Monday, 8 July 2019

Probably, the second best live album in my collection

We all know that the greatest live album of all time is of course "Live 1975-85" by Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band. But three years before I bought that, I saw another live album at my local record store which captured my imagination and decided to buy it there and then: Rod Stewart's "Absolutely Live". One of the reasons why I decided to buy it was that it contained "Young Turks" from Rod's latest, at that time, studio album "Tonight I'm Yours". I had seen the video on Greek television, on a show called "Musicorama", with the lyrics translated. I was so moved by the story of Billy and Patti running away from home together (remember, I was a teenager at that time). Moreover, the album featured other Rod Stewart songs that I already knew: "Passion", "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" and, of course, "Sailing".
"Passion" I had heard on Greek radio, on the "Pop Club" show hosted by Yannis Petridis. This show, together with Greek music magazine "Pop + Rock" (also managed by Petridis) were my two main sources of information on pop and rock music. It was on "Pop + Rock" magazine that I learned about "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" even before I heard it. The reason? The readers of the magazine, almost all of them rock fans, were complaining about this song and also about "Miss You" by The Rolling Stones, accusing both artists of "selling out" by "going disco". All these years later both of these songs are considered classics and Greek rock fans are complaining about different things these days. As for "Sailing", well, I knew it, because it was already considered a classic back then.
However, by listening to the full album after I had bought it I got to discover other songs that I immediately fell in love with: "Tonight I'm Yours", "Tonight's The Night", "You're In My Heart", "Maggie May" and "I Don't Want To Talk About It" (later covered by Everything But The Girl who also covered Bruce Springsteen's "Tougher Than The Rest"). Also featured were "Stay With Me" with Kim Carnes and Tina Turner and a cover of "The Great Pretender", four years before Freddie Mercury covered it.
Moreover, I got to experience the feel of a big live concert something that I thought that I would never experience first-hand with so few rock concerts taking place in Greece. (I had only attended two concerts at that time, the most important being one by The Boomtown Rats - Bob Geldof's band). This is exactly the same way I felt four years later when I bought Bruce Springsteen's "Live 1975-85". I thought "I will never get to see him live". Fortunately, 22 years after buying "Live 1975-85" I finally saw Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band live in Paris. It took me 22 years for Bruce but, if all goes well, 36 years after I bought "Absolutely Live" I will finally see Rod Stewart this summer!

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Hard Rock Calling 2009 - Day 3 - Bruce Springsteen

Sunday the 28th of June 2009 was the third and final day of that year's Hard Rock Calling festival, but the first which had been announced and the first for which I had bought a ticket. On my Day 1 blog post I have already explained the thought process behind my decision to buy a ticket for that particular concert. The thing is that by the time I made that decision it had already been sold out. However, browsing through the Live Nation website I noticed a loophole: The VIP ticket, or, as it was officially named the "Club Experience". As it was my first time doing this, I inevitably made a mistake. Instead of buying the Club Experience I bought the Club Experience upgrade (which presupposed that I had already bought a normal ticket. I quickly realized that and the situation was remedied with a new purchase of the appropriate product and a phone call to Live Nation to explain my mistake and get a refund. Yes, old fashioned phone calls sometimes do work in such large organizations and refunds do get issued provided you wish to buy something that costs even more. The funny thing was that a while later, normal tickets for the Bruce Springsteen concert did reappear in the form of the "Weekend ticket", a combination of a standard ticket for Saturday (Neil Young) and a standard ticket for Sunday (Bruce Springsteen), but by then I had already bought both my Bruce Springsteen Club Experience and my Neil Young standard ticket. I would buy one more Club Experience, this time for the Killers concert on Friday which in similar fashion had already sold out by the time I found out about it. In hindsight, looking back at the way things turned out, I never regretted a minute of it.

So, on Sunday morning I had to get to Hyde Park before doors opened. This was a Bruce Springsteen concert, this was the Bruce Springsteen concert, it was no joke. It was a great consolation though, that I would avoid the queues as I would enter from a side entrance. I walked past the queues, stopping momentarily to observe them and then moved on toward the Club Experience entrance. There was not much sun as the day before but there were still quite a few people lying on the grass. The image that has stayed with me to this day, though, was the scantily clad guy doing his Sunday morning workout.

