Jul 4, 2008

Bruce Springsteen Tribute Night @ The Vanguard

Tribute nights can be problematical. I mean, the artist covered has to be worthy of it in the first place, and if he or she is, then you need artists of sufficient musical ability to do the material justice. Whether they stay strict to the original version or offer up a fresh interpretation. So when the tribute is to Bruce Springsteen, you certainly have plenty of great material to choose from, but also music that requires a certain amount of skill to cover successfully. Thursday night at the Vanguard was nearly three hours worth of music in honour of 'The Boss' and it proved to be a very enjoyable night, with some false steps, but also some inspired renditions of Springsteen magic.

First up was Johnny Vance, with basically just an acoustic setup. He tackled a few big ones from the Springsteen repertoire, but pulled it off. His version of "Rosalita" was great and I am glad he sung "Growin' Up", as this is a particular favourite of mine. The Sons of Katie Elder were supposed to perform, but it ended up only being lead singer Greg on acoustic guitar. His gravelly voice suited the material and the crowd really enjoyed the effervescent "Hungry Heart". Country act The Jones were next and their five songs were a mixed bag. "Badlands" done in Johnny Cash style style was interesting, but "Johnny 99" as country swing was a poor choice. The Maladies were the biggest surprise of the night. Despite their mix being far too loud, their experimental rock with a big guitar sound was very impressive. Their "Blinded By The Light" was unrecognisable, but very haunting. Then when their lead singer tackled "Highway Patrolman" solo, you could hear a pin drop in the venue. Very impressive indeed. The Green Mohair Suits brought an Australian version of Bluegrass to the night. They were fun, but a little kitschy to be totally successful. Although their version of "Born in the U.S.A." surprisingly worked.

Without doubt though, the highlight of the night was the closing act Dead Letter Chorus. This band is seriously talented and proved it yet again. Lead singer Cam opened with an acoustic version of "Devils & Dust", which proved to be starkly beautiful. Then it was great to hear a female voice covering Springsteen. Gabrielle took lead duties on "Human Touch", which was thoroughly enjoyable. Yet it was bettered soon after by a stellar version of "Dancing In The Dark", probably the highlight of the night. Closing with "Streets Of Philadelphia' proved a winning move, bringing to a close an enjoyable and satisfying night. Good food, great company, with talented Sydney musicians tackling the greatness of Springsteen. A good combination.

Set List (with performers)
Johnny Vance
Growin' Up
No Surrender
Thunder Road

Greg from The Sons Of Katie Elder
Atlantic City
I'm On Fire
Hungry Heart

The Jones (with Johnny Cass)
Long Walk Home
Girls In Their Summer Clothes
Johnny 99
Born To Run

The Maladies
Further On (Up The Road)
Blinded By The Light
Highway Patrolman
Streets Of Fire
State Trooper

The Green Mohair Suits
I'm On Fire
My Hometown
Wild Billy's Circus Story
Atlantic City
Born in the U.S.A.

Dead Letter Chorus
Devils & Dust
Human Touch
The Ghost Of Tom Joad
Dancing In The Dark
Streets Of Philadelphia


  • At July 07, 2008 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    A good review Wayne - though the first half hour, my mates and I thought it twas to be a shocker - when the 2nd or 3rd act advised the crowd he'd only learnt "I'm On Fire" the night before & proceeded to give an average rendition, well who can blame us for having doubts!?

    As the night progressed though it became a night to remember - The Maladies impressed and in particular Highway Patrolman - (Which I have put on Youtube - search MALADIES HIGHWAY PATROLMAN).

    We had great sing-a-long's to Bruce songs by Dead Letter Chorus and The Green Mohair Suits - it ended up being a fantastic night ...

    Very Best,

    Simon & mates


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