BC: Christmas 2010/Valentines Day 2011 Always, Marija
FC: Springsteen | 2007-2009
1: 19 and Counting October 2, 2007 Hartford, CT November 19, 2007 Boston, MA February 28, 2008 Hartford, CT July 27, 2008 Giants Stadium, NJ July 31, 2008 Giants Stadium, NJ August 2, 2008 Gillette Stadium, MA April 21, 2009 Boston,MA April 22, 2009 Boston, MA April 24, 2009 Hartford, CT May 14, 2009 Albany, NY May 23, 2009 Izod Center, NJ August 25, 2009 Saratoga, NY September 30, 2009 Giants Stadium, NJ October 2, 2009 Giants Stadium, NJ October 3, 2009 Giants Stadium, NJ October 8, 2009 Giants Stadium, NJ October 9, 2009 Giants Stadium, NJ November 7, 2009 MSG, NY November 8, 2009 MSG,NY
2: October 2, 2007 / Hartford, CT / Hartford Civic Center | Notes: The official kick-off of the Magic tour comes on Bruce Springsteen Day, as it was declared by Connecticut governor Jodi Rell. Bruce and the E Street Band took the Hartford Civic Center stage at 8:25 and played a two-hour-and-20-minute show, sticking pretty close to the basic set they'd established at last week's warm-up concerts. But in a full arena, as opposed to the few thousand people they played for at the rehearsals, there's a whole different energy level in the room, and Bruce and the band upped their game accordingly. A few rough spots, as to be expected on opening night, and pacing issues remain, but they've been making progress every night, the show just getting better and tighter. In fact, could this be the best E Street Band opening night yet? Certainly more cylinders firing from the get-go than on the Rising tour, and with Bruce and the band in great spirits, laughing with each other, it was very loose and comfortable for a first show. There's a reason for those warm-ups, huh? The opening barrage is a powerhouse, with "Ties" wickedly tight, and there was also a particularly powerful three-pack in the middle of the set: "Reason to Believe" into "Night" into "She's the One." As one fan eloquently told me: "Wowza!" This new arrangement of "Reason" remains the highlight of the show, aside from hearing the new stuff live. No additional songs from Magic other than what had been rehearsed; the only song added to the set tonight was a straightforward "Darkness on the Edge of Town," replacing "Born in the U.S.A." "Darkness" was an audible, and it seemed like Bruce used it as a place of comfort, to refocus himself and the band after "Town Called Heartbreak," which is still trying to find its way in terms of connecting with the crowd. In the encore, not many in the Hartford crowd seemed to recognize "Thundercrack," but "Born to Run" had them going nuts. On the show-closing "American Land," a trio of gals in the pit were moved to dance an Irish jig. And what the hell was that thing? Before the band came out, a crazy musical contraption rose up on stage, looking like it might become part of the magic show (which would almost top the kitchen sink from the Sessions tour). It disappeared as the concert got underway, but left some fans scratching their heads. Turns out it was a restored calliope that Bruce had just been given as a gift, he figured he'd show it off. Watch for Bruce's new tie in Philly!
3: Setlist: Radio Nowhere The Ties That Bind Lonesome Day Gypsy Biker Magic Reason to Believe Night She's the One Livin' in the Future The Promised Land Town Called Heartbreak Darkness on the Edge of Town Darlington County Devil's Arcade The Rising Last to Die Long Walk Home Badlands * * * Girls in Their Summer Clothes Thundercrack Born to Run Waitin' on a Sunny Day American Land
4: November 19, 2007 / Boston, MA / TD Banknorth Garden | Notes: Amid rumors that Danny Federici's health would prevent him from making the trip to Europe next week, Bruce and the E Street Band closed out their North American leg with a stunner of a show in Boston. And while we believe strongly in respecting his privacy, we simply can't talk about this night without talking about Danny. His talent, the band's love for the man, the crowd's love for the man -- all were there for all to see. This show was all about Dan Federici. The setlist (and oh, what a setlist) was clearly crafted with him in mind. There were the two tour premieres -- "This Hard Land" giving Danny a stretched-out solo spot, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" recalling the formation of the E Street Band, of which Danny was of course a founding member (easy to forget that only he, Clarence, and Garry go all the way back). And then the three songs from those Wild & Innocent early days -- reprising the "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)"/"E Street Shuffle" two-fer from Albany, and adding "Kitty's Back" for good measure -- all of which gave Danny chances to shine. Federici's "Kitty" solo, at Bruce's urging, went on and on. "Sandy," too, was a spotlight moment, with Danny strapping on the accordion; bringing him front and center, Bruce called out, "Ladies and Gentlemen, winner of the Ted Mack Amateur Hour!" Tossed-off ad lib that it was, that remains a significant moment to me as I think back on the show today. It was a night of good humor. It was a night of musicianship, of history, of shared history, and of the joy of making music together in the present moment. It wasn't a maudlin night. There was no overt reference to any leave of absence, certainly no mention of any health issues. What do you do in the face of those things instead? You get up there and play. And they played their hearts out. "Darkness" was ablaze. The whacked-out funk coda of "E Street Shuffle" was a killer, with Max going nuts on the drums. "The Rising" was more determined than I've heard it since '03. "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" was a blast, and wicked tight, even with a way-loose Peter Wolf up there shakin' it with Patti. And what else do you do? If you're Nils, you spend as much time as you can up on the organ riser, playing shoulder-to-shoulder. If you're Bruce, you head over to Danny during the bows at show's end and throw your arm around him, with a look on your face that says "godammit, I know we said we weren't going to talk about this tonight, but you can't stop me from doing this," and you bring him to the center of the pack, and he takes a bow of his own. And if you're the crowd, you chant "Danny! Danny! Danny!" It was as spontaneous as the "E Street Band" chant at Madison Square Garden on July 1, 2000 -- with fewer dry eyes, I imagine, both onstage and off.
