Monday, 26 October 2015

Incident on Exhibition St III, Coopers Inn, 23 Oct 2015

[NOTE: All photos by Aradhna Sharma]

Like the crack in a 19th-century water pipe that bursts through asphalt and launches a geyser high into an urban landscape, Michael Egan and Russ Barclay's third 'Incident on Exhibition Street' gave fans of Bruce Springsteen from around Australia a chance to release highly pressurised Boss ya-yas freely, without judgment or recrimination, in the comforts of an historic Melbourne pub.

Approximately 100 men and women crammed the upstairs bar of Coopers Inn in the CBD Friday night to celebrate with 'Brucebuds' (maybe it's a Jersey thing but I loathe that term) met in roll calls and GAs throughout the 2013 and 2014 tours of Australia and New Zealand. Roars of laughter, rampant embracing and rekindled friendships abounded on a night that raised money for Light of Day Australia and saw Dave Wright and Rob Barber (and occasionally Tim Cavanagh) of Dave Wright and the Midnight Electric play an explosive set of originals and Springsteen covers.

Forces outside my control and unrelated to the occasion had me out of sorts (i.e. whacked out of my head) but, as DWME superfan Lovely Rita said to me, the night was testament to the power of Bruce Springsteen's artistry to burrow through our cynicism and create community from shared passion. Neither of us knew everyone in the room but everyone felt like a friend.

The ties that bi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-nd, indeed.

Attendees were urged to bring signs they'd held up at Springsteen shows. Sukhothai proprietor Victor Wong brought this one, which Dave and Rob honoured with a brilliant acoustic version that demonstrated Mr Barber's vocal chops.

As he does onstage as bass player of Dave Wright and the Midnight Electric, Big Tim Cavanagh provided exuberant backing vocals and spirited clapping.

DWME superfans Piera (left) and Rita (right) sandwich Rita's daughter Rebecca. Michael would later congratulate Piera and Rita via social media for their stellar pogo-ing during 'Atlantic City'.

Dave performed a pair of songs by himself: 1) The best cover I've ever heard of personal favourite 'State Trooper' and 2) a courageous version of piano-driven 'The Promise' that henceforth is prime fodder for full-band treatment at future DWME shows.

Rob got into the spirit of the evening with a t-shirt he had specially made for the occasion. Its significance? It notes the date and locale of the first show to feature Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan and therefore the 'classic' E Street Band lineup: 19 September 1974 at the Main Point outside Philadelphia.

Men of the people.

It's tempting to think playing Springsteen covers to a roomful of Springsteen fans is like shooting Telecaster-shredding fish in a barrel but actually it's the opposite -- these people hear Springsteen's music in their dreams and hold his songs as gospel. Not-to-be-messed-with gospel. I thought Dave and Rob did justice to the spirit of the Springsteen songs they played and made Michael and Russ's third 'Incident on Exhibition Street' much more than a gathering of Bruce fans singing along to their favourite songs. Dave and Rob's interpretations of iconic Springsteen songs mixed with a few of their own gems made the night a memorable musical event.

Bring on Incident IV.

Dave Wright & Rob Barber w/Tim Cavanaugh Setlist
1. Thunder Road (Springsteen cover)
2. Radio Nowhere (Springsteen cover)
3. Streets of This Town
4. Blacktown
5. The River (Springsteen cover)
6. The Lucky Country

Dave Wright solo acoustic
7. State Trooper (Springsteen cover)
8. The Promise (Springsteen cover)

Dave Wright & Rob Barber w/Tim Cavanaugh Setlist
9. Girls In Their Summer Clothes (Springsteen cover)
10. Hang Me High
11. Atlantic City (Springsteen cover)
12. Happiness
13. I'm On Fire (Springsteen cover)

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