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Lifted or The Story is in the Soil....

Author: Brian Orloff
10/05/2004 | Rollingstone.com | www.rollingstone.com | Feature
The day after the first presidential debate, the Vote for Change tour kicked off with six multi-artist bills in key "swing states." The performers -- including Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, R.E.M., Dave Matthews Band, the Dixie Chicks, Pearl Jam and Bonnie Raitt -- advocated voter participation, specifically in support of Senator John Kerry.

The star-studded tour visited Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan over the weekend and will continue this week through Wisconsin, Missouri and Florida. In total, there will be thirty-seven concerts in thirty cities before the tour wraps with an all-star finale featuring thirteen of the tour's headliners in Washington, D.C., on October 11th. That concert will be broadcast on the Sundance Channel, and proceeds from all shows will go to America Coming Together (ACT), a grassroots voter contact program in support of the Democratic candidate.

Here are some highlights from the weekend's shows:

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band/R.E.M./Bright Eyes:

In Philadelphia on Friday, Springsteen began the E Street Band's nineteen-song set with a solo rendition of the national anthem on acoustic guitar. Springsteen and his banded wasted no time trotting out politically charged favorites like "Born in the U.S.A," "Badlands" and "No Surrender," Kerry's unofficial campaign song.

Two hours into his set, Springsteen addressed the audience: "I know you all have been waiting for my public service announcement. We live in a land of great promise, but it's time to move Americans to embrace the great promises that she made to her citizens."

R.E.M. preceded Springsteen with an hour-long set, comprising staples like "The One I Love" and newer songs like "Bad Day" and "Final Straw," a protest song originally released online in 2003 after the beginning of the Iraq invasion; the song will be included on the band's new album, Around the Sun, due this Tuesday.

Springsteen was also joined onstage by John Fogerty, who performed his new Iraq-as-Vietnam protest song, "Deja Vu (All Over Again)." Fogerty aided Springsteen on "Centerfield" and charged through "Fortunate Son," his most famous political anthem; he also led the E Street Band through "Proud Mary." Fogerty and Springsteen traded verses later on "The Promised Land."

Other collaborations came early in the evening with Springsteen playing guitar with R.E.M. on the band's "Man on the Moon." Members of R.E.M. later joined Springsteen on "Born to Run." And the show closed with all performers joining in on Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" and Patti Smith's galvanizing "People Have the Power."

Opening act Bright Eyes (a.k.a. Conor Oberst) was especially direct in his political rhetoric, remarking, "A vote for Bush is like shitting in your own bed."


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