Concert Review – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – Foxboro, MA

So how did I wind up getting a ticket for a show that I could not get into for love or money just a few months prior? On the exact same tour? Don’t know, but maybe there was some “Bruce overload” in the area. Adele was playing at the Garden the same night. Do they draw from a similar pool? The place was packed, but not entirely sold out. So I managed to grab tickets at face value without too much trouble…

This particular tour – which, it so happens ended that night – was called “The River” tour. And so they have been playing that album pretty much in its entirety. It’s not my favorite but it’s still a good album. I knew I’d review the show but I thought that since there are a million “Bruce was great, blah-blah” posts out there, my initial thought was I would write a post on “my random impressions of the show.”

But then something amazing happened. Anyone who read my posts on Springsteen knows that I am a long-time fan. And while I love much of his work, my favorite era is that of his first three albums, from the early ’70’s. I love that sometimes jazzy, sometimes quasi-operatic, always romantic rock that he did back then. And while I’ve seen him a number of times, I’ve never – even in the early days – seen him perform other than one or two songs from either of his first two albums.

So imagine my complete and utter surprise when the very first song he did was “New York City Serenade” from The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle. Complete with string section! I was completely blown away by his doing this fantastic tune which I previously featured as A Song I Love. That alone would have made the show for me. And so then I thought well, that’s it for the early albums, on to The River.

But I think Bruce may have forgotten the name of the tour or where he was. Perhaps he was distracted by a shiny object. Because with one exception – 1978’s “Prove it All Night,” – the next 10 songs were from the first two albums!! Did I enter a time warp of some sort? Had I died and gone to heaven? “Blinded by the Light.” “It’s Hard to be a Saint in the City.” “Kitty’s Back and “Rosalita” on the same night? “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?” I don’t even remember that one. Even Madame Marie couldn’t have seen this one coming!

I kept thinking, oh well, the last half of the show will be The River. But for whatever reason it never happened. Maybe the guys got sick of playing it. Because they played exactly two songs from River, “Hungry Heart,” and “Out in the Street.” Five songs from The Wild, The Innocent! Six songs from Asbury Park! Four songs from Warm Beers on the Hood of a Dodge on the Jersey Shore. (Ok, I totally made that last one up.)

As to the band, do I need to tell you that they were on fire? Or that it takes most artists an hour to work their way up to where Bruce starts? And man these guys were having fun. I’ve never seen Steve Van Zandt smile up a storm so much. I can’t say that this was the best Springsteen show ever because how could I possibly know that. But I can say it was – hands-down – the best of the 6 (7?) I’ve seen back to 1977. And it may well be the best show I’ve ever seen in my life. A few other highlights:

  • Bruce going out into the audience a couple of times to stand on a riser and sing
  • Seemingly half the audience on-stage for “Dancing  in the Dark.” He even handed the gal he danced with a guitar and she played along!
  • “Incident” going into “Rosalita,” exactly like on the album.
  • Detroit Medley – I have never heard him play this live.
  • Bruce’s rap about how much time he spent practicing Rolling Stones and Beatles songs over and over and over again till he got it right.
  • Because the Night. Outstanding.
  • The Rising. Poignant, just several days after 9/11.
  • Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out. The story of the band with films of the late Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons.
  • Bruce having a cape inscribed with “The Boss” thrown on him a la James Brown as he left the stage prior to the encore.
  • Those three gigantic movie-sized screens (and great, but not too loud sound) that made you feel totally immersed no matter where you sat. I can’t tell you how much it makes a difference to actually see him larger than a small dot in the distance.
  • Eleven of the songs he played being on my Top Twenty Springsteen list.

Some dude got talking to me outside the venue prior to the show. He told me he was from Utah and came all the way to Massachusetts to meet up with some friends to see the show. Then as we were talking he randomly pulled out this phony $1,000,000 bill with Springsteen on it. He says he bought a bunch of them off the Internet and just goes around giving them out. So he gave me one. Then he got up, walked away, and that was the last I saw of him. It’s pretty well made and almost feels real. Very strange.

bruce-money

One other thing: as Bruce has gotten older – he’ll be 67 in a few days – rather than play less his shows have actually gotten longer. This beast clocked in at 4 hours and 2 minutes. If you’re a non-Bruce fan, that’s not a typo. Four hours, two minutes, no intermission. I stood most of the time, sitting only once to get my second wind around, oh, 11:15 pm or so. Alas, records were not broken here. The longest show he’s done was 4 hours, 6 minutes in Helsinki, Finland just recently. I demand a recount. 😀

