David Remnick (The New Yorker) with video (08:40):
Last night, I bolted work to catch the first show of two by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band in Philadelphia. I first saw Springsteen when he was the opening act for Chicago, in 1973 (which means I saw him even before Jon Landau branded him, indelibly, as “rock and roll’s future”). The Philly show was tight, exuberant, soulful, furious, joyful, even goofy, with the revival of the old “Seaside Bar Song” and Springsteen’s trip into the stands to give a kiss to the mother of the drummer, Max Weinberg.
But the most memorable moment, the one that demands immediate distribution, came after the “Apollo Medley”—a medley of Smokey Robinson a cappella and a rafter-raising version of “634-5789.” Suddenly, the mood went sombre and Springsteen said, “This is for Trayvon.” I first heard “American Skin (41 Shots),” at Madison Square Garden a dozen years ago, but now the lament, as the circumstances changed from the shooting of Amadou Diallo, in New York, to Trayvon Martin, in Florida, was less subdued, far tougher, as if to underline the outrage. Like “Born in the U.S.A.” and the new “We Take Care of Our Own,” “American Skin” belies its easy reading; it attempts to get at the complexity as well as the grief and fury of its subject. But better to just let you experience the song. Here it is, performed in Tampa, last week (see above).