Hard News by Russell Brown

44

Friday Music: Both sides of the Boss

Bruce Springsteen: he came, he saw, he conquered. A man who, were he from this country, would be a few months short of eligibility for superannuation, delivered three-and-a-half-hour sets on successive nights, barely pausing for a breath in each. Nearly 80,000 people lapped it up.

So should I feel bad that by the time I left his concert on Sunday night I was just a tiny bit over it?

I should point out that I didn't buy a ticket. Along with a couple of friends I was lucky enough to be offered last-minute comps in Mt Smart east stand and I would otherwise have been at home. So clearly, I'm not a mad fan.

As he'd done the night before, Springsteen kicked off with a solo blues interpretation of 'Royals'. It was a much, much better performance than the internationally-celebrated one from the night before, when it seemed he hadn't quite worked out what he was doing with the song. This seems to be the best video of the second-night performance (I do wish people would use the YouTube stablisation tool):

He followed strongly with 'We Take Care of Our Own', one of his best songs in recent years and one firmly in his social-protest tradition. Then 'Two Hearts', 'Hungry Hearts' (originally written for the Ramones, rock trivia fans!) before building to the bracket that was the peak of the show for me: 'High Hopes' (with its bongos and complex rhythms, it stood out from the rest of the set in actually sounding contemporary), The Saints' 'Just Like Fire Would', 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' and then -- in a tour premiere! -- an incredible 15-minute interpretation of 'My City of Ruins', dedicated to "my friends in Christchurch."

I'm truly puzzled that no one else seems to have singled out that last one. Bruce and his band played it as an epic soul pastiche. It wasn't subtle -- no heartstring was left untugged by the end -- but it was wonderful, and far and away the highlight for me. Fortunately, one fan got the video:

From there, not yet halfway through the setlist, we were into the track-for-track performance of the Born to Run album, where is where he started to lose me. One rock song after another, belted out in what seemed like the same tempo. I thought 'Jungleland' was never going to end. 'The Ghost of Tom Joad' was good, but by the time we got into the wedding party songs -- 'Glory Days', 'Dancing in the Dark' -- I was feeling oddly disengaged from it all and was quite happy to sneak out early and beat the crowds, as were my companions.

But that was just us. What else could he have done to hold my affection? 'Because the Night' was clearly to much to hope for, but it would have been nice to hear something from 2007's Magic album, in particular this gem:

So that was how I got a bit over Bruce. Feel free to tell me I'm nuts.

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After I came to Auckland to be deputy editor of Rip It Up in 1983, one of the things I soon learned about my boss, Murray Cammick, was that as a kid in 1960s Glendowie, his musical passions had formed around two axes. One was American soul music (and Otis Redding in particular) -- and the other was New Zealand's pirate radio station, Radio Hauraki.

In a nice bit of timing with the Three Mile Limit film, Murray has written a Hauraki article for Audioculture and stuffed it with long-lost photos and memorabilia from his own archive. It's really worth your time.

There are kids like Murray out there right now. They have very different means of getting their music and they dig different things, but it's their passion as fans that feeds the popular culture of the age. And didn't he have a nice smile?

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One of the surprises in Lorde's victoria Silo Park concert in January was her cover of 'Easy' by the American electronic artist Son Lux. There was talk of a collaboration -- and this week, it arrived, as part of Son Lux's new Alternate Worlds EP:

Holy shit, she brings a LOT to this. Her deep, rough, haunting vocal takes the song to a new level. I think the question of whether Lorde can work with producers other than Joel Little is well and truly answered. Bring it on.

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Speaking of lovely smiles, as we were above: Daniel McBride, aka Sheep, Dog & Wolf. He's the subject of the first of a new season of Hugh Sundae's Sundae Sessions video project for the Herald. The fact that his session is prefaced with an intelligent interview makes it pretty much a perfect introduction to this young man and his intriguing music. 

The second @Peace album now officially has a name -- The Plutonian Noise Symphony -- and a launch party, as announced in this amusing video.

The Death Of @PEACE - Part 1 from @ Peace on Vimeo.

The album itself is interesting. I've listened to it quite a few times and, unlike the first @Peace record, it doesn't really have a hit. It's made to be listened to as one lurching, surprising, trippy whole. Being high is optional but it won't hurt.

One thing that happened this summer was the BaseFM Boat Parties. I was invited to one of them but wasn't able to get there. Shame. This video makes them look a lot of fun:

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Of interest on TheAudience: West Coast Fruit Co of Auckland, with this spooky little electronic tune:

There's a free download if you click the "fan" button.

The Audience chart is currently topped by this atmospheric track by the hip hop   artist Diaz Grimm.

He has a cool website.

And in a completely different vein, it's nice to see the singer-songwriter Greg Fleming is back and in good voice:

That's from his new album, Forget the Past, out March 28.

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From the department of silly remixes that actually work -- 'Sound of Silence' done acid house style:

A version of a version of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' from Thomas Jack:

And utter madness from the Dastardly Bounder, with a remix of a vintage Dutch-language version of Donovan's 'Hey Gyp'. 

All those are free downloads. Enjoy!

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The Hard News Music Post is sponsored by:

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