Wednesday, October 26, 2011
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: THE BRIDGE SCHOOL CONCERTS
Right from the start stars rushed to the stage, and from the first year comes Bruce Springsteen, doing a solo version of his misunderstood anthem Born In The USA. That set the program for the entire concert series, which remains a largely-acoustic showcase. So not only do you have the big stars, you get them in different settings, especially the large rock groups. That's a calm but mighty version of Disposable Heroes by Metallica, and Pearl Jam always sounds great at a reduced volume, giving Vedder a chance to shine. The acoustic rules get relaxed over the years for the biggest names (McCartney, Elton with Leon Russell), but lots of others play along, including James Taylor with nice Fire And Rain done with cello. Others choose to bring out rarely-performed numbers, such as Tom Petty doing Shadow Of A Doubt.
The concert also has become a most welcome stop for those doing major event tours, such as reunions. The Who came by on one of theirs, as did Simon and Garfunkel. And of course, CSNY has done it more than once. It's too bad they didn't include a number from this past year's Buffalo Springfield set, but knowing Young he probably has a whole live album of that coming at some point. Young doesn't hog the spotlight on the discs, despite the fact he appears many times during the actual concerts with his guests. Here we only get him with CSNY on the CD version, with REM playing guitar on Country Feedback, and versions of Crime In The City (DVD) and Love And Only Love (CD). Good on ya, Neil, because there are just wonderful performances by Fleet Foxes, Emmylou Harris and Buddy Miller, Gillian Welch, David Bowie with a lovely Heroes, Patti Smith and many more.
The DVD is definitely the way to go if you are only buying one. The performances come alive with the video, and there's a bonus disc of documentaries, behind the scenes and about the Bridge School. For some reason I found the CD flat, and there aren't many of the performances that are only on the audio version that you'll regret not having. No Doubt anyone? Fans who want to shell out the extra $20 for the discs will get a fine Norah Jones version of Wilco's Jesus, Etc., and Jonathan Richman's I Was Dancing At The Lesbian Bar, but you'll also have to sit through Jack Johnson. Oh, that wasn't nice, this is for charity.