I wrote about Bruce and the Dead and how different they are, even though if you think about it, they’re both overstaffed rock bands playing Chuck Berry songs in hockey arenas for white people. When you look at it that way and think about how exclusive a club that is, then yes there might be a resemblance.
But the moment of greatest divergence comes when Bruce Introduces The Band. Bruce once introduced the band for 35 minutes. If you were an acquaintance of Bruce’s and ran into him while he was with someone to whom you had not been introduced, just keep walking, man; Bruce will take a quarter-hour to say the person’s name, but it’ll be the greatest 15 minutes you ever spent. It is show-biz at its cheesiest, and therefore most authentic, best. He makes up little stories and cute pet names and shares wacky Jersey anecdotes and then you realize it’s been 12 minutes since he started this and he’s only at Roy Bittan. For a while, after Bruce rebuilt the Twin Towers and he became soulful and about family and settled into his latter-years role as “That guy from the AA meeting who calls everyone ‘brother’,” he turned the Band Intro into a song, an honest to god song about how much they all love each other even though they’re getting older and Bruce intros people, and EVERYBODY SINGS A WHOLE VERSE. It takes hooooooooooours.
The Dead did not do the show-biz introduction thing; it would not have gone well. Bobby would have to do it, of course. He had been pretending not to want to do it, but he REALLY, REALLY wanted to, so he kept dropping hints with everybody and no one knew what the fuck Bobby was talking about, so one night while Garcia was tuning and Phil was slapping a roadie, hard and in the face, Bobby just launches into–
“All right, people, lemme hear you! On the drums, stage left, Mr. Mickey–”
THWOCK a drumstick hits him in the back of the head, followed by a drum.
“That’s not cool! Over here on bass, from Palo Alto–”
“YOU KNOW YOUR PLACE, BOY!”
“Sorry, Phil. Ah, fuck, Garcia snuck into the bathroom. End of first set.”