Gary U S Bonds and Southside Johnny (Photo: Mark Robbins)

Clarence Clemons Tribute, 1/6/12

Clarence Clemons Tribute
Attucks Theatre
Chesapeake, VA
January 6, 2012

 

 

Clarence Clemons (January 11, 1942 – June 18, 2011), member of Bruce Springsteen’s backing E Street Band, was born 69 years ago in what was known as Norfolk County, now Chesapeake, Virginia.

In the months since his death, it was decided that a two night run of hometown tribute shows, would be an appropriate way to celebrate the local “Big Man” who was a prominent member of Springsteen’s band from 1972 until his death.

After sitting through Friday night’s tribute, the idea proved to be one that almost worked, musically speaking.

The show opened with Nick Clemons, The Big Man’s son, who in spite of being the physical spitting image of his father, lacked the personality and talent of his old man.

Backed by his own band of seasoned veterans including Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez, Springsteen’s Asbury Park era drummer, Clemons sounded unsure of himself and called on three women from backstage to come out front and dance, faking a party atmosphere.

After gyrating around the stage for awhile the three women mercifully departed and were soon forgotten.

Next up was Clarence Clemons nephew, Jake Clemons, who provided a somber and somewhat trite performance on acoustic guitar and saxophone. There’s only so many times after a song you can look up to the heavens, kiss your fingers and nod your head, but  Jake seemed to come alive in the latter portion of his set,  pllaying saxophone with all of the evening’s headliners; giving a heartfelt performance of “Jungleland.”

The evening finally kicked in and came to life when another native son, Gary U. S. Bonds came out to emcee the rest of the evening. Playing to the hometown crowd, Bonds enthusiasm flowed over to the band. With Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez on drums, Gary Tallent on bass (another E Street veteran) Bobby Bandiera‘s guitar (BonJovi), John Cafferty of the Beaver Brown Band and Southside Johnny, another Springsteen collaborator and the man the Jon Bon Jovi credits with being the reason he chose to become a singer.

With so many of the  “Jersey sound” creators taking the stage, a real party atmosphere got the crowd on its feet and what was lacking in a cohesive working band was more than made up for with just plain fun.

Of course, the big rumor of the night was that The Boss was going to show up. He didn’t, but nobody went home disappointed. And even though the evening was filled with some instruments that needed tuning, forgotten lyrics, and hokey sentiments, everyone appeared to have a splendid evening celebrating one of their own.

 

Click the thumbnail(s) to view photos from the show by Mark Robbins

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