There is a beauty to the perfect live show that can linger with us for the rest of our days. Sometimes the show can be legendary (Radiohead in a club before they got huge) or just deeply personal (Elvis Costello solo with Steve Nieve, singing his filthy heart out). The perfect live show defines not only us, but the times we live in. Can you think of the young Elvis Presley swiveling his hips and not think of the ’50s? Or an androgynous David Bowie made up as Ziggy Stardust, an iconic performance and persona of the early ’70s? We are living in history and even if we don’t recognize it, the shows we see today will have some resonance tomorrow. As part of Spectrum Culture’s examination of the decade about to pass us by, I am pleased to share with you our recollection of what very well could be the Gig of the Decade. – David Harris, Editor-in-Chief

Tortoise and the Sea and the Cake
Somewhere near Florence, Italy, 03/01

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In early spring of 2001, The Sea and Cake and Tortoise came to Florence, Italy, where I was lucky enough to be loafing around on a bicycle with my backpack full of college notes and oily ciabatta bread. Sometimes a concert proves memorable because of the conditions surrounding it, which in this case would certainly stand to reason: It was my 20th birthday, my buddies and I had all piled ourselves onto a public transit bus leaving from the Gypsy polestar, Santa Maria Novella Station, to find our way out to the industrial stretch skirting town where air was full of airport smells. But besides our being geysers of post-adolescent giddiness, we truly were privy to a singularly beautiful show that night.

I couldn’t recall the venue’s precise name or address if you paid me, but we were no more than a crowd of 50 and the space’s convivial minimalism seemed fatefully designed for the strains of Krautrock, cool jazz and prog on outer-Firenze’s jet fuel scented winds. Tortoise opened with a set so mesmerizing that I wondered if the two bands weren’t putting the cart before the horse… but there was no diminuendo in the intoxicating ambience as the mellow-hued Sea and Cake took the stage and wooed us just as adeptly. This little show was an immaculate meeting of the minds. The musicians wore soft, beatific smiles at moments as they played, and they were very nicely turned out, though I didn’t commit much to sartorial memory beyond the Sea and Cake’s crisp, tucked button-downs and an understated tie or two. Tortoise’s Jeff Parker was a veritable totem of elegance and Sam Prekop’s face was a delight to behold as he hit all the palest, most airy notes in his register. Between Tortoise’s tiers of languorous vibraphones and The Sea and Cakes’ breezy, taut melodies, the aesthetic compliment was so pat and compelling that everyone made off with a mild, golden morsel of that era’s Thrill Jocky construct, forever pinned to our hearts. – Joan Wolkoff [Photo: Pirlouiiiit – Liveinmarseille.com]

Sigúr Rós
Beacon Theatre, New York, NY, 9/24/01

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I lived in New York City on 9/11. It was my first day of graduate school, my class scheduled to begin at 6pm that evening. I had only lived in New York for a few weeks, about 20 miles from Ground Zero. I was reading a book when my mother called and told me to turn on the television. My girlfriend at the time, a teacher in the Bronx, had to walk more than 50 blocks to find a bus to get her home safely. All I remember is confusion. People wandered the city streets the days after the attack. Candles burned on the corners while guitarists sat out and played songs. Then there were the pictures of the missing. They clogged the walls of the subway stations, desperate pleas from aggrieved family members searching for lost loved ones. It’s as if Ground Zero represented the heart of all New Yorkers. A big hole had been punched into us by that devastating act of murder.

Music has the power to heal. Many bands scheduled to play in New York either canceled or postponed shows in condolence to the city. My tickets for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were pushed back to May. Nick said there was something wrong about performing while so many people ached and needed to be with families. But, just 13 days after the tragedy, Iceland’s Sigúr Rós brought their crystalline music to a place that needed it most.

At the time, Sigúr Rós saw its star rising from the success of Ágætis Byrjun. Not nearly the mainstream act that now pops up on soundtracks or inspired dozens of imitators, this show highlighted a young band at its peak. The oddly titled () release was only a few months away and the band took the opportunity to play these still unreleased tracks.

I sat in the balcony. The band took to the dark stage and launched into “Vaka,” the first track from (). As the beauty of that song flowed over the crowd, its warm light seemed to penetrate each and every heart, healing that crack and that pain from two weeks prior. South of us, as the collective scream of those who died still filtered over the city, the breathless voice of Jonsi Birgisson placated those scared voices of the deceased. It seemed in that instant, Sigúr Rós shepherded the dead to the other side, finally allowed them to rest in peace.