5: Setlist: Radio Nowhere Night Lonesome Day Gypsy Biker Magic Reason to Believe Darkness on the Edge of Town Candy's Room She's the One Livin' in the Future This Hard Land 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) The E Street Shuffle Working on the Highway Devil's Arcade The Rising Last to Die Long Walk Home Badlands * * * Girls in Their Summer Clothes Tenth Avenue Freeze-out Kitty's Back Born to Run American Land
6: February 28, 2008 / Hartford, CT / XL Center | Notes: We'll admit it, for the first night back after more than two months off, we were expecting a standard show, maybe a little halting, as Springsteen and the E Street Band got their feet back under them. But from the beginning -- as Bruce hollered "Is there anybody alive out there!" and went not into "Radio Nowhere" but "So Young and in Love" to start -- he and the band were immediately up to speed, and Hartford was a hot, high-energy show. In mid-season shape from the moment they took the stage, they were also clearly determined to offer something new for this second swing around North America, with three top-tier tour debuts from Tracks. In addition to that surprise opener, "Loose Ends" was very well received, with Bruce and Steve sharing extended vocals at the end. The third premiere was played appropriately enough "for Janey," it was "Janey Don't You Lose Heart." Nils' first recorded vocal with the E Street Band, tonight the song put the spotlight on him once again, a great moment as he took over to sing the second verse. Patti Scialfa was absent tonight, as was Danny Federici, with Charles Giordano continuing to fill in on organ as he did in Europe (tonight was his U.S. debut with the E Streeters). After telling the crowd that Patti sends her love, Bruce went on to say that Danny does too, offering a long-awaited update to fans who've been wondering about the Phantom: "He's doing all right. Hopefully he'll make it out for a few shows on this leg of the tour." Bruce also took the moment to recognize Charlie and give him a bow. Working the stage and the crowd hard, Bruce added a few new thoughts to the often downbeat "Livin' in the Future" rap: "I feel some changes coming... I feel a new wind!" The set-closing five-pack remains intact, with some nice refinements to "Long Walk Home" carrying over from its evolving arrangement on the European tour. Nils and particularly Steve get to step up on vocals at the end, to great effect. "Dancing in the Dark" dropped out of the encore to make room for an epic doubleshot, "Backstreets" into "Kitty's Back," where Charlie really got a chance to shine. And opening night -- not a warm-up by any means -- came to a familiar close with "American Land." "This show just put a big dent in my bank account," a friend of mine told me afterward. How come? "Before, I was on the fence about how many I was going to see this time," he said. "After 'Loose Ends' I realized, dammit, I'm gonna have to see 'em all."
7: Setlist: Radio Nowhere No Surrender Lonesome Day Gypsy Biker Magic Reason to Believe Jackson Cage She's the One Livin' in the Future The Promised Land I'll Work For Your Love Tunnel of Love Working on the Highway Devil's Arcade The Rising Last to Die Long Walk Home Badlands * * * Girls in Their Summer Clothes Jungleland Born to Run Dancing in the Dark American Land
8: July 27, 2008 / E. Rutherford, NJ / Giants Stadium | Notes: Just one week after wrapping up their two-month European tour, Bruce and the E Street Band are back in the U.S.A. and kicking off a homecoming stand in New Jersey. This first of three shows at Giants Stadium (and first U.S. outdoor show of the tour) found them picking up right where they left off a week ago, with a loosey-goosey setlist, signs collected and requests granted, diminished emphasis on Magic material but a considerably longer set than last time they were on these shores. They played 30 songs on this opening night, shooting well past the three-hour mark. The show opened appropriately with the retelling of the Legend of the E Street Band, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out." Lots of dedications, including "Janey, Don't You Lose Heart" for "my friend Jane," and "Growin' Up" for a ten-year-old sign-holder named Rosie. "This song was written a quarter-century before you were born," Bruce told Rosie, "It must be good -- your daddy was a wink in his mama's eye!" And later in the song, he added, "There you were: a little egg inside a little egg inside a little egg...." "Mary's Place" was "for my friend Wayne Myers, who has taught me so much about how to get there," Bruce said, "Thank you, Dr. Wayne!" Complete with knee-slide and an extended preacher rap (including Clarence in Ed McMahon mode, echoing Springsteen's offered wisdom), "Mary's Place" stretched out to 14 minutes, and that's even without band introductions. After rejoining the band for the four shows in Spain, Patti Scialfa was with us again tonight, bringing out "Brilliant Disguise" and "Tunnel of Love." Her husband gave her a quick peck after "Brilliant Disguise," explaining, "I didn't want to mess up that makeup." To open the encore, Bruce decided to send one out to "one special Jersey girl," which had some eagerly anticipating a certain Tom Waits cover... but just for a sec, before he went into, of course, "Girls in Their Summer Clothes." After "American Land," and after making like he was done for the night, Bruce came back to the mic and told the crowd, "You ain't got it." He continued egging the crowd on -- "You ain't got it. I still got it... you ain't got it" -- before finally finding them up to the challenge: "Oh yeah? Let's get it on!" No twisting and shouting tonight, that's been left in Europe for the time being -- instead, "Rosalita" came out to jump. "A true fairy tale to open the show," Bruce declared, "and a true fairy tale to close the show."
