Talking about the rise of the East Street Band to worldwide success, Bruce Springsteen tells of the years of hard work and anonymity the band went through. He talks about the concerts played in halls to audiences of fifty people or less and how such experiences shape a band, about failure being part of the path to the status the band enjoy. He is wary of manufactured bands, those rising to fame through television programmes, those who can play no instruments and rely on image over substance. Perhaps someone as successful as Bruce Springsteen can be philosophical about the bumpy path to stardom, perhaps it is easier to own failure when you have enjoyed massive triumphs. How readily would less successful artists be in telling of gigs with only a few dozen people? In a culture where success is essential to success, where image is everything, are bands able admit to having had moments of failure, or would they be panned by the armchair music fans who inhabit the fantasy world of social media?
Playing at five o’clock on a Sunday evening is not a typical time for a gig, perhaps the intention is to draw in the punters at a time when there is not much else happening. Being advertised as starting at five o’clock doesn’t mean you get on stage at five o’clock. The venue had been hired for a child’s tenth birthday party and the music had been put back by an hour.
“When are the band playing?” I asked the barman.
” Six o’clock,” he replied.
There was no point in pointing out that the music had been advertised for five; it wasn’t the barman’s fault that the schedule has been changed.
Nakotami Plaza, a duo of acoustic guitarists, arrived and set up their equipment and tuned their guitars. At five minutes past six, they began their set and played for an hour and forty-five minutes, almost non-stop. The music was eclectic; covers, but covers from a very diverse variety of sources. It was a tight set, well-played and well-sung.
Perhaps they knew the story of Springsteen, in their closing songs they included a rendition of the East Street Band’s “Born to Run.” Bruce Springsteen performs it with a nine-piece band, there were two of them.
Pethaps The Boss would be pleased at such a reprise of the title track of the 1975 album that had lifted his band to a new level. Perhaps he could encourage a two-piece band in their own endeavours.