Friday, 18 January 2013

Because The Nightwatchman

I can't deny that the absence of Steve Van Zandt from the E Street Band during their tour of Australia in March is a huge disappointment.

Every time I've seen Bruce Springsteen and the band live his presence on stage has played a major part in bringing the crowd into the party and keeping them there.

Not that Springsteen ever needs any help in interacting with the tens of thousands of people he often plays to.

The man is the greatest front man I've seen and is renowned for making a concert of 80,000 people feel like a gig to 800 people with his approach to the fans and interaction with the band.

Van Zandt, centre, brings more than just his guitar to the E Street Band

He's often said himself that there live concerts are like one big party where they have a good time that they let their fans in on. And without question it works.

But with Van Zandt you don't just get an influential friendship that has shaped the band and Springsteen's music for decades, you also get this cheeky little brother who gets to work behind his Boss brother, keeping the audience going and flowing vital energy between Springsteen, the rest of the band and the people in the front rows and beyond.

He's a guy who seems constantly excited to be up there, and seeing that makes the rest of us just as excited to be there.

But although his unavailability for the Australian leg of the 2013 Wrecking Ball tour, due to Lilyhammer shooting commitments, Springsteen has brought a powerful replacement on board which really does make Van Zandt's absence bittersweet.

Tom Morello - The Nightwatchman - has an immense reputation and talent that leaves no one in any doubt he will be fantastic as a replacement guitarist for the nine concert dates in Australia.

Morello to the line-up is definitely putting more fuel on the fire.
And of course as he worked on the latest album it's fitting that he should be involved, as he was on many tour dates in 2012.

But as a full band member, albeit temporary cover for Van Zandt's Lilyhammer-nity leave, Morello brings a different edge to the anticipation of seeing the band live again.

Coming on as a special guest during the band's Hard Rock Calling concert in London's Hyde Park in July - the one where Springsteen and guest Sir Paul McCartney were unbelievably unplugged in the final song - Morello made his presence felt.

Blistering guitars and foot stomping in Wrecking Ball's  Death To My Home Town was an early treat in the set list but the anger and intensity he added, and brought out of Springsteen, during Ghost of Tom Joad was incredible. 

A highlight of the concert, I left with their rendition of that song in my head and it stayed there for weeks.

What Morello will bring to the band is more anger and power behind the themes that shape the Wrecking Ball album. 

They're not just keeping the E Street fire burning, they're throwing logs of dynamite on there.

Which means that a year after the album was first released, the frustration, heartache and fighting spirit that has been behind the music will not have waned.

Although I'm disappointed not to be seeing Van Zandt by Springsteen's side in March, the addition of Morello is both exciting and compelling. 

It's reminded me of the thing that I casually say to everyone who asks why I keep going to the Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band shows when I've already seen them - because they're never the same, you never quite know what to expect, but you do know you are going to be a part of something special.

Title track: Because The Night