9: Setlist: Tenth Avenue Freeeze-out Radio Nowhere Lonesome Day No Surrender Adam Raised a Cain Spirit in the Night Summertime Blues Brilliant Disguise Atlantic City Growin' Up Janey, Don't You Lose Heart I'll Work for Your Love Youngstown Murder Incorporated The Promised Land Livin' in the Future Mary's Place Working on the Highway Tunnel of Love The Rising Last to Die Long Walk Home Badlands * * * Girls in Their Summer Clothes Jungleland Born to Run Bobby Jean Dancing in the Dark American Land Rosalita
10: July 31, 2008 / E. Rutherford, NJ / Giants Stadium | Notes: Wow -- when's the last time a U.S. show went past midnight, let alone until 12:45? Granted, the final Jersey show didn't start until 9:30, thanks to a highway (specifically, the New Jersey turnpike, exit 16W) jammed up with a broken tanker truck. They delayed showtime to accomodate the horrendous traffic, finally playing to what appeared to be a fuil house (though some fans were still arriving as late as "Livin' in the Future)." In any case, kudos to Bruce and the band for delivering a thrilling, three-and-a-quarter-hour show, back up to 30 songs again, going above and beyond in terms of length and energy despite the late start -- and despite the heat! Giants Stadium was an oven last night, hot and humid, leading to what Bruce called a "Jersey baptism" in "Mary's Place," as he sponged water onto the crowd "in the name of the father, the son, and Elvis!" Appropriately enough, for both the heat and the traffic, Bruce began the show with "Summertime Blues." That one had been the sign-collection song at the previous two Giants shows; now "Light of Day" filled that slot, with Bruce gathering requests as Max pounded out an extended intro. The signs brought some classic early material to the set, but first Bruce had his own idea: an impromptu "Pretty Flamingo," last played in this very venue on the Rising tour five years ago (and only its third performance sinde 1978). As Springsteen strummed the chords, refreshing himself and the band, he told the crowd that it was "just Patti's birthday a few days ago," and began ruminating on their history together. "I first met her when I was 20 and she was 17," he said. And then again when he was 24 and she was 21... and again when he was 35. "In the meantime," he said, "something happened to me." As he went on to talk about Clarence's upcoming wedding (just a week away!), it was clear that he meant he had gotten hitched, saying that both the Big Man and himself had been married before. "But Clarence more than me!" He added, "Clarence is getting it right this time," before summing it all up: "So I don't really believe in love at first sight." Taking the band through the Manfred Mann song, it was a magical performance all the more impressive for the fact that it was obviously unrehearsed. "Bridge!" Bruce called out, to make sure they all stayed together. Back to those signs: "Incident" was just about to get a play, thanks to a sign requesting it "for your old, bald fans" -- "seems to be particular!" Bruce laughed -- when another sign caught his eye. "Give that one to me," he said, pointing to a placard for "Blinded By the Light." "We'll do that one now, and we'll do the other one next." (And hey, that makes for two Manfred Mann hits in the same show!) After "Blinded," though, Springsteen opted to keep the tempo quick, going into a powerhouse pack of "Cadillac Ranch," "Candy's Room," Night," and "Because the Night" -- the last of these featuring another somersaulting solo from Nils. While that forward roll may have been less of a surprise this time, Nils having done the trick before, it was no less shocking -- how the hell does he do that and keep on playing? And after the drawn-out "Mary's Place," Bruce finally made good on his earlier promise, as the strains of "Incident" filled the stadium -- "for you old, bald fans." A high-energy encore opened with "Jungleland," Clarence shining on the solo; Steve hammed it up good on "Dancing in the Dark" as he and Bruce struck a tango pose. Steve, it should be said, has been really into it on this stand, looking like he's having a blast (and ever-considerate, handing out bottles of water to overheated fans, too). For "American Land," the E Streeters were joined by three Sessions Band players: Jeremy Chatzky on stand-up bass, Sam Bardfeld on fiddle, and Curtis King, sharing a vocal mic with Patti.Of course, if you thought "American Land" would be the last song on this night, you haven't been paying attention. Two more songs, though? Well, that's a closing night special. First up was the long-awaited "Jersey Girl" (you knew it had to come out here, right?) played for a fancy two-part sign and dedicated to Bruce's mom. "She's here tonight," he said, "she's working the concession stand." The full-band rendition of the Tom Waits classic is always a special moment, and here it was like reliving the version from the Live/1975-'85 box set, with cheers from the crowd coming at the same places as on the '81 recording. And finally, Bruce and the band closed out their homecoming stand with "Rosalita," one Quever more "fairytale" to send fans home happy, well after coaches had turned into pumpkins.