It was a show shrouded in mystery. Darkness engulfed the band for most of the set as obscure images of fetal faces and birds played on a screen behind. A searchlight stalked across the audience, a beam like the Eye of Sauron that blinded us for moments at a time. Could they be searching out the sadness?

Over the course of the 11 song set, Sigúr Rós brought in moments of tenderness and tragedy. As songs such as “Svefn-g-englar” swaddled the audience in the rocking rhythm of the womb, the most dramatic moments came at the end. Finishing with the untitled pair that go by “Death Song” and “Pop Song,” Sigúr Rós took a languid opening and turned it into a whoosh and a rush of chaos and noise. As Birgisson’s falsetto scream rang out over the cacophony of the wall of sound, the band performed not only a concert, but an exorcism. Perhaps the impact of two metal flying machines into manmade towers of glass and steel will be the most iconic image of the decade. New York City needed something like Sigúr Rós after such a horrible event. Catharsis is important in the healing process. It’s a shame they couldn’t fit everyone, alive and dead, inside the Beacon that wonderful evening. – David Harris [Photo: Max Knies]

Queens of the Stone Age
Theater of the Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA, 05/29/02

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There are things that only fanboys/girls will remember from that particular tour. Almost every venue seemed to have some kind of pole obstructing original bassist Nick Oliveri from the sight of the kids gathered for the show. The buzz surrounding each city’s stop seemed to bring out the local rock royalty, such as Seattle’s show, where Courtney Love, Mark Arm and others could be seen hanging at the bar, imbibing refreshments during what seemed to be, throughout the country and therefore the tour, an absurdly hot spring. There was no opening act except for the perplexing DJ C-Minus, a bored twenty-something white kid who stood, center stage at a turntable, spinning records like the Dead Kennedy’s “I Am the Owl” and the Cars’ “Bye Bye Love,” each rock song more familiar than the next, eventually really irritating the larger group of people who’d come to this hyped Californian band’s show for one reason, one everyone would remember: Dave Grohl would be behind the drum kit.

As the one-two punch of Queens of the Stone Age and Rated R redefined the notion of what a hard rock band could be, the hype surrounding Queens of the Stone Age bubbled over when it became known that Grohl would make a public return to the same role he played in Nirvana. That evening, lit predominantly in red, QOTSA tore through early hallmark songs (“Mexicola”), explored their jammier side (“Better Living Through Chemistry”), treated fans to b-sides (“Ode to Clarissa”), and more importantly, introduced their Songs for the Deaf material. Long passed around online via an awful-sounding live MP3, here was “Go With the Flow” before it became the soundtrack to a buzzworthy video, as well as the jumpy “No One Knows,” long before its treads wore thin on the alternarock highway. On “God is in the Radio,” Josh Homme’s guitar poured slow like molasses, while Mark Lanegan (appearing like Mephisto onstage for only his handful of songs during the night) groaned strange incantations. Until this day, I have not seen a band as tight as the one who took the stage that night playing loud, intense rock ‘n’ roll, so rhythmically in-step, it sounded like the work of robots. This line-up was undoubtedly QOTSA’s peak, a band, who at their best, were alternately hilarious and frightening, transcendent and sarcastic and as good as any band you’ve ever seen live. – Chris Middleman [Photo: Elena Garcia]

John Prine and Iris Dement
Aerial Theatre, in Houston, Texas, 09/28/02

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I grew up on John Prine, his gravelly, warbly voice was a constant in the Davis household. Between Prine and Tom Waits, it’s no wonder I grew up to have such a cynical outlook on-life. There has always been for me a strange comfort to be had in both Prine’s voice and his words, his unique sense of humorous optimism filtered through the lens of cynicism was and continues to be something I can get behind. Because while Prine loves to criticize tricksters and con artists, otherwise known as politicians and religious fanatics, he has an undeniable love for humanity at its core. He understands that for all of our flaws, all of our weaknesses, we are basically good and just in search of a little bit of guidance.

