Words by: Brian Bavosa

Bruce Hornsby :: 05.03.07 :: McCarter Theater :: Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Bruce Hornsby
As the lights dimmed, a mature applause arose from the mostly older audience at Princeton University's McCarter Theater. Looking like a gangly ex-high school basketball player, and dressed simply in a pair of blue jeans and black silk shirt with the sleeves rolled up, Bruce Hornsby waved hello and sat behind his glistening Steinway & Sons grand piano. He quipped, "I'd like to introduce you to the rest of the band for tonight; my left hand." It was the first of many lighthearted jabs, something Hornsby has become know for over his illustrious twenty-plus year career, especially during his solo performances.

The ticket price included a copy of Hornsby's four CD, one DVD box set, Intersections: 1985-2005, originally released in July of 2006. The collection is an impressive, career-spanning look at his evolution from pop chart topper to classical Bach imitator and Grateful Dead sidekick.

Bruce Hornsby
Classical was the way this show opened, then "Sticks and Stones," a slower number close behind. "Hooray for Tom" had Hornsby speaking about spelling bees and his son's love/hate relationship with school, while a new song about Donald Trump absolutely bashed the playboy in every way possible. However, it was Hornsby's lighthearted delivery that invoked laughs. He mentioned it was part of an upcoming Broadway musical he has been commissioned to write. Everything the man did was graceful, done with ease while holding the entire audience in utter awe and amazement. It has been an extremely long time since I was unable to take my eyes off of a performer. It did not matter what time it was, or who might be calling my cell, I was honestly enraptured by the man's presence and playing throughout.

A first set closer of That's Just the Way It Is," saw a mix of pop, classical, and candy corn vocals that were as sweet as the first time you taste the springtime. The second set was filled with requests, most of which people had laid on the stage before the performance or at set break. "Spider Fingers" made me think Hornsby was born with twice as many digits on his hands as the rest of us. "Mandolin Rain" had me wanting to experience heartbreak once more if it were half as beautiful as this number, but we all know it isn't. "Gonna Be Some Changes Made" was the one song I went into the show wanting to hear, although Hornsby says it's more about "drooling and skinny dipping" than the self-reflection I always interpreted it to be.

Bruce Hornsby
Another humorous number was "The Dreaded Spoon," which debuted in Princeton on May 31, 2005. Hornsby explained that his father used to keep a spoon in his glove box, and when he took the kids for ice cream, he never got his own, but rather took a giant scoop of theirs. I still do not think he's over it.

After relentless pestering, Hornsby eventually pleased the "hippie" contingent by playing the lone Grateful Dead tune of the night, an encore of "Standing on the Moon," which he said was a nod to his performance at the Berkeley Community Theater last year. It was a heart-felt moment that made time stand still in the room for a few brief minutes.

Hornsby is a true performer in every sense of the word. He manages to draw the crowd close like a wise grandfather with his comedic rants. Or better yet, the uncle you love to joke around with over the holidays. Hornsby represents simplicity surrounded by a strong sense of the classical and Americana, that borders on being overly cocky, but has the chops and "spider fingers" to back it up.

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[Published on: 6/20/07]

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AdCo Wed 6/20/2007 08:01AM
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no doubt, hornsby is a true musician in every sense of the word. he's just got that natural ability to make the piano come alive. what a gift, what a performer.

sunnbear starstarstarstar Wed 6/20/2007 09:23AM
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I really enjoyed watching Bruce watching Jerry on stage, trying to follow/figure out where Jerry was going. They had a great relationship on the stage. Lot's of smiles and some unbelievably magic moments. I miss you Jerry!

Gille starstarstarstar Wed 6/20/2007 10:47AM
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"The Dreaded Spoon" That is absolutely hilarious! Great little anicdote to include... Good "mature" article and great to see it on this site, well done Brian and JB.

Robusto Wed 6/20/2007 11:44AM
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long live The Bruce!

QuantumTuba Wed 6/20/2007 12:54PM
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Haven't seen him live yet, but Bruce Hornsby still rocks!

rider11 starstarstarstarstar Wed 6/20/2007 12:57PM
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Great article. Thanks for the stories throughout. Bruce is truly an incredible performer, musician and leader. Can't wait to see Bruuuuce in CO late this summer!!

osmanc starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/21/2007 04:17AM
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Bruuuce! An absolutely incredible performer and what a great personality. Glad to see he's adding Standing on the Moon to the rotation, saw him do it at Chastain with the backing band not too long ago. Very moving.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/21/2007 05:09AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

I support Bruce. I loved him with the GD. I have seen his show only once, but it was great :))

cliftonhanger420 Thu 6/21/2007 09:13PM
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i've seen bruce with the GD, further fest. a few times, the other ones a few times, and bruce's show at least 3 times. he has never disappointed, he is a true musician. he loves what he does and he's a real down to earth guy. i remember him staying after the show to sign his new cd one of the times at the belk in charlotte. he's probably the only musician that lets girls from the audience dance on stage in hordes. i'd go see bruce anytime he's in town.

dedhed6111 starstarstarstarstar Fri 6/22/2007 03:01PM
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amen cliftonhanger. the bruce certainly never dissapoints. I've seen him about ten times over the past 15 years with several different bands and each time has been an absolute treasure. Is there anybody out there who is more of a "true musician" than Bruce Hornsby? and who has some of the biggest radio hits of all time, also? didn't think so. a lot of these guys playing keys in the bands today need to sit down and take a lesson from the master, the one and only bruce hornsby

joebrew starstarstarstarstar Mon 6/25/2007 09:59AM
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great article, hornsby is by all means the man. He sure can get a crowd going all by himself...just thought of something...
solo Hornsby/Keller tour! Lets make it happen!

FatChance Tue 6/26/2007 12:42PM
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anyone a fan of 'stander on the mountain' ?
this was a bruce song that Jerry liked as they played it just a handful of times at the most, most of which was in Europe. This song is one of Bruce's biggest gems, so please seek it out on Bruce's 'A Night on The Town' cd or on a GD bootleg...if you can find it

McGrumph Wed 6/27/2007 12:00PM
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Great article. I have seen Bruce perform with the Range and The Other Ones. Always a treat, but his solo performance in Fort Worth at the Bass Hall was simply amazing. One of the best shows I have ever seen. Thanks for the review, you nailed it.

PCPrabbit Fri 7/6/2007 08:57AM
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