2006-05-05, The Point, Dublin, Ireland

Seeger Sessions Tour
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Notes

Eyewitness accounts

Were you there? Write about it!
1977
Greg O'Leary wrote: Perhaps these songs resonate well in Ireland because it has a folk tradition not a million miles away from that of America, a fact evidenced by Bruce's inclusion of the Dublin broadside 'Mrs. McGrath' (complete with incorrect pronunciation) in the setlist.

Whatever the reason, the man and his band were rapturously received by the full house at The Point.

Personally, I have never heard a tighter, more acclompished band than The Seeger Sessions collective - although there were a number of changes from the album line-up. With the full horn section, upright base and piano playing they called to mind Beuna Vista Social Club at their best and most exuberant. It should be noted, however, that this music was never sterile. The nature of this music demands spontaneity, and that is what was on offer, from tuba interludes to lapsteel solos and banjo fills.

'Johnny 99' was a revelation, with a quasi-Bo Diddley beat underpinning angular guitar stabs. 'Open All Night' featured doo-wop backing singing and Little Richard-esque piano pounding. The closing 'When the Saints go Marching In' was unlike every version of that song I have ever heard before, while 'My City of Ruins' was graced by immaculate harmony singing.

Given that The Point venue is only 100 yards or so from Ringsend, I thought it would be worthwhile to include alternative, local lyrics to Mrs. McGrath that date back to the publication of the original version itself:

'Let me tell you a story
That will give you a shock,
It's about a murder in
The Ringsend Dock

Well the woman in question
Was Mrs. McGrath
And she strangled two sailors
With the straps of her bra...

With me too-ray-ay,' etc.

Frivolous, yes, considering the weighty nature of the actual song - foreign war and a mother's pain - but then, 'My Oklahoma Home' manages to be both hilarious and affecting simultaneously. Perhaps that is the highest praise for Springsteen's gig; namely that it manages to be an enjoyable experience with plenty of feel-good emotion, yet these songs are also significant for anyone, regarless of nationality.

Brendan Holohan wrote: A week's listening to the new album had me very definitly convinced of it's quality but if I had been told at the start of the night that Springsteen would have performed only four of his own songs I surely would have been disappointed. Four Springsteen numbers was all I got but, to my great surprise and joy, this was not in the least bit disappointing as Springsteen and his beautifully eccentric (and large!) band gobbled up the the stage with their evermore imaginitive re-workings of some folk classics. And not just what was on the album but some real surprises too, like the gorgeous version of 'When The Saints Go Marching In' (though maybe this wasn't the perfect choice for a closing number). Of his own four songs to get the makeover, a drastically different 'Johnny 99' went down a treat as did 'You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)'. 'Adam Raised A Cain' was a bit too unrecognisable for my taste while a heart-rending version of 'My City Of Ruins' was particularly memorable. Springsteen's stage presence was, as ever, awesome although this time he was playing out the new role of 1950's country-rock star a la Elvis Presley or Johnny Cash. Also appreciated was his apology for mis-pronouncing 'Mrs. McGrath'! By the time he'd sang it all was clearly forgiven though! All in all, a brilliant night of Springsteen and the type of performance that deserves to rate among his (and the Seeger Sessions Band's!) best ever.

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




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