With the buildup to a Bruce Springsteen concert, the amount of hype seems exaggerated or almost comical.
“It’s a fantastic performance.” “He’s all about the fans.” “They’re incredible live.”
Repeated over and over by the legions of fans, many of whom followed the musician for decades of his career, tracking his movements and craning over telephones to buy tickets at 10 a.m. on a Friday.
Well, they’re right. Very right.
At age 63, The Boss marches across stage howling, drops to his knees and bounds about with vim and vigor difficult to find in musicians half his age. Keeping up such an energy level for more than three hours a night, every night of tour seems unfathomable. It must be the product of very good genetics, a steady exercise regiment, or performance enhancers. Or all three?
Even Nils Lofgren, who underwent hip replacement surgery a few years back, had his own moment of intensity during “Because The Night.” Lofgren spun like a top on one leg, missing nary a note to his intense solo.
“We ain’t got no time for tired in the E Street Band!” exclaimed Springsteen on stage. “We’re on a mission! We don’t know what the f*** it is, but we’re on a mission!”
Okay, then that explains it.
The night wasn’t without its own somber times. This was the E Street Band’s first tour since the death of Clarence Clemons in 2011. Nicknamed ‘The Big Man,’ he was a pillar of the band and stalwart for their live performances.
“From our ghosts to your ghosts,” Springsteen mulled before “My City Of Ruins.” “Take a minute, feel our ghost on stage… I can hear him in your voices.” Pausing during the closer “10th Avenue Freeze Out” line “And the Big Man joined the band,” the performance froze in mid-sentence for a long moment of silence.
Clemons’s nephew, Jake, filled the lineup’s gap with commanding solos and a soulful intonation that was warmly received by the crowd. He seemed slightly unsure of his new spotlight when Springsteen called him up to the front of the stage during his solos. However musically, he belonged there.
Springsteen had constant encounters with the audience, from collecting signs requesting songs (Pink Cadalliac, Incident On 57th Street), pulling a woman on stage during “Dancing In The Dark,” and getting a boost from security guards so he could shake hands in the stands.
However the height came only four songs in, when Springsteen crowd surfed, Wayne’s World style, from a platform in the arena back to the stage. Or perhaps it was when a roughly 5 year old boy was handed the microphone to sing the chorus of “Waitin’ On A Sunny Day.”
Choosing just one moment would from a set that stretched more than three hours would be difficult. The E Street Band pelting through 21 songs before taking a short breather before a 5 song encore that included a roughly 20 minute rendition of “Kitty’s Back,” replete with solos from every instrument in the band.
In the end the Boss and his band proved that they’ve still got it with little to no sign of stopping- like pianist Roy Bittan said they were still up there plugging away.
The hype was right.
Held Up Without A Gun
We Take Care of Our Own
Death to My Hometown
My City of Ruins
Spirit In the Night
Incident on 57th Street
Because the Night
You Can Look but You Better Not Touch
Out in the Street
Shackled and Drawn
Waiting on a Sunny Day
Land of Hope and Dreams
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Tenth Avenue Freezeout
What did you think of the show? Leave a comment below.