11: Setlist: Summertime Blues Tenth Avenue Freeze-out Radio Nowhere Prove It All Night Two Hearts The Promised Land Spirit in the Night Light of Day Brilliant Disguise Pretty Flamingo Blinded by the Light Cadillac Ranch Candy's Room Night Because the Night She's the One Livin' in the Future Mary's Place Incident on 57th Street The Rising Last to Die Long Walk Home Badlands * * * Jungleland Born to Run Bobby Jean Dancing in the Dark American Land Jersey Girl Rosalita
12: August 2, 2008 / Foxboro, MA / Gillette Stadium | Notes: Another U.S. concert goes into the midnight hour, with the Gillette Stadium show not starting until 9:20, again with "Summertime Blues." Weather, not traffic, was the culprit this time, with a massive thunderstorm drenching the surroundings -- Bruce told the crowd, "We were dodging lightning bolts coming up here for about an hour and a half!" But after delaying the start until one last downpour was through, there was no rain for the entirety of the show (unless you count water running off the stage roof into the pit). And as Bruce said after "Spirit," "I think a little rain agrees with you guys." It was a shorter show compared to the three nights in Jersey, not quite cracking the three-hour mark, and judging by the cross-offs on the handwritten setlist (including an unplayed "Racing in the Street" after "Mary's Place"), it seemed Bruce had to put some effort into how to trim the show a bit. But they still blew way past Gillette's 11:00 curfew, rocking "Rosalita" until ten past 12. In between, it was another party show -- all release, little tension -- with even more granted requests than usual bringing a pair of tour-debut covers and more rarities to set this night apart. The biggest mind-blower came after "Tunnel of Love," as Springsteen gathered a heap of signs and complimented their "professionalism." One in particular made him chuckle: "The band will not be ready for this one... oh, they will not be ready!" It was "Little Latin Lupe Lu," a song they've only done a couple of times since the '70s -- and as opposed to some sign requests that probably would get played anyway, there's no way Bruce would have called this one up otherwise. But it seemed the band was ready after all, the song sounded great -- and the professionalism of the sign sure didn't hurt Bruce's performance. As he pointed out, the sign had the "Lupe Lu" lyrics printed on the back (in a Bruce handwriting font, no less) with "Key of F" written at the top. "That's appreciated!" he laughed, and he wasn't kidding -- he made sure to have the words where he could see. The requests kept coming, as "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street" (its second tour performance) and "Hungry Heart" followed, and then it was another cover special for the occasion. Not "Dirty Water" -- though there was plenty of that on the ground -- but another one almost as foreseeable: "Who'll Stop the Rain." Bruce played this one for Bill Belichick: "This is for the coach. He's out there tonight. He didn't bring a sign, though!" Unusually, Bruce gathered more signs as the encore began, and kicked it off with another fan choice: "We have here the rarely played and even more rarely requested..." and he turned the sign around to reveal "I'm Goin' Down." That was another second tour performance, going into "Jungleland," by request for a birthday in the crowd. Thinking of nearby Boston, Bruce asked before "American Land," "Do we have any Irishmen out there?" The tepid response must have reminded him that this wasn't Boston, though, as at the end of the song he hollered, "Boston! Massachussets! Rhode Island! Connecticut! Wherever the fuck we are! You've just seen..." And on this night, it might have been a little late, but you could add rain-stoppin' E Street Band to the list.
13: Setlist: Summertime Blues Tenth Avenue Freeze-out Radio Nowhere Lonesome Day The Promised Land Spirit in the Night Tunnel of Love Little Latin Lupe Lu Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street? Hungry Heart Who'll Stop the Rain Youngstown Murder Incorporated She's the One Livin' in the Future Mary's Place The Rising Last to Die Long Walk Home Badlands * * * I'm Goin' Down Jungleland Born to Run Glory Days Dancing in the Dark American Land Rosalita
14: April 21, 2009 / Boston, MA / TD Banknorth Garden | Notes: From the West coast last week now back to the East, Bruce and the E Street Band are bad, they're nationwide. And that was the clear highlight for this first night in Boston, a cover of ZZ Top's "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide" — which Bruce seemed to think was an E Street Band premiere: "They don't know this one." Somewhat legendarily among aficianados, though, this one celebrated/poked fun at newfound superstar status in Philly on the Born in the U.S.A. tour, on 9/15/84. But okay, just once, 25 years ago... we'll let it slide. And his memory wasn't all hazy: "I think I used to play this in the bars." A well-made sign for the song included lyrics and chord changes, but it was still a challenge to rise to. Bruce: "Can they do it? Fuck yeah, they're the E Street Band!" And they did, it kicked ass, with a postscript: "Don't try to stump the E Street Band!" Otherwise, a setlist very similar to night one in L.A. Also played by request were the directionally contradictory "I'm Goin' Down" and "Growin' Up." The sign for the latter included an addendum: "...and a story to tell." But no such luck. It was the guitar that talked tonight, Bruce playing searing leads on "Adam Raised a Cain," "Seeds," and "The Ghost of Tom Joad"—Nils smoked on that one, too. And speaking of smoke: the Superbowl LCD screens were gone, with some new smoke-machine action providing a different effect in their place. Patti was again absent, not "home with the kids" as with last week's L.A. shows, but this time because of an accident: she "took a spill" while horse riding on Saturday, Bruce told the crowd. "She wasn't riding with Madonna—it wasn't a Madonna-like spill," he joked, but the spill itself sounds like no fun at all. Springsteen described multiple contusions and bruised ribs, "and whiplash, from me driving her to the hospital." He said she'd be back after a few shows, and in the meantime, "she asked me to play this for you," going into "Kingdom of Days." Jay Weinberg was behind the kit for the final four songs of the main set, "Radio Nowhere" through "Born to Run." And more offspring were in the house as "Hard Times" was sent out "to my handsome son Evan and my lovely daughter Jessie." Patti, hope you're feeling better soon.
