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.
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. 😂
-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
-Spirit in the Night
-Lost in the Flood
-Incident on 57th Street
-Boom Boom (John Lee Hooker cover)
-Darkness on the Edge of Town
-Out In the Street
-Light of Day
-4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
-American Skin (41 Shots)
-The Promised Land
-Because the Night
-Long Walk Home
-Born to Run
-Dancing in the Dark
-Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
-Shout (with Peter Wolf)
-Rockin’ All Over the World (John Fogerty cover)