It’s been almost three days since spending the night on E-Street and the high I left on is yet to lose any of its edge. Springsteen and the E-Street Band demonstrated to all that gathered why they remain a unique musical force on the world stage. Thursday night (March 14), was their first show for 2013, and the anticipation among the 17 musicians on stage (yep, you read that right) was tangible, their bond, magnetic; each of them played for their lives, wringing every last note from their respective instruments. Here’s a great example, with Nils tearing up his fretboard in Because The Night.
The set list was studded with masterpieces from their 40+ year career as well as six cuts from 2012’s Wrecking Ball. For anyone wondering whether the new material would stack up live; it more than did; set opener We Take Care Of Our Own laid the foundation for the rest of the show, Bruce and co. giving it some added grunt; and the audience reciprocated, singing it back as loud as the band pumped it out. And if that wasn’t enough to whip the crowd from their seats, the cover of Brisbane legends, The Saints 1986 classic, Just Like Fire Would, certainly did.
I have to admit, I was choking back tears for the first 5 songs… such is the emotion Springsteen creates. For me he is one of the few artists in this world that really matters; one of the few whose lyrics continue to shape lives; whose energy continues to inspire and amaze. Early classics like Spirit in the Night and E-Street Shuffle show no signs of their forty years; in fact the outro to E-Street Shuffle was one of the absolute highlights of the night; the horn section, including the late, great Clarence Clemons nephew, Jake on Saxophone, giving it some real swing.
But talk of highlights is foolish, as there was not a song in the 25 song setlist that didn’t deliver. Few artists are able to play songs spanning 40 years and have them all sit seamlessly side by side. This is yet another fact that makes this band so remarkable.
Speaking of the setlist, here it is…
We Take Care Of Our Own (from Wrecking Ball, 2012)
Just Like Fire Would (The Saints cover)
Wrecking Ball (from Wrecking Ball, 2012)
Badlands (from Darkness On The Edge Of Town
Death To My Hometown (from Wrecking Ball, 2012)
Hungry Heart (from The River, 1980)
My City of Ruins (from The Rising, 2002)
Spirit In The Night (from Greetings From Asbury Park, 1973)
The E Street Shuffle (from The Wild The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, 1973)
Jack Of All Trades (from Wrecking Ball, 2012)
Murder Incorporated (from Greatest Hits, 1985)
Johnny 99 (from Nebraska, 1982)
Because The Night (from Live 1975/85, 1986)
She’s The One (from Born To Run, 1975)
Shackled and Drawn (from Wrecking Ball, 2012)
Waitin’ On A Sunny Day (from Working On A Dream, 2009)
The Rising (from The Rising, 2002)
The Ghost Of Tom Joad (from The Ghost of Tom Joad, 1995)
Thunder Road (from Born To Run, 1975)
We Are Alive (from Wrecking Ball, 2012)
Born To Run (from Born To Run, 1975)
Glory Days (from Born In The USA, 1984)
Dancing In The Dark (from Born In The USA, 1984)
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (from Born To Run, 1975)
I went knowing that the ghosts of Clarence and Danny would be in the room; and there were two distinct moments when you could really feel their force. Bruce asked us all to remember the ghosts who walk beside us before delivering what was one of the most spiritually uplifting moments of the night, My City Of Ruins; and in set closer, Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, he stopped the band as he finished the line;
When the change was made uptown
And the big man joined the band
and on the big screens that flickered above the stage, we were given the opportunity to say our goodbyes to the Big Man and Danny; though, as Bruce said, they will forever remain in the band.
Like the showman he is, Springsteen worked the crowd. Throughout the night he lifted two women from the audience; one to sing Waitin’ On A Sunny Day; and one to be his dance partner at the end of Dancing in the Dark; he even crowd surfed his way from the middle of the Entertainment Centre during Hungry Heart.
There was no slowing down; no letting up; the band’s contagious energy surging throughout the 3 and a bit hour show. If it takes another 10 years for the E-Street Band to reach our shores, I will be waiting. Nights like this have the power to live inside of us forever.