15: Setlist: Badlands Adam Raised a Cain Outlaw Pete Out in the Street Working on a Dream Seeds Johnny 99 The Ghost of Tom Joad Raise Your Hand I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide I'm Goin' Down Growin' Up Waitin' on a Sunny Day The Promised Land The Wrestler Kingdom of Days Radio Nowhere (w/ Jay Weinberg) Lonesome Day (w/ Jay Weinberg) The Rising (w/ Jay Weinberg) Born to Run (w/ Jay Weinberg) * * * Hard Times Tenth Avenue Freeze-out Land of Hope and Dreams American Land Rosalita
16: April 22, 2009 / Boston, MA / TD Banknorth Garden | Notes: A wild night for the second of two in Boston, as Bruce continues to smash his head on the punk rock. On the West coast it was Social D; here in Boston it was the Ramones and local heroes the Dropkick Murphys. The first request song of the night had the the E Street band tackling "I Wanna Be..." ...Where the Bands Are? ...With You? Nope -- try "I Wanna Be Sedated," a first, with Bruce telling the crowd, "Someone's trying to stump the E Street Band!" But Little Steven was having none of it. The band might have made their way through it without him, but with Steve on board? Steve, who has called the Ramones "coolest band since the '60s"? Who has described his Underground Garage aesthetic as "groups that inspired the Ramones, groups inspired by the Ramones, and the Ramones"? Fuggedaboutit. He looked positively gleeful as he conferred with Bruce and Nils beforehand, to make sure they all got it right. The crowd ate it up, with Bruce encouraging participation but hardly needing to. While the Ramones were represented in cover form, some Dropkick Murphys were there in the flesh. For anyone expecting Peter Wolf, the torch has been passed to a new generation of Bostonians. A unique start to their guest spot had guitarist Tim Brennan onstage, down on bended knee, proposing to his girlfriend Diane. She said yes -- credit Nils with getting her answer on mic -- and Springsteen told the crowd, "This is gonna be their wedding song." The tour premiere of "So Young and in Love," not a bad engagement gift! Congratulations, lovebirds. Afterward, Bruce called out, "We've got some more Dropkick Murphys, come on!" Tim was joined by two of his bandmates for a brillant match of guest and song, amping up the Celtic punk in "American Land." And the crowd goes wild. A great performance all around, energy and fun quotients high. There was also the Greetings double-shot of "Spirit in the Night" into "For You," both by request—the latter actually by popular demand: four signs, which Bruce revealed one at a time. "Jungleland," nailed by both Bruce and Clarence. (That one replaced "The Wrestler," as this tour's namesake album takes yet another hit. And then there were three!) "Hard Times" went out once again to Evan and Jessie; Patti's still recuperating. Jay Weinberg drummed on the final four songs of the main set, as well as on "American Land" and "Glory Days" in the encore while his dad manned the tambourine. And an additional post-"A.L." bonus followed "Glory Days," bringing the song count to 27. It was the first "Seven Nights to Rock" since "guinea pig" night in Asbury Park, clearly a reward for a fantastic Boston crowd. "You guys never disappoint. You still stoke the fire in our belly when we get here." Now how about the Clash next?
17: Setlist: Badlands Candy's Room Outlaw Pete She's the One Working on a Dream Seeds Johnny 99 Youngstown Raise Your Hand I Wanna Be Sedated Spirit in the Night For You Waitin' on a Sunny Day The Promised Land Jungleland Kingdom of Days Radio Nowhere (w/ Jay Weinberg) Lonesome Day (w/ Jay Weinberg) The Rising (w/ Jay Weinberg) Born to Run (w/ Jay Weinberg) * * * Hard Times Thunder Road Land of Hope and Dreams So Young and in Love (w/ Dropkick Murphys' Tim Brennan) American Land (w/ Dropkick Murphys, Jay Weinberg) Glory Days (w/ Dropkick Murphys, Jay Weinberg) Seven Nights to Rock
18: April 24, 2009 / Hartford, CT / XL Center | Notes: Hartford fans have been treated to some special night over the past decade, from peak performances on the reunion tour to an exceptional Devils & Dust show and opening two different legs of the Magic tour. This night was no exception—sandwiched between high-expectation, two-night stands in Boston and Philly, but no letup from Bruce and the band, on a mission to show they're at the top their game. Jay Weinberg came out early this time, "Radio Nowhere" moved to the post-"Working on a Dream" slot to give him a famiiar warm-up, and then his first public stab at the recession arc of "Seeds," "Johnny 99," and "Joad." And of course he kicked ass. Max was back for the request portion, again a high point of the show, with the Unstoppable, Unstumpable E Street Band tackling three covers in a row: "Raise Your Hand" followed by "Wild Thing," an E Street first, and John Fogerty's "Rocking All Over the World." Max was all over the Troggs tune, which was, yes, wild... and Bruce was spot-on with the vocals, milking the pauses for all they were worth. The Fogerty classic is familiar from tours past, but quite a surprise to get it here in the main set. And the requests weren't done yet, with Bruce leading the band through a groovy, bluesy, guitar-oriented "E Street Shuffle" to cap it off. A brilliant stretch. Following that, "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" and "The Promised Land" still proved to be a drag on the show. But not much dragged down the Hartford crowd. The tour premiere of "Jackson Cage" in slot three, a welcome deep reach into The River, didn't do much for the room in general, but for everything after that the Hartford crowd was on its feet, really into it through the end. "Cadillac Ranch" was one reward, following "Born to Run" to close the main set, with a hilarious guitar dance at the edge of the stage, Bruce, Steve and Nils working to get in sync. In the encore, "Land of Hope and Dreams" retains its power, with an excellent drum solo from Max, and a goofy, raucous "Rosie" closed it all out, Bruce mugging for the camera, planting kisses on Steve's mug, doing the Three Stooges face rub, the whole deal.