When it was announced that John Prine had contracted throat cancer, it wasn’t that it was necessarily a surprise to anyone (how else would Prine have managed to get a voice like his but through constant smoking?) but it was in a way shocking. Prine is one of those singer-songwriters who you just expect to live forever, who sounded ancient even when he was young. The fact that he managed to overcome cancer and keep his voice intact was astonishing enough, but when he resumed touring again and came through Houston while I was living there, it became absolutely necessary for my parents and I to see him, not out of a sense of that macabre “catch him while he’s still alive” sentiment so many people have about older artists but instead out of a sense of honor, a chance to recognize what he’d achieved and to be there to participate in the glory of it. Although I had never seen Prine live before that night, my dad played his albums to death all throughout my childhood, enabling me to feel that I’d easily be able to pick up on any difference in his voice. I thought that even though there wasn’t any chance Prine could possibly recreate them after what he’d been through, I knew his new experiences would add an even richer subtext to his music.

While the latter was undeniably true, Prine quickly revealed himself to have lost nothing during his battle. If anything, his voice had taken on a richer timbre, now closer to Johnny Cash’s range than the more nasally pitch he had before. Prine obviously felt well enough to even back Iris Dement during her opening set, perhaps to preemptively pay her back for her beautiful additions to his catalogue during his performance. The two performed the entire show without the safety of a full backing band, the numbers sparse and whittled down to their most basic elements, Dement’s backing vocal work the only real change to Prine’s canon.

It’s difficult, really, to imagine the songs played any other way; while Prine’s recorded output has always had excellent backing from a rich cast of sessions musicians, his work has always been about simplicity. Hearing the opening picked chords of “Sam Stone” echo off the walls of the strangely intimate Aerial Theatre is still one of my favorite musical memories, as is Prine’s rambunctious performance of “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” or more specifically the look on my mom’s face throughout it and all that took was Prine’s words and guitar. Dement added a strange grace to the proceedings, enabling Prine to reach an even higher state of emotion on the beautifully somber “Hello in There” and enriching “Donald and Lydia” by allowing it to become a sweet duet in her hands. And of course, Dement more than held her own on “Angel from Montgomery,” making the song haunting and plaintive where other singers have merely hit the notes.

The show was one of those rare performances that just leaves you feeling so glad to be alive, so glad to be able to experience life and all its complexity. Prine barely mentioned his health, it was as if it was a non-issue for him and he was just doing what he’s always been doing, strumming a guitar and stringing together words. But it was impossible to not feel overwhelmed by hope while watching him, you couldn’t help but be captivated by the strength he had shown and his sheer endurance. Prine’s music had always helped me put my own experiences in perspective, but his performance had granted me a certainty and an optimism that had not been there before. Of course it was impossible to know then that in a little less than a year, my mom would be facing a similar battle as Prine had. It was an incredibly difficult time for my family and me but I like to think that the show my parents and I saw Prine put on strengthened us, provided us with the knowledge that people don’t just survive through difficulties, they overcome them and rise above. – Morgan Davis [Photo: Peter H. Li]

Flogging Molly
Hess Rec Center, Fairbanks, AK, 10/03/02

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Technically, the first concert I ever attended was the Little River Band at the Tanana Valley State Fair when I was in middle school. Flogging Molly was something different, something new. It was punk, but it wasn’t punk, there was something more. That Irish, Celtic flair was the catalyst for my nerd obsession with punk and ska music that would follow me through my high school years. Upon finding out that Flogging Molly would be playing the University of Alaska Fairbanks, I bought tickets without knowing how much they cost.

The day of the concert I drove the half hour into town, and waited with a group of friends in line for the show to start. It would become the perfect storm of a concert for me. The Hess Rec Center sits at the nexus of three dorms, each containing at least 300 students. Tickets were printed on blue construction paper, and easily forged at Kinkos. The room itself is only designed to hold a little over 200 people, that night there were easily twice that. Those who couldn’t get in stood outside rear doors that opened to the stage, where the band would smoke, and occasionally smuggle more kids into the show.

