Boss performs in Red Bank

Asbury Park Press, 2005-04-05, by: Alison Waldman
Springsteen taping show for VH1
Inside The Two River Theatre Monday night, an audience of 350 bustled quietly with anticipation.

Perhaps it was the video cameras and crews that created the hush that fell over the crowd. But likely it was the anticipation of hearing Bruce Springsteen ? his music and his words ? in a filming for VH1 "Storytellers," to air on the cable channel April 23.

As Springsteen walked across the stage, the silence gave way to thunderous applause, and he told the audience, "It's kind of an iffy proposition.

"Talking about music is like talking about sex," he said. "Can you describe it? Are you supposed to?"

With that he launched into "Devils & Dust," the title track on his new album, which will be released April 26.

In keeping with the concept behind the Story-tellers' series ? which gives artists an opportunity to share their songs and the stories behind them ? Springsteen walked the audience through the lyrics of each song he performed, what they meant when he wrote them and what they mean now.

"Songs shift their meanings when you sing them," he told the audience. "They shift their meaning in time."

"Devils & Dust," he said, was written at the end of his last tour, when U.S. troops had just entered Iraq. The lyrics, he said, reflect a struggle between the personal and the political.

"What if we do destroy our ideals?" he asked the audience.

For roughly two hours, a mesmerized audience listened to Springsteen, who used his voice, a harmonica, a guitar and a piano to play songs ranging from "Thunder Road" to "The Rising" to "Nebraska" to "Jesus was an Only Son." After the music stopped, Springsteen also fielded questions from audience members on his craft.

Springsteen was joined on at least one song ? "Brilliant Disguise" ? by his wife and E Street band member Patti Scialfa.

On another song, Springsteen brought the audience back to a time when he was 23 years old and living in an apartment above a beauty salon in Asbury Park.

With a rhyming dictionary in one hand and a notebook in the other, he wrote "Blinded By The Light."

The more than 300 people lucky enough to secure a ticket to the intimate performance stood in a line outside the theater before the 8 p.m. taping. About 100 more hoping to land a ticket of their own stood along the sidewalk on Bridge Avenue.

At the end of the line of ticket holders, several people who had previously been on the waiting list joyously clutched tickets.

Among them was Karen Bellitto, 34, of Freehold Township, who said she arrived three hours earlier hoping to secure a ticket.

"Now I'm feeling really good," she said.

Peter Carey, 39, of the Locust section of Middletown, felt as if he had won the lottery when his number was called on the waiting list.

One of the thrills of the performance was seeing the area resident perform on his own turf, he said.

Bryan Plocker, 29, of South Orange, was anxious to hear Springsteen speak.

"This is probably the ultimate event," he said. "To actually hear the man talk about his songs ? I don't think anything can beat it."

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2005-04-04 Two River Theater, Red Bank, NJ