A night with Neil and the gang

So, here we are again with another Bridge School “not-quite-review”(I correctly predicted last year that I’d be back for more) and let me first get this out of the way: HOW HAVE I GONE THIS LONG WITHOUT BEING A TOM WAITS FAN? I’m so disappointed in myself! He was there in my dad’s record collection all along, but somehow I never ventured down that path. That said, I think seeing him perform live was the best possible way to get introduced to this guy…and watching from backstage wasn’t too shabby either!


A pretty sweet view.

[Backstory:] I was totally going to buy lawn tickets to the Bridge School concert this year, but before I could, it turns out that my work was giving out free tickets (in prime seating, no less) to employees. Win #1.

The lineup for the Sunday concert included CSNY(!), Fun., Elvis Costello & Diana Krall, Tom Waits, and Heart. Win #2.

Aaaaand, without going into too much detail, Alex and I happened upon two VIP passes thanks to an awesome friend, and got to spend all of Tom Waits’ set backstage brushing shoulders with the artists. MAJOR WIN #3.

So, with that out of the way, here’s a quick rundown of this year’s concert, from what I saw:

So freakin’ good! I was unfamiliar with most of the songs they played, but WOW, Ann Wilson’s voice sounds better than ever. “Crazy On You” was the crowd (and my) favorite. 10/10 would see again.

I applaud fun. for doing a super exposed, bare-bones set (seriously, setup took like <5 minutes). And I guess I can forgive Nate Ruess for calling Mountain View the East Bay, haha. Their set was super short and they kept it to the hits, but ALSO, they played Queen’s “Somebody to Love” which was amaaazing.

Fun.! Throughout their set I kept getting distracted by what was unmistakably David Crosby watching from the side of the stage (can you spot him?). 


Diana Krall / Elvis Costello.
We missed part of Diana Krall’s set, but came back in time for a couple duets with Elvis. Wasn’t aware that they were married, how cute! Elvis Costello got the crowd really hyped up – it was a great set and made me realize I need to start listening to more of his stuff! 

My Morning Jacket.
Had never heard much of these guys before last night, but really enjoyed their music. Neil joined them for “Harvest Moon,” and at the end, they did a wonderful tribute to Lou Reed (R.I.P.!) by bringing everyone out for “Oh! Sweet Nuthin.”

Tom Waits.
Oh my goodness, what can I say. Tom absolutely stole the show. Everything was so entertaining: the band, the music, the rambling anecdotes (there was a story about borrowing a bunch of money from Neil Young in the 70s to start a restaurant, which was planned to serve gluten-free eel, donuts, and fish scales…what.). What a character! I couldn’t name a single Tom Waits song before this show, but I became an instant fan of the vaudeville style rockers (e.g. “Singapore”) and unexpectedly genuine ballads (see “Tom Traubert’s Blues,” complete with pre-song banter). And I got to watch it all from backstage, which was a trip. Without a doubt the best part of the night.

Queens of the Stone Age.
Sorry guys, I was still reeling from the previous performance to hone in on your set. Kudos on the vibes-work, though!

and lastly…

First of all, I’m SO GLAD I got to see this. I saw Crosby Stills & Nash at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concert in New York, which was great, but there’s something about that 4th voice that just makes it so much better. Legendary. Their set was pretty short, and I’m still a n00b so I didn’t recognize them all. I thought the a cappella version of “What Are Their Names” was cool. And loved the added harmonies on “Long May You Run,” as well as the “Within You Without You” homage in “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”! But maybe my favorite part of the whole thing was the image of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash standing at their stationary microphones with their black suits, and Neil Young stomping around in the background with his hoodie and ripped jeans, looking like a bona fide hobo. Love it.

So, I’ve decided. As long as I’m living in the bay area, I’ll be going to this concert every year. I feel like a jerk for waiting until the end of the post to mention it, but the Bridge School is really what this concert is all about. By attending, you’re supporting the school, its teachers, and most importantly, its students. That’s reason enough to go, but of course, experiencing an awesome night of music doesn’t hurt either! I’m grateful to Neil Young for putting together the show, and also grateful to Salesforce for supporting the organization!
Now…..off to listen to more Tom Waits.


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