So, just an awesome, tremendously satisfying show. I am definitely ordering this show off his site as soon as it’s available. As to why Bruce played those early albums I do have what I think is a reasonable theory. My thought is he reads my blog, knows I live in the area and said to himself (in that raspy heh-heh voice), well if the Music Enthusiast shows up, I don’t want to disappoint him. That, at least, is my theory and I’m sticking by it. 😂

Set List:

-New York City Serenade
-Prove it All Night
-Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
-Blinded by the Light
-It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City
-Growin’ Up
-Spirit in the Night
-Lost in the Flood
-Kitty’s Back
-Incident on 57th Street
-Rosalita
-No Surrender
-Boom Boom (John Lee Hooker cover)
-Darkness on the Edge of Town
-Radio Nowhere
-Hungry Heart
-Out In the Street
Detroit Medley
-Light of Day
-4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
-American Skin (41 Shots)
-The Promised Land
-Because the Night
-The Rising
-Badlands

ENCORE
-Long Walk Home
-Jungleland
-Born to Run
-Dancing in the Dark
-Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
-Shout (with Peter Wolf)
-Rockin’ All Over the World (John Fogerty cover)
-Bobby Jean

17 thoughts on “Concert Review – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – Foxboro, MA

  1. Great post! I’ve yet to catch Bruce live (ticket prices here make me feel sick as – like so many big acts – the UK gets maybe one or two dates on a European tour) but there’s no doubting he’s untouchable as a performer.
    A few years back when they’d started dusting off whole albums in mid-set they played The River through and, after, Bruce had said he wouldn’t do it again as he’d forgotten how long it was. I wasn’t too surprised, then, to hear that they’d given up playing it through after the first leg of this tour – my guess is it’s not only too long but the format too restrictive. That and, of course, he’s one of your subscribers

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    1. Yeah, if Bruce isn’t (literally) the world’s greatest performer, it’s not clear to me who is. It’s not just the impossible durations of his marathon shows. It’s the sheer joy of a man who loves what he does. And sings each song with the conviction of someone who believes each word like it’s the first time he’s sung it.

      Frankly I’d pretty much given up hope of ever seeing him again. Between ticket prices and the bots used by resellers, I just figured there was no way. But I think old Stringbean may have saturated the market this time.

      BTW, you may well be aware that Bruce has an autobiography out. That should be interesting.

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        1. Yes, I found that out just that night. He’s now going on his book signing tour. Is he going to the UK? I thought the tour was over. If you can find a way to go, go. It is money well spent. Not all our income can go to fixing the car! 😀

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        2. Ah, no; I believe it’s the turn of the antipodean fans next.
          Perhaps I’ll catch him on the tour for his next album (he’s hinted it’s more of a solo outing over band) when my money and time aren’t tied up in house purchase

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        3. Perhaps you need to rethink this to the point of saying you’ll get around to buying a house when your money and time aren’t tied up in following Springsteen. Priorities, man. 😂

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  2. This is so freaking awesome! I love when the planets align together and all your wishes come true. I never thought you were ever going to get to see Bruce again and just so happy you could live your dream out and in such a great way by hearing all of your favorite songs. I’ve been reading about Bruce’s band going for so many hours and wondered if their age combined with the recent deaths of so many great musicians, helped them to get motivated to give record-breaking performances. Although I have to say, I do like your story better. BTW – best review of a concert ever! I felt like I was there.

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    1. Thanks. Truthfully, I read a really good review that I liked better than mine that I wanted to share. But I can’t find it.If I do, I’ll post it in a comment. He mentioned things I’d forgotten about like the intense guitar duel on one song between Steve van Zandt and Springsteen. There’s a lot of guitars and a lot of guitar playing at a Springsteen show but it gets lost in reviews sometimes.

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  3. He likes to keep his shows fresh so I guess you caught him hitting the refresh button on the ‘River’ thing. I love all that early stuff same as you. Dr don’t you dig when he does covers? He is a fan of rock n roll just like us. I mean ‘Boom Boom Boom’, ‘Devil With the Blue Dress’, ‘Rockin All Over the World’, ‘Shout’ with our buddy Wolf. Man what a treat. The guy just celebrates Rock n Roll each night out.

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  4. Yeah. And most acts you go see are saying Good Night at the 1 1/2 hour mark. This guy’s just getting warmed up. Four hours! 67 years old. Think about that. I did wind up buying the show. Imagine that. We can download whatever live show we want a week or two later rather than waiting for some live show that maybe hits the mark, maybe doesn’t. A great night.

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