"I will provide for you, and I'll stand by your side," Bruce Springsteen sang at one point during his show Tuesday night at the TD Banknorth Garden. "You'll need a good companion for this part of the ride." Over the course of almost three hours, Springsteen was that companion, taking the audience through hard times and to salvation, raising us up on his shoulders, and showing us that there are brighter days ahead. As always, it was a thrilling, exciting, exhausting show, one that was light on promotion for his latest album
and heavier on barn burning revivalism.
What more can really be said about Springsteen concerts than I have already said
in previous postings
? Whenever I see him live, I'm always reminded of Bono's speech
when he inducted Bruce into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: "They call him the Boss. Well that's a bunch of crap. He's not the boss. He works for
us." And how. No one in music works harder, puts more into a show, exceeds every expectation, and does it night after night after night after night. The man is just amazing. No wonder he's my favorite live performer. And that band! The "heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, earth-quaking, nerve-breaking, history-making, legendary" E Street Band never lets him down, even on songs they haven't performed in more than 20 years.
I'm talking about ZZ Top's "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide," which Bruce performed for the first time since 1987 (which was, of course, when he was on a hiatus from the E Streeters; he performed it with
the band in 1984). It was one of his audience requests, and even on that, the band wasn't stumped. This middle part of the show — when Bruce takes signs from the audience and plays some of the better requests — is a definite highlight these days and I always love seeing what he picks. Other requests Tuesday night included "I'm Going Down" and "Growin' Up."
But back to that message of hope and salvation. The setlist
on this tour has a definite theme to it, with a section early on that includes "Seeds," "Johnny 99," and, especially, "The Ghost of Tom Joad" calling to mind the struggles that so many are facing today. But for every song that talks about struggle, there is another that talks of redemption. Those three songs were answered by "Waiting on a Sunny Day," "The Promised Land," and, in the encore, "Land of Hope and Dreams." Bruce also sings the more pointed "Hard Times (Come Again No More)," which seems to sum it all up right there. In this context, some songs, like "The Rising," have even more meaning, and others, like "Born to Run," mean something different ("Someday, girl, I don't know when, we're gonna get to that place where we really want to go, and we'll walk in the sun").
Of course, this was still a Bruce Springsteen show, and it had all the hallmarks: incredible musicianship (by Nils Lofgren and Max Weinberg's son, Jay, especially), enthusiastic crowd participation, and no distractions. In fact, with the exception of a smoke machine that was employed during "Outlaw Pete," there was no set or special effects. Just Bruce, the band, and the music. And he played some great classics, like "Rosalita," "Adam Raised a Cain," "Badlands," "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," and, of course, the highlight of any concert, "Born to Run." No matter how many times the guy plays that song and no matter how many times I hear it, it never gets old.
No surprise: Bruce came, he saw, and he conquered, just like he's done so many times in the past. He's just an amazing performer, and no amount of hyperbole can adequately get that across. Tuesday night's show was just the latest in a long line of impressive evenings. I wonder what Wednesday night's show has in store. Good thing I'll be there to find out.
(Thanks to Backstreets.com
for a couple of the photos you see here.)Update 4/23: Here's a link
to my night two review.
Labels: Bruce Springsteen, concerts, music