Thursday, November 15, 2012

Concert Review: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Xcel Center

The view from our seats of Bruce and the E Street Band, 11/12/12. (Photo by Mark Taylor.)

On Monday night I saw Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band live for the first time at the Xcel Center. I had read about Bruce’s legendary three-hour concerts, but it was an amazing experience to actually be in the audience. Needless to say, it was a terrific show. Bruce packs so much emotion and intensity into each song. I don’t know how he does it. My wife said to me during the show, “I feel guilty sitting down during this concert because he’s working so hard. I feel like if he’s not sitting down I shouldn’t be sitting down either.” Springsteen has such a deep connection to his fans, and he seems so genuine in his interactions with them. He’s like the opposite of Bob Dylan, who hardly ever acknowledges the crowd in any way. 

Springsteen seemed to be in a great mood right away, as he did a lap through the crowd during the opening song, “I’m a Rocker.” He came about 10 or 20 feet away from where we were sitting. It was pretty cool to see him that up close. Bruce went back to the stage and sang “Hungry Heart,” and during the song he ran out into the audience again and crowd-surfed back to the stage. I was a little worried for Bruce, as it took the crowd a really long time to get him to the stage! But he made it back in one piece. He certainly could have waited longer into the show before he went down into the audience, but I think by doing it right away he raised the excitement level in the audience. Springsteen played some deep album cuts at the beginning of the concert, like “Night,” from “Born to Run.” He also sang a lot of songs from his most recent album, “Wrecking Ball.” One of the emotional high points of the night was Bruce’s speech during “My City of Ruins.” Bruce’s vocals on “My City of Ruins” were really moving, he reminded me of Sam Cooke. In Bruce’s speech he talked about ghosts and people who were no longer with us, which of course made everyone think of the late Clarence Clemons, Springsteen’s legendary saxophone player, who passed away in 2011. It also paid tribute to the late Danny Federici, the E Street Band’s longtime organ player. Springsteen’s current tour is the first E Street Band tour since Clemons died, and his nephew Jake Clemons played the saxophone solos in concert, and he did a terrific job. Jake sent shivers down my spine with his playing of the solo on “Jungleland.” 

“Pay Me My Money Down,” from “The Seeger Sessions,” was a highlight of the evening, featuring an enthusiastic performance from the entire band, and extended solos from the horn section. There were a lot of other great moments, like Bruce taking a bite of a candy bar offered to him by a young fan during “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day,” and, during the same song, Bruce picking a little girl out of the audience to sing the chorus with him. It was great to hear signature songs like “Badlands,” “Born to Run,” and “Dancin’ in the Dark,” which had the entire audience on their feet singing along with the Boss. “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” featured a moving video tribute to Clemons after Springsteen sang the lyric, “Well, the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band.” After “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” and “American Land,” it was finally time to go home, after three hours with the Boss.

Springsteen played a lot of lead guitar during the concert, and I was impressed with how good a guitar player he is. The rest of the E Street Band are all pretty darn amazing as well. Many times during the concert I thought to myself, “This is what rock and roll is all about, a performer giving it his all and communicating directly with his audience.” As long as there are performers like Bruce Springsteen, live music will continue to flourish and thrive. Of course, it helps that Springsteen is one of the greatest songwriters ever, as one of the greatest live performers. 

Set list:
1. I'm A Rocker
2. Hungry Heart
3. No Surrender
4. Night
5. Loose Ends
6. Something In The Night
7. Stolen Car
8. We Take Care Of Our Own
9. Wrecking Ball
10. Death To My Hometown
11. My City Of Ruins
12. The E Street Shuffle
13. Pay Me My Money Down
14. Devils & Dust
15. Youngstown
16. Murder Incorporated
17. She's The One
18. Shackled And Drawn
19. Waitin' On A Sunny Day
20. The Rising
21. Badlands
22. Land Of Hope And Dreams
23. Jungleland
24. Born To Run
25. Dancin' in the Dark
26. Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
27. American Land

No comments: