Bruce Springsteen (Nov. 26) & The Punch Brothers (Nov. 24)

November 6, 2012

The argument can be made that American music is stuck between two poles: bombast and regret. The former (from John Philip Sousa to Jay-Z) has its place—the latter, too. R.E.M., say. Or Emmylou Harris. But the interesting stuff, the real treasure, mixes triumphalism with anguish. This has long been Bruce Springsteen territory (think of 1978’s “Adam Raised a Cain”: “You’re born into this life paying for the sins of somebody else’s past”). Even now, with the Boss, 62, touring the fine recession-times stomper Wrecking Ball, he’s still growling about decent Joes doing their best but getting screwed. On disc, the E Street Band—augmented since the deaths of keyboardist Danny Federici and sax pillar Clarence Clemons—is as strong as ever, nowhere more so than on the anthemic opener, the ever-so-American “We Take Care of Our Own.” (Rogers Arena, Nov. 26) Worlds apart in tone, yet just as steeped in the grand old myths, are the Punch Brothers. With traditional instrumentation (mandolin, fiddle, banjo, guitar, and bass), the newgrass quintet plays Appalachian roots music torqued up with jazz’s loopy time shifts. Their third album, Who’s Feeling Young Now?, is getting attention for the cover of Radiohead’s “Kid A” but it’s the aggression and self-loathing of songs like “Hundred Dollars” that really raises Old Glory. (Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, Nov. 24). Ticketmaster.com

Get the Newsletter

Own your city with Vancouver’s thrice-weekly scoop on the latest restaurant news, must-shop hotspots and can’t miss events. Rest assured your email is safe with us.