Monday, August 27, 2012

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band | Toronto 2012

It's taken me a few days to process - but Friday night's Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band concert in Toronto was one of the most amazing things I've ever experienced.  I had a smile on my face for almost 4 hours straight.

When I was in grade 2 my teacher, Mrs. McGowan, dressed up as 'The Boss' for Halloween.  She was Bruce on the cover of the 'Born In The USA' album cover and it was amazing.  My brother had that cassette and it never left the deck of his ghetto blaster that whole year.

I listened to the full 'Born In The USA' album a few times on a flight to Denver this past January.  It was perfect and instantly took me back to those days in 1984.  I could remember the wood stained wallpaper in my brother's bedroom along with all 26 NHL hockey pennants he had on the walls.  Music can truly act as a time machine in a way that nothing else can.

Friday's show at The Rogers Centre was beautiful. Bruce Springsteen is now 62 years of age and not showing any sign he's giving up.  He walked on that stage at 8pm and gave 150% for almost 4 hours straight.  His set list included 29 songs ranging from all decades and styles throughout his career.  Oh yeah and The E Street Band might very well be the finest band on the planet.

I was almost in tears (joy & sorrow) when he gave this speech at the 50 second mark of 'My City of Ruins'.  Keep in mind that this was simply the 7th song into the evening.  These guys gave more in the opening songs than most bands do in a 2nd encore.  This was a truly religious experience if I've ever seen one.

Here are a few links that will give you a better sense of how this evening went down...

'Waiting On A Sunny Day'  (little girl comes and sings the chorus with him)
'Working On A Highway' (Opener)
'Thunder Road / Born to Run / Rosalita / Dancing In The Dark"

Here's a couple classic Bruce Springsteen tracks I'll never grow tired of...
'Because The Night' (1978)
'Hungry Heart' (1984)
'My Hometown' (1984)
'Tunnel of Love' (1987)
'Murder Incorporated' (1995)
'Radio Nowhere' (2007)
'Death To My Hometown' (2012)

The catalogue is deep and it's time for me to dive in a little deeper.

If you have the chance to see this man live the rest assured he won't disappoint.  Bruce Springsteen truly is the hardest working man in showbiz.  Period.

Thank you for reading/listening.

Gregg Stewart

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Doctor

As the world continues to hold its breath for Dr. Dre's 'Detox' album - it's nice to hear the Doctor's voice again.  He may have stepped out of the spotlight since his last album, 13 years ago, but he's managed to keep busy with some of pop cultures biggest trends.  From Beats by Dre headphones to a few singles poised to be on the fabled 'Detox' he's still the master of creating beats in hip hop.  He's a relevant legend as he approaches 50 years of age.

From his early days in The World Class Wreckin' Cru to N.W.A to a solo career and producer - it's safe to say he's shaped Hip Hop over the past 30 years.

I write about Dre today as I am currently enthralled with his latest signing to Aftermath Records.  The kid's from Compton, his name is Kendrick Lamar and he is the real deal.  His writing, flow and style are what sets him apart from the rest at this time. Check out this Dre produced track.

During my first week working at Universal Music I was asked to help set-up a press conference for 'The Up In Smoke Tour'.  The tour was comprised of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Warren G. and newcomer at the time Eminem.  It was by far the greatest concert I've ever been to in my life.  If you have 2 hours to spare I recommend you watch it here.

I worked in the press department at that time and so the idea of a press conference was to get the artists in one room and do all interviews at the once.  It was also to alleviate some of the pressure from Eminem as the press were up in arms about his lyrical content on 'The Marshall Mathers LP' that day. 

When the press conference started it was only Dr. Dre and Eminem there to answer questions.  The others were held up at the border all morning.  As suspected once we opened questions to the floor it was all about Eminem and the controversy surrounding him.  Then in a turn of events George Stroumboulopoulos, of MuchMusic at the time, put his hand up and point blank asking Dre about his current relationship with Suge Knight.  That was a very touchy subject at that time and Eminem told George to get the fuck out of there.  I think it was Master T. that ended up doing the interviews thereafter.  It was fucking amazing.  That an introduction to the music business and a big reason as to why I decided to keep going.

The single best part of that day was watching soundcheck though.  Seeing Dr. Dre walk around the Molson Amphitheatre with his platinum mic checking sound from every corner of the stadium was surreal.  His attention to detail showed me exactly why he was the best in the business.  Well that and seeing Warren G. with a fishing rod in Lake Ontario while smoking a Philly.  I digress.

Dr. Dre's been a part of some of the biggest tracks in Hip Hop history and here are but a mere 10 of them...

Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg - 'Nuthin' But A G Thang'

Kendrick Lamar featuring Dr. Dre - 'The Recipe'

Black Street featuring Dr. Dre - 'No Diggity'

Dr. Dre featuring Akon and Snoop Dogg - 'Kush'

Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg - 'The Next Episode'

50 Cent - 'In Da Club'

N.W.A. - 'Straight Outta Compton'

The Game featuring 5O Cent - 'Hate It Or Love It'

Easy E - 'Boyz N The Hood'

Eminem featuring Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg - 'Bitch Please II'

I'm am excited to see what the next chapter of Dr. Dre's life brings us.  Bring on 'The Detox' please - it's time.

Thanks for reading/listening.