LIVE REVIEWS: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, The Hold Steady, Hootie & the Blowfish 

August 10, 15, and 16

click to enlarge The Boss (and Max) on stage at the Coliseum - JOSHUA CURRY

Bruce Springsteen &
The E Street Band

Sat. Aug. 16
North Charleston Coliseum

In 1978, there was Darkness on the Edge of Town, but last Saturday night under a full moon, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band roared back into Charleston after a three decade absence, and there was nothing but Magic. If your ears were still ringing on Sunday, that was the thunder of history being rewritten in the Holy City.

Springsteen and company played to over 12,000 ecstatic fans, kicking things off with a tour premiere, "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)," a cover of the '60s hit single by Greenwood, S.C.'s Swingin' Medallions. The three hour show drew deep into Springsteen's long catalog: starting with "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J." and going right up the list. While the audience's hand-written requests turned half the band's set list into an afterthought, it didn't seem to faze the Jersey boys. Few bands work harder for their audience. Fewer still can move an audience as Springsteen did with his emotionally-charged performance of "Streets Of Fire."

The band drove its sound like it was consciously delivering on an old promise to Charleston, and the energy blasting from the stage kept people on their feet, giving full-throated voice to an ageless alchemy: the transformative power of rock 'n' roll.

Back in '78, Paul Nelson captured that iconic image for Rolling Stone, writing about the then 28-year-old Springsteen: "holding up his guitar as if it were some communal instrument of magic, something which he alone does not own." That moment belonged to the audience then, and Springsteen invoked it for them once again. When the Boss reached his guitar toward the heavens on Saturday night, it was in spotlighted salute and defiance: proof that no matter how much darkness edges in, rock 'n' roll, at least, will not go gently into that good night. Not by a long shot. —Jon Santiago

click to enlarge holdsteady.jpg

The Hold Steady
Sun. Aug. 10
The Pour House

It was “the hottest show on tour,” according to lead singer and songwriter Craig Finn, but The Hold Steady had no trouble entertaining the sweaty masses that crowded into the Pour House last weekend. The crowd came ready to pump fists and sing along to the band’s positive bar-rock jams, and they weren’t about to let a little bit of heat stop them.

The band leapt out of the gates with “Constructive Summer,” the opening call-to-arms on their brand new album Stay Positive. Barely taking a breath, they continued with a perfectly sequenced run of tunes from Separation Sunday and Boys and Girls in America (“You can make him like you,” and “Stevie Nix” were particular highlights) before confidently anchoring the set with more songs from Stay Positive. As expected, “Yeah Sapphire” and “Stay Positive” rocked ecstatically in their live incarnations, while the moody, harpsichord-led “One for the cutters” and slow ballad “Lord, I’m Discouraged” kept the crowd’s rapt attention. —John Edward Royall


Hootie & The Blowfish
Fri. Aug. 15
Family Circle Stadium

Hootie & The Blowfish will be the first to say that there’s no place like home. The band set attendance records in 2007 and reprised their roles as South Carolina’s favorite sons this year by selling out the Family Circle Cup for the fourth consecutive year. Their mix of poppy lyrics, a college jam band persona, and the unmistakable Carolina sound of Darius Rucker’s voice doesn’t just rock; it rocks worlds.

The Blowfish’s mix of pop and rock burst out of the beer joints of Columbia’s Five Points in the ’90s and sent shock-waves through the entire country. A band like Hootie is a rare find these days, clean-cut yet edgy, thought-provoking yet subtle. The band actually sounds better live than on any album, and still leave fans chanting for more long after the stage lights have dimmed. Hootie gave everything while on stage — and gave even more through their charity work off the stage. I already can’t wait for next year’s show. —Myles Hutto



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