19: Setlist: Badlands Outlaw Pete Jackson Cage She's the One Working on a Dream Radio Nowhere (w/ Jay Weinberg) Seeds (w/ Jay Weinberg) Johnny 99 (w/ Jay Weinberg) The Ghost of Tom Joad (w/ Jay Weinberg) Raise Your Hand Wild Thing Rocking All Over the World The E Street Shuffle Waitin' on a Sunny Day The Promised Land The Wrestler Kingdom of Days Lonesome Day The Rising Born to Run Cadillac Ranch * * * Hard Times Tenth Avenue Freeze-out Land of Hope and Dreams American Land Rosalita
20: May 14, 2009 / Times Union Center / Albany, NY | Notes: "This is a big, big night," said Bruce toward the end of the Albany show. "For the first time in 35 years, someone else has sat at the drums: Max's son. We got a new blood brother there." After working up to it over the past couple months, Jay got his first complete show under his belt, start to finish. Lots of power on display, particularly strong on "No Surrender." Described in the band intros as "the unbelievable, the prodigy...," Jay proved it all night. It's probably no coincidence that the setlist brought few stretches. A two-song sign set consisted of "Thunder Road" followed by "Mony Mony," the latter reprised from Chicago, and the crowd again ate it up. (The reverse of the "Mony Mony" sign got some hopes up, calling for "Like a Rolling Stone"—no such luck, not yet.) "Backstreets" followed "The Promised Land" as another request, and in the encore, Jay was put to the test as a kittycat sign called for the return of you-know-who. And "Kitty's Back" was hot. Patti's still absent, though that didn't stop someone from holding up a sign for "Each Other's Medicine." And the Nils fretcam was again in effect on "The Ghost of Tom Joad," a spellbinding display that one fan called "the best thing about the show."
21: Setlist: Badlands (w/ Jay Weinberg, through the end) Radio Nowhere Outlaw Pete No Surrender Out in the Street Working on a Dream Seeds Johnny 99 The Ghost of Tom Joad Raise Your Hand Thunder Road Mony Mony Waitin' on a Sunny Day The Promised Land Backstreets Kingdom of Days Lonesome Day The Rising Born to Run * * * Hard Times Kitty's Back Land of Hope and Dreams American Land Glory Days
22: May 23, 2009 / Izod Center / East Rutherford, NJ | Notes: "Good evening, neighbors!" said Bruce at this second of two Meadowlands arena concerts, "I'm so glad to be in the swamps of Jersey tonight—I'm so glad to be home!" (Despite the close proximity to home, Patti had to miss this one; "I have a young daughter who's on tour also," Bruce said for his "Kingdom of Days" dedication to the missus, "so Patti's with her tonight.") Tonight was not only a homecoming show, it marked the end of the tour's first leg—two months to the day after the first rehearsal show in Asbury Park— and it closed things out with a bang, a serious contender for the best of the leg. An electric performance, with ten different songs from Thursday night and a focus on material from the early days—including no less than three from The Wild, the Innocent, & the E Street Shuffle. "Spirit in the Night" came out early, but the first real shocker was "Something in the Night"—an audible, no less—in slot four. Sort of a strange transition from there into "Out in the Street," but let's not nitpick, "Something" was just a classic performance, passionately delivered. As for covers, "Good Lovin'" subbed back in for "Raise Your Hand" as the sign collection song, but Bruce again steered the requests themselves straight down E Street. "E Street Shuffle" was Wild & Innocent cut number one. "Cover Me," a perfect fit with themes Bruce has been bringing to the fore in the past couple months, finally got its tour premiere, and "Thunder Road" closed out the requests. Following "Promised Land," it was W&I number 2, another tour premiere: "Incident on 57th Street." Just a stunner. It started a little fast, but led to outstanding intrumental work at the end, Bruce's guitar solo outro and Roy's piano coda lighting the place up. Several showgoers remarked that, at a certain point during the show, the whole thing just went into the stratosphere for the second half—every band member on it, the current flowing. You might pinpoint that moment right here. By the encore, that current was flowing through the entire crowd, too—everyone up for "Born to Run," all hands in the air for "Land of Hope and Dreams." W&I number three was an incredible "Kitty's Back," the best in recent memory, with spotlight again on Bruce and Roy, each with extended solos. Tonight really seemed to be about going the extra mile—look to "Johnny 99" as well, which was extended as Bruce and Steve took their time milking the crowd. Bruce thanked "all our friends and neighbors for their longtime support of the E Street Band," and during the intros we got a "Max is back!" holler, the elder Weinberg having played the whole show, and Clarence got a "Theme from Shaft" vamp from the band. The legendary E Street Band? "That's fucking right!" But of course, there was no way this sucker was ending with "American Land" tonight. "Are you trying to test me?" Springsteen asked the roaring crowd. "The turnpike is closed—nobody goes home!" And from there into a one-two punch, "Glory Days" and a "Mony Mony" that had the whole place going nuts. And just before calling it a night, Bruce again mentioned the wrecking ball coming for Giants Stadium—but not before the E Street Band takes a few more whacks at it. "We'll see you in the fall!"
