Monday, September 24, 2012

The Lightning & The Pouring Rain Can't Stop The Boss On His Birthday

Not even bad weather could stop Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band from taking the stage on the eve of his 63rd birthday. Shortly before the show began this past Saturday, the public address system at MetLife Stadium came to life, and an announcement advised everyone to move inside due to severe thunderstorms in the area. After two hours of huddling together inside ramps and concession areas, fans were allowed back into the stadium. Bruce & the band took the stage about 10:30pm, as he joked “I think I just invited 50,000 people to my birthday party,” before launching into a rousing “Out in the Streets.” The three and a half hour show that followed (his third & final concert in New Jersey on this leg of the "Wrecking Ball" tour) can only be called epic.

Springsteen’s energetic live performances are always part concert, part physical & emotional workout and part spiritual revival. The show moved from the straight ahead rock & roll power of songs like “Badlands” to the moving, elegiac “My City of Ruins,” originally penned in the aftermath of 9/11. There were a few stories & quieter moments, including some beautiful words about ghosts & departed souls, as Bruce asked the crowd to reflect not only on departed E Street Members Clarence Clemons & Danny Federici, but those we've lost in our own lives, and to remember that their spirits are still with us. Material from Bruce’s latest album, Wrecking Ball was mixed with some excellent covers, including the very appropriate  “Who’ll Stop The Rain?” and a generous selection of E Street classics: “The Ties That Bind,” “Working On The Highway,” “Glory Days” and many more. Special guest Gary US Bonds joined the band and performed “Jole Blon” and “This Little Girl,” from his 1981 album Dedication, which was produced by Springsteen & Little Steven Van Zandt.

Just before midnight, Bruce launched into “Janey, Don’t You Lose Heart” which was followed by the crowd singing “Happy Birthday,” to the delighted Springsteen, who shouted back “Let me hear you!”  The guys then tore through a soulful version of ”In The Midnight Hour,” which kicked off the show's second half, which was even more amazing than the first. As usual, the whole band sounded fantastic; Max Weinberg's drum attack & Nils Lofgren’s searing guitar work were outstanding, and a particular highlight. Jake Clemons, Clarence’s nephew, did an admirable job playing his late uncle’s memorable solos, especially on “Jungleland” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.” Springsteen’s high energy was contagious, charging up both the band & the fans throughout the show, as he danced, leapt & ran across the stage, braving the rain that continued to fall on & off throughout the evening.

The Wrecking Ball material sounded wonderful live (especially fantastic versions of “Rocky Ground” and “Shackled & Drawn”) and as usual, Bruce threw in a few surprises, including “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City” and “Meeting Across The River.” During the encore, Bruce’s Mom and some other family members brought out a cake for the rocker. Everyone sang “Happy Birthday” again as Bruce handed out pieces of cake to some lucky fans in the front row. The Boss’s Mom even danced & sang backup on the final song “Twist & Shout.” As the show ended around 2am, a tired but very satisfied group of fans filed for the exits, having seen yet another classic Springsteen show. I've seen Bruce several times, and he never disappoints, but I have to say that this was one of his best live performances. The man & his music never fail to entertain, enthrall & inspire me. And he can still rock like nobody's business. Here's a link to the performance of "Badlands" from 9-22-12 : Here's the set list for the show:

1. Out in the Street

2. The Ties That Bind

3. Cynthia
4. Badlands

5. Who'll Stop the Rain
6. Cover Me

7. Downbound Train
8. We Take Care of Our Own

9. Wrecking Ball

10. Death to My Hometown

11. My City of Ruins

12. It's Hard To Be A Saint in the City
13. Jole Blon (With Gary US Bonds)

14. This Little Girl (With Gary US Bonds)
15. Pay Me My Money Down
16. Janey Don't You Lose Heart
17. In the Midnight Hour
18. Into The Fire
19. Because The Night

20. She's The One

21. Working on the Highway

22. Shackled and Drawn

23. Waiting on a Sunny Day
24. Meeting Across The River
25. Jungleland

26. Thunder Road

27. Rocky Ground

28. Born To Run

29. Glory Days

30. Seven Nights to Rock
31. Dancing in the Dark
32. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
33. Twist and Shout

Next time: We begin a month long series of Halloween recommendations as we check into Horror Hotel (1960)

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