So after having a quick peek through the side to the still empty front of the stage, I got in, phoned my friends to see where they were (they had chosen a space close and to the left side of the stage, a decision that would prove to be ingenious a year later when the official DVD came out and turned out that this was the side of the stage the cameras were mostly filming the crowd from), found them and secured my place there. I only left my place once to go to the Club Experience area and get my special dinner. As more crowds were arriving the space around our places was quickly becoming crowded so there was no time to wander around Hyde Park soaking the "festival experience" or going to see some other artist playing at the other stage. I decided to stay put. At least I could sit down. I remember one lady trying to get to the front and shouting "Let me through! I'm trying to find my mother-in-law!" and I thought "That's suspicious! People usually try to get as far away as possible from their mothers-in-law"
After a lady coming up on stage and introducing the acts, things really started to get going with The Gaslight Anthem who were Bruce fans themselves and who many Bruce fans cited as one of their "favourite new bands" of the time.

And then Brian Fallon asked us "Who have you come to see tonight?" "Bruce Springsteen!" everyone of course replied. Some of us suspected what was going to happen, others could already see him in the sidelines, yes, Bruce came up onstage in his sunglasses and with his guitar to perform "The '59 Sound" with The Gaslight Anthem. Some of us had already learned that they had done the same thing the previous day at Glastonbury, but since I was busy watching Neil Young, I didn't know. So, the second time I saw Bruce Springsteen live actually came a bit earlier than expected.

Next it was the turn of James Morrison and during his set most of us took time to rest and lie down. Some people had warned us that he was boring. Looking back on the TV broadcast all those years later it was probably not so but if you are waiting for Bruce Springsteen everything else must seem boring.
And then it was time for the Dave Matthews Band. This, I wanted to see, mainly because I had seen him performing with The Rolling Stones on The Bridges To Babylon tour official videotape and later he would legally donate tracks to Napster while it was still a free service. I thought his set was a bit too long, did not enjoy it that much, but that was probably because we were all geared up for Bruce Springsteen.

And yes, now it was finally the moment we had been waiting for, all through this weekend: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band! Now, we were in London, the festival was called Hard Rock Calling, Bruce had played it live before, so I was actually expecting what happened: The first notes of "London Calling". 

Well, do I have to describe the rest of the concert? I don't think so, you have probably seen the original DVD. Let me then mention a few details:

The first thing we noticed was that Max Weinberg was back. His son, Jay Weinberg had replaced him on the first dates of the tour.
I got "Out In The Street" that I was expecting. Let me explain. While I was on the plane on my flight to London three days before, "Out In The Street" was stuck on my mind for some reason. "I can't get this out of my head" I told my friends. "That's the song I want to hear". To which they replied "Right now you are not 'Out In The Street', you are 'Up In The Air' actually".
We also got "No Surrender" this time with Brian Fallon repaying the favour and appearing beside Bruce
By this stage of the tour, Bruce had ditched most of the songs from "Working On A Dream" and kept only two, playing these for the rest of it: "Outlaw Pete" and the title track. So the tour had by now become a "Greatest Hits" tour. Perfect for a live DVD. And although this showed that maybe even Bruce did not think "Working On A Dream" was not such a great album (and a lot of fans thought so as well), you only have to watch the live DVD while Bruce is performing the title track with people waving their hands and then maybe you can come back and tell me that "Working On A Dream" is not a good album. I have already posted my thoughts on that back in January.

"Magic" was now almost completely forgotten, although some people considered this as a continuation of The Magic tour. Bruce however played "Radio Nowhere" on this particular night.
As I have mentioned above the place where we chose to stand was perfect. Not only most of us can be seen on the DVD, you can actually pinpoint where we are at several instants during the concert by spotting the Greek flag!

Behind us was an 18 year old guy with a request sign for "Jungleland". He was behind us, but still too far for Bruce to pick up his request while he was collecting them during "Good Lovin'". So he gave it to us and we passed it to the people in front of us and it finally reached Bruce who took it. I'll never forget the look on his face when Bruce and the band finally played it. (Plus, I'll never forget that I met an 18-year old who listens to Bruce Springsteen!)

On this post you will find the videos I had took on that day. They are useless of course as we now have the official DVD as a souvenir. They can only help to show what was really happening in the crowd where we were, how we were reacting or feeling and maybe to the perfectionists who would like to see if any changes were made or if any overdubs were added to the final mix.
Finally, the best fun I had during my first Bruce Springsteen concert the year before in Paris was the super extended version of "American Land" in the end. So when I heard the first notes of the song at Hyde Park I was over moon shouting something like "Step aside! I'm going to destroy everything in my way!" And as you can see in the DVD it was a super extended version. And then some. But here it was followed by "Glory Days" and "Dancing In The Dark".
And then it was over. The best fun we could have had with our clothes on. Indeed it was even better than that, since, as I commented on a fan forum the following day, it was "better than sex".