23: Setlist: Badlands Spirit in the Night Outlaw Pete Something in the Night Out in the Street Working on a Dream Seeds Johnny 99 The Ghost of Tom Joad Good Lovin' E Street Shuffle Cover Me Thunder Road Waitin' on a Sunny Day The Promised Land Incident on 57th Street Kingdom of Days Lonesome Day The Rising Born to Run * * * Hard Times Kitty's Back Land of Hope and Dreams American Land Glory Days Mony Mony
24: August 25, 2009 / Saratoga Performing Arts Center / Saratoga, NY | Notes: A fun night to wrap up this first batch of shows before a three-week break—maybe not the high points of Hartford or Mansfield 1, but an energetic Bruce in a playful mood always goes a long way. No tour premieres, but some nice you-don't-get-that-every-night selections, like "Rendezvous," "Atlantic City," "Darkness on the Edge of Town," and "Racing in the Street." "Summertime Blues" kicked off the request section, followed by "Two Hearts" picked from a spin-the-wheel sign (with options including "Bruce's Choice" and "Big Man's Choice). Real nice vocals on that one from Bruce and Steve. "Surprise Surprise" followed, and while this song has its detractors, surprise surprise, it was well-played and quite a good time. "Because the Night" had an unusual moment, when Springsteen himself took the guitar solo. Nils started off his patented riffage, but after playing on his back (!), there was a sound malfunction that led him to pass it off to Bruce, who took it from there. Things were sloppy here and there, a trade-off for the fun, loose vibe: Clarence missed a couple cues, including his "Badlands" solo; Bruce had to count off "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" again after an instrumental trainwreck. "Rosalita" also had Bruce stopping the band to count them back in again—Jay still shaking the rust off tonight, it seemed, for his first full show in a while. But Bruce made sure to sing his praises: "He really saved our ass this summer... you're not supposed to be able to do that at 19 years old!" The encore was back down to a more standard six songs, giving a few gals the chance to dance on "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" and "Dancing in the Dark." Closing with "Hungry Heart," Bruce said, "We're gonna send you home with one more summer song!" And indeed, it'll be mid-September next time he and the E Streeters take the stage.
25: Setlist: No Surrender [with Jay Weinberg from here on] Badlands Radio Nowhere Outlaw Pete Spirit in the Night Working on a Dream Rendezvous Atlantic City Johnny 99 Darkness on the Edge of Town Raise Your Hand (instrumental) Summertime Blues Two Hearts Surprise Surprise Because the Night Waitin' on a Sunny Day The Promised Land Racing in the Street Lonesome Day The Rising Born to Run Rosalita * * * Girls in Their Summer Clothes Thunder Road American Land Bobby Jean Dancing in the Dark Hungry Heart
26: September 30, 2009 / Giants Stadium / E. Rutherford, NJ | Notes: "Evenin', New Jersey! Nice to be in my back yard!" Springsteen hollered out to the crowd on opening night, going on to reference the fact that this five-night E Street stand will be the stadium's final concerts. "Join us tonight to shut the old lady down! We've had a lot of great nights here, let's make this another one." And then some magic words: "This is something I wrote for tonight..." Yes, Bruce opened with a brand new song, the first new one of the tour, written just for the occasion: I was raised out of steel here in the swamps of Jersey, some misty years ago / Through the blood and the beer, and the mud and the cheers, I've seen champions come and go..." Springsteen began "Wrecking Ball" solo, just strumming a telecaster, but the mighty power of the E Street Band soon kicked in, even adding a trumpet solo from Curt Ramm. "Bring on your wrecking ball," Bruce spat in the chorus, "Take your best shot, see what you've got... Bring on your wrecking ball." From there into "Seeds" Bruce rearranging the set as in Chicago, moving the recession arc to the beginning and the requests to the encore, to fit the Born to Run album sequence mid-set. "I was trying to think of something to make our last stand here at Giants Stadium special," he said beforehand. "Friday night, we're gonna play Darkness top to finish, and Saturday we're gonna play Born in the U.S.A. top to finish. But tonight..." his voice drifted off as the opening strains of "Thunder Road" began. Ramm was back on trumpet for "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" and "Meeting Across the River," Garry on electric bass this time for the latter. At the end of the album sequence, Bruce brought the original E Streeters down front for an extra hand—Garry, Clarence, Max, Roy, and Steve, too. "These are the guys who made the music... and Phantom Dan Federici." They basked in the glow of the crowd for a moment before Bruce barked, "Back to work!" "Into the Fire" was a nice highlght of the back part of the set. Moving into the encore without leaving the stage—"It's too cold to stop now!"—Bruce began collecting signs to "Raise Your Hand." Performing the full song, Bruce again added lines from "You Sexy Thing." Ramm returned for the first song request, "The E Street Shuffle." "It's a dance with no dance step," Bruce explained. "It's just a dance that you do every day to get through the bullshit. And every night." Another oldie followed by request, a perfectly apropos "Growin' Up" for the first show following Bruce's 60th birthday. He even went into a lengthy story for the occasion. "Clarence... I had one of the weirdest dreams I ever had a few nights ago... It was one of those dreams where you wake up and you say, 'Oh, fuck!'" In his dream, Bruce was surrounded by relatives, by a lot of people—"and I don't like a lot of people!... The lights went out, and there was this cake. This is the part you won't believe: there were 60 fucking candles on that cake!" Maybe this wasn't a dream after all. The Giants Stadium crowd began singing "Happy Birthday" and Bruce added, "And there were thousands of people reminding me of something I was trying to forget!" Finally, Bruce went back to sleep and took month-long vacations in the stratosphere... Willie Nile joined in for "American Land" and "Dancing in the Dark" and stayed out for "Hard Times" as well. "Willie, grab a guitar—there's only three chords, that's all we play, how hard can it be?" Fireworks hailed over Giants Stadium after the band intros, punctuating the E! Street! Band! Bruce declared, "That's right, we splurged for the fireworks!" Finally, they wrapped it all up with "Rosie": "We're sending this out to Patti, she's gonna be here Friday night. Patti, wherever you are, come out tonight!" The lengthiest show of the tour yet, this one clocked in at 3:15.
