Saturday, March 3, 2012

Recap of "Bruce Springsteen Week" on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

In honor of next week's release of Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball album, Jimmy Fallon devoted the whole week of shows this week to The Boss. Bookending the week with phenomenal performances by Bruce and The E Street Band on Monday and Friday nights, along with some special guests covering Springsteen songs in the middle, "Bruce Springsteen Week" turned into a celebration of not only the new album, but the man himself. For the trio of guest musical performances throughout the week, John Legend did a cool, laid back jazz version of "Dancing In The Dark" (backed flawlessly by The Roots might I add), Kenny Chesney kept his "I'm On Fire" pretty true to the original and Elvis Costello doubled up with killer takes of a reggae-flavored "Fire" and an awesomely reworked "Brilliant Disguise," with both songs supported amazingly by The Roots, the absolute slickest band in late night. Elvis even played a little bass for the lounge-trio run through of "Brilliant Disguise."

On the nights Bruce was in the house, he did more than just play a few songs. He did a cool couch interview with Jimmy, was a good sport as they went through some photographs of his various looks throughout the years and hilariously revisited the Bruce Springsteen and "Neil Young" duo for a fun romp through LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It." When Fallon and Springsteen performed as the duo before, doing Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair," Bruce was dressed up as his old floppy hat and sunglasses 70's self. For "Sexy and I Know It," Bruce decided to go with his denim and bandana, "Born In The U.S.A." era 80's vibe. Wiggle, wiggle indeed.

However, the performances are where Bruce really made things super special for the week. He absolutely rocked his way through some of the new songs from Wrecking Ball, including "We Take Care of Own" and "Wrecking Ball" on Monday and "Death To My Hometown" and "Jack of All Trades" on Friday. For Friday's set, Springsteen was joined by his buddy Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, The Nightwatchman) who really added a nice touch, both sonically and thematically, with his signature guitar playing and untouchable solos. Plus, I always love seeing Tom play his old "Arm The Homeless" guitar any chance I get. Wrecking Ball has been described as being Bruce's "angriest album" and watching him play so passionately and sing through clenched teeth has got me jacked for the new album. Much like "Born in the U.S.A." was incorrectly used as a patriotic anthem throughout the 80's, I have a feeling that "We Take Care of Our Own" might be ironically co-opted at some point by some political person/group who doesn't take a closer look at the lyrics. Springsteen's no stranger to that though, so we'll just have to wait and see.

In an already overwhelmingly awesome week, the crowning jewel was the raucous 7 minute closer on Friday night. Joined by 20+ musicians, including Jimmy Fallon on cowbell, Bruce led the band, and eventually the entire crowd, through a jaw-dropping, explosive version of "The E Street Shuffle" from his 1973 album, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. The performance showcased Bruce's innate showmanship at its finest and it reiterated the countless reasons why, even at 62, he can still led a band, an audience and perhaps even a fractured country into a time of joyous, celebratory rock and roll release. Also of special note, holding down saxophone duties for The E Street Band since the unfortunate passing of "The Big Man" Clarence Clemons last year, is his nephew, Jake Clemons. Thankfully, the spirit of The Big Man lives on.

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