So, we woke up the next day, had a stroll through London, going to Tower Bridge and at HMV in Oxford Street where I bought a clear vinyl 7-inch of "The 59 Sound". 

But Bruce was not over for that year. We still had the Italian tour when "The Greeks" would "invade Rome"... 

01. London Calling
02. Badlands
03. Night
04. She's The One
05. Outlaw Pete
06. Out In The Street
07. Working On A Dream
08. Seeds
09. Johnny 99
10. Youngstown
11. Good Lovin'
12. Bobby Jean
13. Trapped
14. No Surrender (with Brian Fallon)
15. Waitin' On A Sunny Day
16. The Promised Land
17. Racing In The Street
18. Radio Nowhere
19. Lonesome Day
20. The Rising
21. Born To Run
22. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
23. Hard Times Come Again No More
24. Jungleland
25. American Land
26. Glory Days
27. Dancing In The Dark

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Hard Rock Calling 2009 - Day 2 - Neil Young

Saturday morning in London was a very hot one. But early in life we learn not to rely on British weather, don't we? So, we started making our way to Hyde Park quite early. Our goal was to catch the Pretenders. Because in my teens, Debbie Harry was my favourite blonde rock singer, but Chrissie Hynde was my favourite brunette.

I had a normal ticket this time, so we made our way to the normal entrance which was not too crowded today. There were lots more people sunning it out in the park though. After all, it was a Saturday morning!

The first thing we did when we entered was head straight for the bar, to get a beer! Yes, as I have already said, it was THAT hot!

As the last drops of our Tuborgs were being poured into our (plastic or paper - can't remember which) glasses we heard the first notes from the Pretenders coming from the stage. "Thank you for coming so early" Chrissie said, as they launched into a set of old favourites which also contained some new ones (the most notable being "Love's A Mystery" from their latest album at that time "Break Up The Concrete"). "Marry me, Chrissie" I said, after "Back On The Chain Gang", my favourite song of theirs.

After the Pretenders set was over there was now a lot of time to enjoy the "festival experience". We were walking around the grounds exploring all the facilities on offer. There was a stop to have a (paper) glass of Gaymers that was one of the festival sponsors. But Gaymers had also set up a "record shop" with lots of vinyl records on offer. What's more this also had a DJ who played songs and some people were dancing. Surprisingly, he even played Bruce Springsteen songs, surprisingly because he was due to appear on the following day. There was also time to check out the third stage, the "Bandstand".

After that we slowly gathered at the main stage where Ben Harper was just finishing his set. The "extremely hot Saturday morning" had now turned into an extremely overcast Saturday afternoon and it soon started raining. It looked serious, but gradually the rain went away and the weather was fine again by the end of the Fleet Foxes set.

Fleet Foxes were very good, but as I was looking through my files, I found out that I had no videos of them. What's more when I recently watched the Hard Rock Calling 2009 highlights TV broadcast there were neither clips nor interviews of the band either. Needless to say, there were very good and provided a nice warm up for Neil Young.

Finally it was time for Neil Young to come on stage. His latest album at that time was "Fork In The Road" (not bad) but he only played one song off it ("Get Behind The Wheel"). Instead he treated us to a "best of" set including songs from his solo career and several originally recorded with Crazy Horse. There was a super extended version of "Down By The River" and the biggest moment was the finale of the main set: "Rockin' In The Free World". Oh, and did I mention the sheer size of his amplifier?

But before he left, there was still one surprise in store for us: Paul McCartney came up on stage and together they performed "A Day In The Life" (There was a video of "A Day In The Life" on the DVD accompanying the deluxe version of "Fork In The Road" actually). The funny thing is that, I have attended Hard Rock Calling festival twice, and both times Paul McCartney has appeared on stage as a guest (In 2012 he performed with Bruce Springsteen).

And so it was on this note, after having seen one half of The (remaining) Beatles as a bonus that the 2nd day of Hard Rock Calling ended. The following day was the big day: Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band!

01. Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)
02. Mansion On The Hill
03. Are You Ready For The Country?
04. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
05. Spirit Road
06. Words (Between The Lines Of Age)
07. Cinnamon Girl
08. Fuckin' Up
09. Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)
10. The Needle And The Damage Done
11. Comes A Time
12. Unknown Legend
13. Heart Of Gold
14. Old Man
15. Down By The River
16. Get Behind The Wheel
17. Rockin' In The Free World
18. A Day In The Life (with Paul McCartney)