One Eight Photography

September 17, 2009

I touched The Boss…then washed my hand

We saw Bruce Springsteen in concert at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville, SC last night and I have to say that it probably ranks in my top three concerts of all time.  Pushing 60-years-old, The Boss has more energy and stage presence than many bands I’ve seen in their 20s or 30s.  He knows how to get the crowd going.  Granted, many of the crowd reactions were nothing more than “cheap pops” by repeatedly yelling the name of the city he was playing in.

A couple highlights from the show:

  • When he walked on stage, my wife thought everyone was booing him.  They were yelling “Bruuuuuuuuuuuce!”.
  • Early on, he left the stage and walked through the crowd, stopping to sing two feet in front of us.
  • I had a chance to give him a pat on the chest while he stood there, and just enough time to snap the blurry photo below with my Blackberry.  He was sweaty.
  • He pulled two little girls on stage to sing the chorus of a song.  If I had to guess, they were probably 4-years-old and 2 or 3-years-old respectfully.  I have no idea what song they were singing, but the clearly have parents that play Bruce non-stop around the house.  At 28, I’d classify myself as a casual Bruce fan (probably upgraded now that I’ve seen him live), but these girls knew ALL the lyrics at 4-years-old.  That would be like me knowing all the Tony Bennett songs.  Impressive.
  • Bruce, at the request of a fan’s sign, covered ‘Satisfaction’ by the Stones.
  • Jay Weinberg, Max’s son, is one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen.  Ever.  He’s 19.  His friends work at restaurants, go to college, eat pizza in their rooms.  Jay plays drums.  On tour.  With Bruce Springsteen.  When I was 19, I was drawing overweight, naked people in figure drawing 101.
  • Bruce played ‘Glory Days’, ‘The Rising’ and closed with ‘Thunder Road’.  I don’t really have a good reason why, but ‘Glory Days’ is my favorite Bruce song.  Sure, those are songs you’d expect to hear, but artists with as many songs as he has sometimes leave some out.  He knows what pays the bills though.


I mentioned that this was probably in my top three shows of all time.  I can make that argument.  Now, the argument for this being the best show is much harder.

There are many criteria to account for when considering any ‘best of’ list.  This particular determination includes things such as:

  • Stage presence – this combines the actual artist and external features like lighting, video, pyrotechnics, etc.
  • Songs performed – # of hits played, # of favorites played, cover songs, etc
  • Length of set list
  • Audience – the people around you can make or break a show.  I’ve been to great performances, but left disheartened because a mosh pit broke out around me, sloppy drunk people wouldn’t shut up, the “makeout couple” was right in front of us (usually are).
  • Sentiment – there is a lot of emotion behind the artists we love.  You might hate a band, but they may be one of my favorites so I may appreciate the show more.

Some others that could arguably be in the top 3 to 5:

  • Eagles (Charlotte Coliseum, Farewell I tour, 2003) – great show, long show, all the hits
  • Will Hoge (Handlebar, Greenville, SC, 2009) – first big live show after Will’s wreck, probably the best show of the 20+ I’ve been to
  • Dave Matthews Band (Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Charlotte, NC, 2003) – 14th row tickets were free, first time I saw DMB, played all the old hits, one of my first dates with my wife
  • Soundgarden (Coral Sky Amphitheater, West Palm Beach, FL, Lollapalooza) – Chris Cornell has one of my favorite rock voices of all time (another list for another day)
  • Pearl Jam (Coral Sky Amphitheater, WPB, FL, Yield Tour) – stellar.  And they covered Otis Redding.
  • Finger Eleven (House of Blues, Orlando, FL, 1998) – the concert that started it all.  This was the first big show I ever photographed.

*Note – I am counting only individual bands for the sake of this list, rather than the entire show with openers, closers, etc.  If I incorporated the supporting bands, Lollapalooza would be right at the top as it included Rage Against the Machine, the Melvins, Ramones and more.

There are so many great small shows I’ve been to as well as over 100 bands to consider.  If I absolutely had to rank the above shows in order, it would probably be Will Hoge, Eagles, Bruce, Soundgarden, DMB, Pearl Jam, Finger Eleven.   That could change tomorrow, but I’m sticking with it for now.


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