2002-08-14, Gund Arena, Cleveland, OH

The Rising Tour
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Approximately 2 hours, 25 minutes.

Eyewitness accounts

Were you there? Write about it!
Magnus wrote: I was excited about travelling away from the East Coast for once, to catch a Bruce show, and Cleveland certainly has more Bruce history than most places. I and my tour buddy Andy had planned to visit the Rock "n" Roll Hall of Fame, but the $17 ticket was far more than we anticipated paying, so we passed. Next time perhaps. I was surpised by how few people in town had heard about the concert. Unlike in Washington, where the local classic rock station was playing Bruce all day, and many people knew about the show, the tour really didn't seem to have descended upon the city at all. The show had apparently sold out a few days previously, but there were fans and scalpers alike trying to sell tickets outside the venue for well under face. Many ended up eating tickets, I heard a rumour which actually sounded feasible about someone selling 2 upper level tickets for 2 dollars apiece.

Before the show we hung out with a bunch of good Greasy Lakers, One of whom (Jacey?) had reserved a separate room at the local sports bar. This proved to be a great idea, because the bar filled up soon, but we had plenty of space to mingle and chat. If anyone is planning pre show parties at bars close to arenas at future shows, it may be a good idea to reserve a room, to avoid the kind of cramped conditions that manyof us experienced at Mustang Harry's in NYC or the Childe Harold in Washington. Very nice meeting all of you guys at Flannery's BTW, I won't mention everyone by name, since I might forget someone, but it really was great to meet so many GLers in such a good setting. The banner, BTW looks truly amazing.

Onto the concert; I was high up on Patti's side of the stage, where the sound was not perfect, but much better than it had been in DC (where I had compareable seats). The band came out around 8.10, and went straight into The Rising as expected. From the beginning though, it was clear that the Cleveland crowd was quite tame and suffered by comparison to the East Coast crowds at the first few shows. My section seemed to have between a quarter and two thirds of the people standing at any given time, except during the slow songs, when everyone understandably enough sat down. Certainly not everyone stood up during Badlands; and Bobby Jean saw half a dozen people in front of me get up to get beers. There were 4 very rude fans sitting right in front of me who insisted on talking loudly through much of the show despite several people asking them politely (at first) to quieten down. Finally in the midle of MCOR, the fan sitting next to me told them in no uncertain terms to shut the fuck up, and they seemed shocked enough to comply for the most part for what remained of the show. It's definetely a good thing that Bruce asks for quite before his first slow songs, but this clearly isn't enough. Perhaps a modified STFU speech would be in order? Ideally the sale of beer should also be halted once the show starts. This seemed to work very well in Pittsburgh on the last tour. I heard from many other fans who thought the crowd was fine, but from where I was looking, the upper levels especially, were less into the show than at the three first concerts of the tour.

The songs continue to grow and develop, and the improvement curve so early in the tour is great to watch from show to show. I may be wrong, but I think I remember that Suzie did not play a solo at the end of Worlds Apart at this show. Certainly, Bruce's churning ever-lengthening guitar solo dominated the terrific musical finish to that song. Nils's solo at the End of The Fuze also continues to change a little each night, and was a highlight of the song. I thought the performance in general was tight, but not extraordinarily spirited. I sensed that Bruce was playing hard, but ultimately wasn't inspired to one of his truly superhuman performances. A review of the show the next day in a local paper gave a generally favourable, but non-raving account of the show.

The setlist remained exactly the same for the third night in a row. Unlike the NYC and DC shows the setlist didn't work so well with a less attentive audience, many of whom were scampering around for beer during Into the Fire. With a less fired up audience, the limitations of the setlist became more apparent. By the time he had finished Mary's Place, the crowd was just about in his grasp, and if there had been enough flexibility in the set to throw in a more familiar song next, the crowd might well have been won over for good. But the last three songs of the main set, while individually very powerful, bring the crowd down after the euphoria of Mary's place, without bringing it up again. I can understand that after playing Mary's Place, the band isn't able to maintain that high tempo intensity. But a more familar, lighter song would work much better instead of the intense still-obscure Countin' on a Miracle. Bobby Jean perhaps?

The highlight of the show for me was undoubtedly the encores, which finally saw the not-quite-full-Gund Arena up and rocking at full tilt. Thunder Road is still sounding fine, the band seems to be having even more fun than the audience during the rambunctious Glory Days and BTR never fails to please everyone. The second encore is more serious without being too depressing; rousing without allowing itself to be mistaken as overtly patriotic. Certainly, playing the full band BUSA again is treading a fine line, but so far the song seems to work very well indeed. The spooky muted green lighting during BUSA is very effective in helping to convey the dark nature of the song. LoHaD is building muscle, sounding as good as it did on the last tour.

After seeing the first 3 east coast shows, I found Cleveland to be a little disappointing, because of the comparatively tame audience. If this turns out to be the typical 2002 tour crowd, the set is in all the more need for some drastic overhaul in order for it to be all it can be. When I go to a rock show, I expect the audience to give all the attention and enthusiasm it has to enjoying an participating in the performance. But I also expect the performer (especially one as professional as Bruce) to be able to gauge the audience, and know just when to throw in an unplanned song or two, to take advantage of the of the crowd's excitement at essential points in the show. Right now, the setlist seems to me imperfectly paced and too rigid


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(1988 or 1988-07 or 1988-07-25)

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