Have you ever been to a gig where, the minute the band comes on stage, you know it’s going to be epic? Yes, this could have been one of those.
I had just seen Bruce play Wembley Stadium and it was amazing, but he didn’t seem too much on form. I made my parents wait for hours in 35 degrees summer sun so we could be at the front for this one. Thankfully, they love Bruce as much as I do so they were happy to do it. As I mentioned in Wembley, what I love about Bruce is that his inventory of songs is so massive and he uses all of it all the time. He doesn’t just play the usual favourites which he could easily do and people would still pay money. But no, this man plays songs that no one has heard live in 30 years. He starts off with ‘Roulette’, a tour premier. It’s a gamble with a crowd this big to play an opening song that only maybe 30% of the crowd know. But it’s Bruce so you dance along and sing along as best you can – or at least so I expected. Actually, he didn’t play a song that everyone knew until song 8 – Hungry Heart. Before that though, he played a couple sign requests. One of them being ‘You never can tell’ which is a Chuck Berry cover and the band hadn’t played this song in a few decades. It was an entertaining few minutes to watch the band find it’s rhythm and the right chords. And then they played like they played this song every night. That’s the amazing E-Street Band for you.
About half-wary through, and sweating like a pig, Bruce complained that he is doing all the work and no one was doing any dancing. Fair point. I was fairly annoyed myself. When you are a fan and could dance and sing to every song he plays and you see people just sitting in their seats starring (which fair enough you can do), it’s irritating because the man hasn’t played this city – ever. Later on, I developed the theory that most people went to this gig because of two reasons: a) it’s Bruce freaking Springsteen and b) they love ‘Born In The USA’, which by the way was the only song the entire stadium sang along too. I’m not a massive fan of that song, it’s mediocre at best. He has a lot of songwriting talent and BITUSA is just a scratch on the surface. His encore was clearly there to catch the crowd one last time. But still to no avail. It was painful and sad to see what could have been an epic gig turn into something that was just kind of enjoyable. He finished with the ever eerie beautiful ‘Thunder Road’ by himself on the stage. As in Wembley, this is so hauntingly amazing I cannot put it into words. One man can captivate a whole stadium by himself with just his voice, his words and his harmonica.
‘Sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road!’