There was no opening band, Flogging Molly strolled up on stage, and went into high gear. A mosh pit immediately appeared in front of me. The youth of Fairbanks had rarely had the opportunity or the motivation to mosh, but they were throwing elbows and shoving like the best of them while deafening Irish punk flowed over the crowd. As the band continued to suck down Guinness, the crowd took in every note, and sang every lyric about pirates, regret, history and loss. Three hours later, the show was over, and my ears rang, my body was bruised and sore, and my life was changed. It was my musical awakening. – Nicholas Ryan [Photo: Paul Galipeau]

TV Smith (w/ World/Inferno Friendship Society; The Black Freighter)
ICC, Allston, MA, 3/21/2003

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Lord knows it’s never easy to imagine a life in punk rock. A long life, I mean, a full life, the way you imagine a life in architecture, or literary editing or floral arrangement. The iconography of the thing demands, if not a spectacular flameout, at least a powerful association with a time and a place – best, a two-year span between someone’s 15th and 17th year – and a quiet retirement, talking-head reminiscence on a nostalgic VHS-footage compilation, maybe a brief reunion tour with a substitute drummer. You need to disappear from view, like Patti Smith in her married years; kill off a lead singer; or relax into the quasi-retirement of an annual Warped-Tour-Main-Stage greatest hits set.

There were a few years during my time with World/Inferno Friendship Society during which it seemed we were the go-to band for pairing with (mostly British) past-punks: New Model Army; who’d still play for thousands in Europe but barely break three figures in America. That guy from the Alarm. Wreckless Eric.The Dead Kennedys, minus Jello. The astonishing Subhumans, a rare flower who’d lost neither their bloom nor their thorn. Some regrouping, some still going, all requiring some version of explanation: “You know, that one song? By that one band? Yeah, they’re touring. Crazy, right?”

Such is the fate of us all, one supposes, and best to start psychically preparing sooner than later; while we’re still arrogant and spitting, when we jump on stage like a spider on a cricket, all fangs and bloodlust. The old saw about how you act on the way up and on the way down is useful advice in a general way but bears as much utility in the geometrical confusion of music careers as 2+2=4 does to calculating the surface area of an irregular sphere. So somewhere along your ellipse, you cross planes with a possible future and judge its utility, maybe compare your trajectory.

TV Smith? Singer and songwriter for the Adverts, one of the many almost-was squibs of the British punk summers of the late ’70s. “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes” was the hit: a quasi-novelty horror-story about waking up with the posthumously donated eyes of the then-famous serial killer. “Crossing The Red Sea” was the record: pungent punk pop, smart, ironic, earnest; tapping all the touchstones, bored teenagers, drowning, bombed, on board the great British mistake; but prophesying a new church, a new day.

And then what? The “difficult” second record, it’s easy to say, but for whatever reason, the band, like so many of its and everyone’s era, was finished in three years; and filed in the hive-mind into Stiff Records anthologies and “Class of ’77” anthologies. But who’s to say when someone else has passed into postlogue, and TV married his bandmate, kohl-eyed Gaye Advert, and spent the next 25 years making records of acoustic protest in the Billy Bragg mode; his place in music history written, assured, in a way; but his place in the present uncertain, somewhere between living icon and traveling, struggling songwriter, but not really near to either. His songs were songs of frustration, too: This year, next year, sometime, never. Any day now, we may scratch that itch, and join the immortal rich. Someday my string will snap. It’s expensive being poor, but I look good when I get desperate. I remember – the future used to be better. Are they explicit self-commentary, reckoning, analysis, motivational monologue? Sometimes you think so: “Your glamour fades so quick, soars up like a rocket, down like a stick…Stand and say, I am the lion and the lamb, I am part of the plan.” But frustration is a tool for a songwriter, and maybe there’s a sweet spot wherein you have enough success to where people know who are, but not so much that you can relax. And you can hear the head-down, gritted-teeth forward motion in the records, and see it in the relentless touring: cheaply and quickly made; the songs themselves crystalline but the casing plastic; two-men-in-a-studio productions with the kind of keyboard overdubs and drum programming that a fan has to excuse and a newcomer try and peek past. One a year or so, relentless, something to justify the tours, to structure the life. I see a similar pattern in Mark Eitzel’s grab-bag of wilderness-years solo records: electronics, sure; what-the-hell collaborations; re-recordings of old hits, why not.

And so by the time we toured with him, he was pushing 50, white-haired, black-browed; lean, tendons whip-clenched like a greyhound. He traveled in a compact rental car with his booking agent/tour manager. His baggage, as far as I could tell, consisted in full of one acoustic guitar, one pair skin-tight black jeans, and two black tank-tops, logoed with his own records: “Generation Y” (a Y in an circle, Internet-age anarchy, like a suburban vegan talking dumpster-diving on a message board) and “Useless.” Aside from a few New York-area shows the year before, he hadn’t toured in the US in an awfully long time. And World/Inferno, while special in many ways, didn’t have much in the way of fans south of Philadelphia.

