In 104 actual pages, Caryn Rose makes a convincing case for the divergent interests of US and European rock audiences, shadowing Springsteen and the E Street Band across Europe on their Wrecking Ball tour. From Paris and Prague to London and Dublin, Rose creates brief concert memoirs with a focus on vignettes. She illustrates how very different the EU eye and ear are -- psychographically and demographically -- from American audiences. The Americans, driven more by commercialism, easily distracted, more spotty in cultural literacy, seem oafish compared to the Europeans-- at least in this particular work.
Having seen the Wrecking Ball Tour two weeks ago in America, I found our audience of 20,000 far more participant, respectful and exuberant than Rose's characterization. Still, Rose knows her topic, and has seen enough Springsteen through her editorial work in BACKSTREETS, to admit exceptions to her rules.
She is a brisk, economical writer with a wonderful eye for detail and thirst to learn more about the sites she visits. She treats Springsteen and the Band with respect instead of adoration, and through her shadow experiment, emphasizes what a positive, potent force these fine musicians are at their best.
More a series of essays, or a brief collection of articles than a "book," the author errs by writing such a brief work about such a large topic. I felt shorted. I had too many unanswered questions, and was put off to find that 20% of the text was a pitch for Rose's upcoming novel. Not a smart choice in this case.
Still, RAISE YOUR HAND is an inexpensive, well-produced, must-have for any Springsteen fan. Had this been a longer work, or had Rose created a longer collective work including some of her own essays, this might have been a really significant read.
Buy it if you enjoy well-crafted rock journalism, and keep an eye on this writer,especially her non-fiction. I expect to see her name again on a far more substantial book.