Last Friday my fellow Springsteen fanatic Callum Findlay and I took a mini-road trip to the Pitlochry Festival Theatre to get our Bruce fix. The Springsteen Sessions, one of Scotland’s premier tribute acts, were playing there as part of the theatres live music spring season which will also include Moishe’s Bagel, The Johnny Cash Roadshow and the Pasadena Roof Orchestra.
There was a bit of panic before leaving the house as I initially couldn’t locate my well worn Born in the USA t-shirt but I managed to lay my hands on it and we hit the road with the Ties that Bind CD blaring on the stereo.
Springsteen fans are used to marathon performances so I was pleased to see that the show was going to be two hours in duration and I was delighted when Badlands, a favourite of mine, started proceedings. It found singer Dougie “The Boss” Robertson in fine voice, featured some nice sax from Jamie Steele, and Caledonia’s answer to Steve Van Zandt, Miami Pete, aced the solo. The hits then came thick and fast: Two Hearts Are Better than One, Because the Night and No Surrender, all upbeat rockers and greatly appreciated by all the “Bruce Tramps” in the Pitlochry audience. All the while Dougie struts around the stage and does a great job of getting the crowd pumped up. The band seem to heavily favour tracks from 1984’s Born in the USA and by the time the title track kicks in most of the audience are on their feet which handily allows me to take some photographs without drawing too much attention to myself.
After we had taken on some much needed half time refreshments in the bar -foot stomping, fist pumping and dad dancing is thirsty work!- things got rocking and rolling again in the second half with some really choice cuts. The River is played as a special request. It is a nice change of tempo and features some cracking harmonica from Dougie.
As the show progresses something that becomes increasingly apparent is the sheer enthusiasm The Springsteen Sessions have for the material. You can tell that Miami Pete is digging the hell out of Born in the USA track No Surrender and Dougie really commits to Downbound Train with a really authentic vocal and Springsteenesque swagger. Bass player Rory McGregor clearly has a lot of love for the Latin grooves of Rosalita, shaking his stuff all over the stage and laying down some amazing bass runs. The guys don’t even shy away from the challenge of covering some of the more epic tracks from Springsteen’s wall of sound masterpiece Born to Run. The band really show their chops- and stamina- with a ten minute rendition of Jungleland, and pianist Derek Fairley and Keys player Pete Clark particularly impress with their skills.
The evening is about to draw to a close and there hasn’t, as of yet, been any sign of Dancing in the Dark. I was starting to get a bit anxious about the prospect of having to go home without hearing my favourite Springsteen song but then second last song there it is. Everyone is on their feet and we were singing our heads off.
The evening is topped off with a rendition of Born to Run with some cracking drumming from Derek Fairlie. There is time for a quick selfie with frontman Dougie then we hotfoot it back to Perth.