But there he stood, for a week of shows at the Pontiac Grille, upstairs at the Velvet Lounge, to 10 or less at the old 929 in Richmond: the lowest rungs of the Eastern seaboard rock world, all six-foot-plus, one-twenty-minus of meerkat focus; singing anthems of his youth and troubles of our shared present (one of the better – only? – pre-Iraq War protests, “Not In My Name”).
And an odd, wry summation and recitation he called “My Punk-Rock Poem”, presented here in full:

It was strange being in a punk rock band, people gobbed at us, then shook us by the hand.
We played every toilet in our green and slimy land. First of all, for 15 quid. Then later on, a grand.
30 days of madness touring with the Damned, turning up to soundcheck to find out we’d been banned. Driving back to London in the mini van.

Didn’t get to the USA as planned. And looking back, we didn’t change the music scene a lot. But we did have one hit single & supported Iggy Pop, & sometimes people tell me that The Adverts changed their lives. And that’s nice. It was great being in a punk rock band.

Staring at the stars in the parking lot with musicians twenty or more years his junior, and their hangers-on, boyfriends and girlfriends, fielding earnest, if shyly guarded, queries and tests: “You probably saw the Pogues, right? Just wondering what they were like then, ‘cuz we get compared to them sometimes…” To which, kindly, like swatting a kitten: “Like Pogue Mahone? No, they were a menace…You guys are more like Dexys.”

The penultimate show of the tour – which we’d dubbed, after his “March of the Giants,” the “March of World/Inferno & Mr. T.V. Smith” – was a church basement in Allston, outside Boston; a snapshot in its way of a punk scene that always seemed on the verge of eating its own tail, two or three dozen well-dressed message board habitues with half-fictional skinhead troubles and shared, sloppy sexual episodes, dreadlocks and drama, self-seriousness & suicide attempts. We drank red wine from a tea set at the local Asian joint; descended into the anonymous, white-painted concrete basement, already wet with condensation, teens in $5 suits congealing and separating, water bottles full of – no, not urine, probably malt liquor. Cafeteria tables jackknifed against the walls, covering crayoned posters. A rented PA – sound on a stick, we came to call it – boxy speakers teetering on torqued tripods; a 12-channel board with 2 working channels. Which is convenient, because there are only two microphones, and one stand.

The one microphone lost its fragile hold on life during the Inferno set, and the other – well, it may as well have been a Radio Shack megaphone. By the third song, Smith kicked it aside, unplugged the guitar, and started “Atlantic Tunnel,” a song off one of his solo records, a satire on cultural imperialism. He stepped forward, the kids circled around, pulling in tight like a sailor’s knot, and sang along. How a hundred suburban punks knew the song, I know not, but there it was, as if beamed into the collective cortex.

I thought I could see a flash, when the mics began to fail, of the understandable annoyance of a 50-year-old man who doesn’t need to be playing basement shows on borrowed gear. Only a flash, though; and then if you squinted you could almost see the line tying him to the dozens of 20-year-olds I’d seen in the past three years playing their first shows in the same circumstances, with virtually no past and nothing but future. Would they still be as generous 30 years hence, if indeed they even still owned a guitar, or believed the lyrics they’d written then? Perhaps he’d inoculated himself at the very beginning: the Adverts’ first single, “One Chord Wonders,” the preemptively jaded fuck-off of a band to a potential audience, by one that had, then, only future: “I wonder what we’ll do when things go wrong, when we’re half-way through our favourite song – we look up and the audience has gone.” There’s a great power once you’ve visualized that and steeled yourself – “Will we feel a little bit obscure? Think, ‘We’re not needed here. We must be new wave – they’ll like us next year.’ The Wonders don’t care, we don’t give a damn.” Once you’ve decided you don’t care if you’re hated, that adulation and attention is a crashing and receding tide, you open yourself, over and over again, to be loved. – Franz Nicolay [Photo: Konstantin Sergeyev]

Elvis Costello and the Imposters
Universal Lending Pavilion, Denver, CO, 7/16/03

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I had a perfect view as Elvis Costello stormed off the stage, practically in mid-song. I also seem to recall him throwing down his guitar in either righteous frustration or rock star snit, but maybe that’s just my memory messing with me. The crowd, living it up on a hot July night in Denver just a few moments before, became disconcertingly quiet. Even the Imposters – drummer Pete Thomas, keyboardist Steve Nieve, and bassist Davey Faragher – seemed momentarily stunned, leaving the stage as the house lights came on.

