during his show Tuesday night at the TD Banknorth Garden. “You’ll need a good companion for this part of the ride.”

Over the course of almost three hours, Springsteen was that companion, taking the audience through hard times and to salvation, raising us up on his shoulders, and showing us that there are brighter days ahead.

As always, it was a thrilling, exciting, exhausting show, one that was light on promotion for his latest album and heavier on barn burning revivalism. Continue reading

Best. Halftime. Show. Ever.

2 Feb

Bruce definitely lived up to the hype. Here is his halftime show (in two parts) if you missed it … or want to watch it again.

Ready for BRUUUUUUUUCE !!!

30 Jan

“We want it to be a 12-minute party,” Bruce Springsteen said during a press conference on Thursday to talk up his performance this Sunday during the Super Bowl halftime show.

“The idea of the show is, you are going to the Meadowlands, you get lost on the way. You are watching your clock, ‘Damn, the show is starting right now.’ You stop at a bar to get some directions, and the bar gets held up while you are there. So that takes another 45 minutes to get out of there. You come back and you miss your exit on the turnpike, and you are driving to get back around. And so you make it into the stadium 2 hours and 48 minutes into the show — that’s what you are going to see: the last 12 minutes.”

And to think … I was already looking forward to Bruce before. Now I’m even more excited.