As of this writing, I've seen Bruce Springsteen in concert 63 times since 1980 and I expect (and hope) there'll still be a bevy of Boss shows still to come.
For approximately 55 of those gigs, standing to Bruce's left, usually receded into the background near Professor Roy Bittan's pianos, has stood one of the most reliable bass players the music industry has ever witnessed (with apologies to bassist extraordinaire John Entwistle).
Mr. Garry W. Tallent isn't know as the most flamboyant or scene-stealing member of Springsteen's E Street band, but he has always been a steadfast, reliable, and concrete pillar of quality bass in your face, thunder from down under musician whose role in the E Street Band goes back to Bruce's earliest music days more than four decades ago. In fact, Garry has been with Bruce longer than any other member of his heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, love-making, earth-quaking, Viagra-taking, justifying, death-defying, legendary E Street Band.
So recently, when we heard that this original E Streeter was bringing a solo tour to Somerville to the Rockwell. a small group of E Streeters - myself, Andrew, my brother Jimmy, and uber fan Ken Gordon - decided to check out the show to see what the Tennessee Terror would be like as the frontman flying solo, in town to promote his first album Break Time.
Tallent was born in Detroit, and grew up on the Jersey Shore (first playing the tuba, a skill that would make its triumphant return in Wild Billy's Circus Story), but Garry Tallent is closely identified with his southern style of rockabilly music. He first started playing with Bruce 46 years ago, in 1971.
He's done with work with Marshall Crenshaw, and is close friends with Southside Johnny, whose influence - and songs - were obvious in Tallent's Somerville performance.
As the blog's headline previews, it was the proverbial Tallent show. Garry has a great voice to carry the tunes, and easily stepped into the role of bandleader with his capable backup band flanking him on stage. He was high energy, engaged, and clearly, having an absolute blast playing music.
A side note - the Rockwell was an amazing venue to catch this kind of performance. Tallent has played in front of 70,000+ with the rest of the E Street Band, but his energy and connection to the audience in a crowd of just more than 100 was electric, palpable, and an unforgettable intimate connection to the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.
Afterwards, we were all able to meet Garry, where he posed for pictures, signed autographs, and chatted music history with anyone who wanted to spend the time with him.
Garry, if you're reading this blog (with its reach deep into E Street nation), thank you from a longtime fan, and now, a lifelong believer in the sheer Tallent that has played such a remarkable and indelible role in this E Streeter's rock and roll run through history.