Bruce Springsteen at the Fox Theater, Atlanta - 1/28/96

It is a tribute to the ability of an artist, particularly a pop/rock music performer, when the audience will sit and listen respectfully to material that is not considered the performer's"mainstream" material. In an evening of mutual communication, Bruce Springsteen stood alone with his guitars and harmonicas and firmly but gently guided the sold out Fox Theater through a two and one half hour set.

Relying on songs from his latest effort "The Ghost of Tom Joad", as well as expressing personal experiences between songs, Springsteen took the show through a myriad of of social and personal voyages designed to show the struggle and the humanity of individuals as those changes in their lives occur. Springsteen made several references to the effect that Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" had upon him, as well as the John Huston film of the same name. Anchoring his work around such powerful and haunting images, Springsteen asked the audience through his work to examine the "real issues" within our own lives as affected by the issues that dominate our lives and the lives of others. Springsteen's intimacy with the crowd showed that he can make the difficult transformation from stadium rocker to a Woodie Guthrie folk/protest style of communication that keeps the rock and roll edge just beneath the surface without causing conflict and lends credibility to the material.

As this evening was Superbowl Sunday, Springsteen had fun at the expense of the NFL by greeting the audience with "Welcome sports fans." "The revolution begins here. We'll try to do something really subversive here tonight." Reminding this reviewer that indeed some music and peaceful assembly is viewed as a threat by those with "good old American paranoia" as one of Sprinsteen's songs was introduced. Springsteen's ability to hold an audience was also reflected in his advice to the crowd on how to handle the members who insist on talking during the performance and shouting out song requests, "tell them gently and collectively to shut the fuck up", which made for some interesting volleys among audience members during the evening. Many in the audience of predominately "35 to 40 somethings", including this reviewer, wanted to hear his acoustic interpretations of some of his mainstream work and received "Adam Raised a Cain" and "Born in the U.S.A. as an appetizer, however, the main course was a presentation of material not written or performed with a stadium/arena in mind but rather an intimate, cerebral setting requiring more of the audience than just sitting, applauding, singing along, and howling for another encore.

Steven Buck

Lawrenceville, Ga

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