Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul will be appearing at the Newport Music Hall Wednesday, November 14th. Doors are at 7 pm, details available here: Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul.
I didn’t see Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band for the first time until April 5th, 1976, at the Ohio Theater here in Columbus, Ohio on the Born To Run tour. Consequently, I never saw the E Street Band when it did not contain Little Steven Van Zandt – or “Miami Steve” as he was nicknamed in those days – on lead guitar & harmony vocals. Despite everything I read back then in the rock press of the 1970’s before that 1976 tour – about the legendary prowess of Bruce Springsteen as a live performance force of nature from the very beginnings of his career – I cannot believe the E Street Band was EVER as good WITHOUT Steven Van Zandt as they were WITH him.
People tend to forget that Bruce didn’t play much lead guitar until the Darkness On The Edge Of Town tour in 1978. That first night at the Ohio Theater, and the next show I saw, in 1977 at Veteran’s Memorial in Columbus (the so-called “Lawsuit Tour” when the E Street Band were scrabbling out a living on the road after being sued by original manager Mike Appel), Little Steven carried the lion’s share of the lead guitar duties in the soul-smashing E Street Band.
And make no mistake, though Big Man Clarence Clemons on saxophone was undoubtedly Springsteen’s main onstage foil in those mid-period E Street Band days – and I LOVED Clemons’ stage presence & superlative playing – it was Van Zandt who was the Keith Richards to Bruce’s Jagger, that sure and steady hand on the rock & roll rudder that kept everything locked TIGHT and rocking.
So did it break my heart a little when Van Zandt left the E Street Band in the 1980’s to go solo? Yeah, I admit it did. And do I believe for one minute that any of Steven’s “replacements” in the E Street Band – Nils Lofgren, Tom Morello – could (or should) follow five paces behind Little Steven and carry his guitar case, great as they are in their own way? No, I really don’t.
And don’t even get me started on Steven’s sartorial style or the verbal brilliance he deploys on his Underground Garage Sirius radio channel.
Anyway, I could go on gushing like a 15-year old girl all night, but here’s the point: If you can’t get yourself out to New York City and the Great White Way to witness Bruce Springsteen On Broadway, at least get yourself over to The Newport on Wednesday night and see some rock & roll the way it should be done. It can’t hurt ya. – Ricki C. / November 13th, 2018