It was less than an hour into the show, and I began to feel like a bigger schmuck than Bruce Thomas. Having driven nearly 14 hours from St. Louis – including a lifetime spent driving across the hell on earth known as Kansas – it looked like another brutal trek across that depressing monotonous terrain was imminent. After several tense minutes of boos mixed with cheers mixed with more boos, Costello and the band returned and played one of the most aggressive, loud and supremely pissed off concerts I’ve ever seen.

Up to this point the show had been solid enough, with Costello and the band going through tight versions of then-recent songs like “I Hope You’re Happy Now” and “Tear Off Your Own Head (It’s a Doll Revolution)” as well as songs for the elders like “Radio Radio” and “Clubland.” Yet after this brief delay the show devolved into a whole other beast. “Man Out Of Time” was played at triple speed, with an extended guitar workout during which Costello broke a guitar string but kept flailing away. “Less Than Zero” and “45” were given similar harsh treatments, with Costello and the band not even bothering to pause between songs. “Uncomplicated” featured that classic Costello snarl and was matched by the band’s insistent playing; I still remember how Thomas’ drums sounded like they were being played inside my skull. The Nick Lowe-penned closing song “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?” brought everything to a raucous close; the Imposters have played that song repeatedly throughout this decade, but never has it sounded as raw and unhinged as it did this night.

Though the concert, and indeed the atmosphere in which it occurred, were far removed from Costello’s late 1970s glory days, it remains one of the few shows I’d consider flawless. It was an exciting and unpredictable stomp through Costello’s back catalog, with most songs played with a sense of purpose and conviction. Nearly every song sounded like it was being played live exactly the way it was meant to be played, making other versions (from that particular tour at least) seem polite and overly refined.

People go to concerts for a variety of reasons – the need to drink excessively and dance a moronic jig or two, a night away from those bastard kids at home, or as some sort of twisted fanboy obsession. But mostly it’s because concertgoers want a night to remember; if transcendence is involved, so much the better. I’m still not sure why Costello stomped off the stage in Denver, and I don’t really care. Regardless, what followed afterward was the best Costello and the Imposters concert I’ve seen – and I’ve seen enough of their shows to warrant psychological analysis – as well as the most thrilling concert I attended this decade. – Eric Dennis [Photo: Leslie Kalohi]

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Fenway Park, Boston, MA, 9/07/03

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As a born-and-bred Jersey girl and diehard Yankee fan it pains me to say this, but out of the myriad Bruce Springsteen concerts I’ve seen over the years – both solo and with the E Street Band – the most energizing Boss show I’ve seen was the second of his two sold-out gigs at Boston’s historic Fenway Park in September 2003. Positioned in the outfield, Springsteen and his band delivered three-plus hours of non-stop rock and soulful ballads – the quintessential American musician in one of the most storied homes of the national pastime. Biting into a hotdog as Danny Federici started the show by playing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ on his organ, I felt a surge of patriotism; the only way I could have felt more American is if I was also suing someone or buying khakis at the Gap.

The main set list was heavy on cuts from his then-recent release The Rising, many feeling more poignant as the second anniversary of 9/11 approached. Mixed in with songs from that album (including the title track and the upbeat “Mary’s Place”) were older gems like “She’s the One” and “For You” and a few fan favorites like “Because the Night” and “Badlands.” A knock-out three song closing sequence included a frenzied “Jungleland,” heartbreaking “Into the Fire” and, my all-time favorite song, “Thunder Road,” which, of course, had the whole stadium singing along. The encores were loaded with high-energy hits, including “Rosalita” (another of my favorites), “Dancing in the Dark” and, of course (given the setting), “Glory Days.”

Aside from Asbury Park’s tiny Stone Pony, I really can’t think of a better venue to see the Boss. Fenway has the history and the tradition of grit, heartache, honesty, and redemption that fits perfectly with the rawness of the E Street Band’s songs. I’ve never felt much love in the home of the Red Sox (nor should I – I’m a pretty obnoxious Yankee fan), but on that night it didn’t matter where my loyalties lied. We were all just there to rock. – Tara Pierson Hoey [Photo: Luigi Bagatella]

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