Bruce Springsteen Blazes A Trail Through Hartford’s XL Center

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Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the XL Center. (Michael McAndrews)

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?

Click here to see photos from this concert, and Springsteen concerts through the years.

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.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the XL Center. (Michael McAndrews)

“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.

Bruce Springsteen (right) and Jake Clemons at the XL Center. (Nick Caito)

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.

Bruce Springsteen hands the microphone to a young boy to sing the chorus of “Waitin’ On A Sunny Day.” (Nick Caito

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.

Set List:

Held Up Without A Gun
Radio Nowhere
Jackson Cage
Hungry Heart
We Take Care of Our Own
Wrecking Ball
Death to My Hometown
My City of Ruins
Spirit In the Night
Pink Cadillac
Incident on 57th Street
Point Blank
Because the Night
You Can Look but You Better Not Touch
Out in the Street
Shackled and Drawn
Waiting on a Sunny Day
For You
The Rising
Land of Hope and Dreams

Kitty’s Back
Bobby Jean
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Tenth Avenue Freezeout

What did you think of the show? Leave a comment below.

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19 thoughts on “Bruce Springsteen Blazes A Trail Through Hartford’s XL Center

  1. Eric

    We had a wonderful time. Thnak you to Bruce and the E Street Band. I am glad Clarence’s nephew is on board.
    God Bless Clarence and Danny.

  2. Evalyn McMahon

    Awesome concert….crazy times…makes us all feel like we are in our 20’s again. Bruce is an inspiration to all of us baby boomers. Get out there, have fun and live life! Bruce I love you!

  3. Lori Swazey

    Another awesome show. Thanks Bruce & the band for doing what you do & kicking —! I went to the show at Gillette and I did enjoy that set list more, but there is never a lousy Bruce show. Love the energy level & being part of it!

  4. Julie

    Bruce was climbing the fence to get to a boy he wanted to sing Waitin’ on a Sunny Day. Unfortutely, that boy’s chance of a lifetime was thwarted by (to quote Bruce) the actions of a ‘sex-crazed woman’ who would not let go of Bruce so he could reach the boy.
    The highlight of the show was the solo-acoustic For You.

    1. Mira

      Julie – You got it! That boy was my 10 year old daughter Hazel in her blue and yellow school sweatshirt, short brown hair and glasses. Watching the video of Bruce gesturing and speaking his plans to climb up there and being thwarted is nearly painful. But you can see him blow a kiss and a wave to her at the end, that helped! Mira

  5. Brenda eastman

    The show last night was wonderful,the article did forget to mention the 95 year old women Bruce reconized in the crowd. I’ve followed him my whole life,never benn disappointed.We love you Bruce!Still hot as ever!

  6. Becky

    Last night was our 4th time seeing him this tour.. (incl shows at Fenway this summer, then Gillette Stadium..) He was exceptionally awesome last night! So entertaining and energetic and soulful! phenomenal performance.. We love him and the E street band and will keep going to his shows until there aren’t any!

  7. Becky

    The woman was the 70 year old drummer’s mother who is 97!
    The crowd always includes people of all ages and he is loved by all!

  8. Jim

    Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! I’ve been to concerts for 37 years and this was the best. Bruce took charge of the coliseum like a preacher at a tent revival. He and the E Street band had the entire place rocking.

  9. Don Popillo

    Kick ass, ferocious Rock & Roll from a master showman who can still rock it at 63 years young. Oh, did I mention the incredible side musicians that filled the stage. Absolutely terrific.

  10. Jim

    My 1st show, 1977 @ Boston Music Hall Sept.24th. Some 40-50 shows later is my history with Bruce. Awesome, inspiring, spiritual and down right the BEST Rock show there is. Incident on 57 Street brought it all back to the first time. Growing up with his music somehow made it all right in my journey. Please remember what he’s all about, then smile. Thanks B & E.S.B. Forever Jim M.

  11. Beth

    It was a phenomenal show, as it always is with Bruce! Every musician on stage was masterful and soulful. We had the best seats I’ve ever had for a Springsteen concert, and I – for one – was bummed that he couldn’t make it to that first little boy, who was sitting just 2 rows in front of me. (Funny, I had noticed those girls before the show started and just knew they’d be bad news. It seemed to me that – to them – everything was all about them.) I would have loved hearing Backstreets, You’ve Got It, Lift Me Up, I’m a Rocker, Valentine’s Day, 4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy) as well as others. But LOVED hearing Because the Night and Land of Hope and Dreams! It *almost* didn’t even matter what songs they chose though, since everyone played their hearts out <3

  12. Connie

    Great, great, great. Everybody on stage was an amazing professional in an era when there’s lots of just “phoning it in”. I never thought I could still feel that uplifted/excited by a rock concert! Thank you, Bruce and the E Street Band!

  13. Scott Roberts

    I’m, going through some really harsh personal things now, and for three hours plus, it was all taken away. About my tenth time seeing Bruce over the years and eighth or so w the E St Band. AMAZING SET from the real surprise opener to the end. Pink Caddy and Point Black really stood out for me. The energy and the way Bruce commands the fans and how simply inspired his band plays, is unmatched. BEST LIVE PERFORMER period, whose songs MEAN something and make you actually think and understand sometimes about many things.

  14. Lori Warchol

    Almost embarassed to say this was my first Bruce concert OMG amazing. My friend that I went with his 38th and that was how it was with most of the people I met and spoke to. This band is incrediable. The musical talent amazing and the stage presence too much to commet on. His enthusisam is somthingto be seen no way 63 he acted 33. up on the piano and to jump down I cant even imagine how they do it. so grateful I got to finally experience this concert . I always wanted to but it never happended. Now I saw where is the next e-street band concert count me in I am there!!!!!

  15. Christopher Twomey

    My 11 year-old son and I literally travelled halfway across the globe specifically to see this show in my hometown and as expected, Bruce did not disappont!

    Bruce connected with the fans on so many levels and left us speechless. The trip from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to Bradley International took 25 hours transiting through Tokyo and Chicago, and we’d both do it again in heartbeat for just one more song!

    The crowd surfing, the song requests from the crowd and the solo piano version of I Came For You while the band tok a short (well-deserved) break was awesome!

    Thanks Bruce and the E Street Band!

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