27: Setlist: Wrecking Ball (with Curt Ramm) Seeds Johnny 99 Atlantic City Outlaw Pete Hungry Heart Working on a Dream Thunder Road Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (with Curt Ramm) Night Backstreets Born to Run She's the One Meeting Across the River (with Curt Ramm) Jungleland Waitin' on a Sunny Day The Promised Land Into the Fire Lonesome Day The Rising Badlands No Surrender * * * Raise Your Hand E Street Shuffle (with Curt Ramm) Growin' Up American Land (with Willie Nile) Dancing in the Dark (with Willie Nile) Hard Times (with Willie Nile) Rosalita | Setlist: Wrecking Ball (with Curt Ramm) Seeds Johnny 99 Atlantic City Outlaw Pete Hungry Heart Working on a Dream Thunder Road Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (with Curt Ramm) Night Backstreets Born to Run She's the One Meeting Across the River (with Curt Ramm) Jungleland Waitin' on a Sunny Day The Promised Land Into the Fire Lonesome Day The Rising Badlands No Surrender * * * Raise Your Hand E Street Shuffle (with Curt Ramm) Growin' Up American Land (with Willie Nile) Dancing in the Dark (with Willie Nile) Hard Times (with Willie Nile) Rosalita
28: October 2, 2009 / Giants Stadium / E. Rutherford, NJ | Notes: Night two at Giants Stadium proved to be an entirely different animal from its Wednesday night predecessor, featuring Bruce and the band powering through a balanced set that, at times, was both loose and intense. Tonight was all about Darkness on the Edge of Town, which was performed for only the second time ever in full album sequence, and for the first time since a May 2008 benefit show at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank. Darkness was the evening's highlight and emotional centerpiece. While show staples such as "Badlands," "The Promised Land," and "Prove it all Night" received a new vitality when played in the original album context — "Prove It" including an incredible, searing solo by Nils Lofgren — the true highlight of the Darkness sequence was Springsteen's delivery of album cuts, "Adam Raised a Cain," "Something in the Night," and "Streets of Fire." Springsteen played these oft-overlooked tracks with a renewed vigor and almost draining emotion. His vocals and lead guitar carried the intensity of these songs, almost appearing at times that the Boss had pushed himself to the point of exhaustion. Maintaining the passion and intensity of an album like Darkness in the spacious Giants Stadium was no easy task, but it was evident from the start that Bruce and the Band realized their challenge, and they rose to the occasion. Given the emotional intensity behind Darkness, it seemed as if Bruce wanted to let loose and have some fun with the remainder of the set. Missing was the recession suite of "Seeds" and "Johnny 99," and in the encore, he dropped "Hard Times" and a setlisted "Kitty's Back" for the fun and frivolity of "Cadillac Ranch," "Dancing in the Dark," and "Rosalita." For requests, Bruce and the Band picked out "I'm Goin' Down," "Be True," and the tour premiere of a Leiber/Stoller classic. While Bruce may have needed a few seconds to figure out the key to "Jailhouse Rock," the song simply rocked live and sent the crowd into a frenzy, dancing along with its swingin’ beat. Audibled immediately after "Jailhouse" was "Long Walk Home," getting a long overdue reprise in the set since its lone appearance in the March rehearsal shows in Asbury Park. Special guests tonight included the Sessions Band’s Eddie Manion, Art Baron, Larry Eagle, and Curt Ramm (who also played trumpet on "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" and the show-opening "Wrecking Ball").
29: Setlist: Wrecking Ball (with Curt Ramm) Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (with Curt Ramm) No Surrender Outlaw Pete Hungry Heart Working on a Dream Badlands Adam Raised a Cain Something in the Night Candy's Room Racing in the Street The Promised Land Factory Streets of Fire Prove It All Night Darkness on the Edge of Town Waitin' on a Sunny Day Raise Your Hand (instrumental) I'm Goin' Down Be True Jailhouse Rock Thunder Road Long Walk Home The Rising Born to Run (with Jay Weinberg) * * * Cadillac Ranch Bobby Jean American Land Dancing in the Dark Rosalita
30: October 3, 2009 / Giants Stadium / E. Rutherford, NJ | Notes: There's no denying Springsteen's sense of timing. By deciding to perform in full (and for the first time ever) the same album that gave him the star power and mass appeal that first allowed him to play Giants Stadium back in August of 1985, Springsteen was bringing it all back to where it started in his relationship with Giants Stadium — and those fans who were first introduced to him 25 years ago through Born in the U.S.A. and its seven Top 10 singles. Even before the Born in the U.S.A. sequence began, Springsteen was reveling in the communal stadium experience, going for full-on crowd surfing in "Hungry Heart." In an impressive feat from both the Boss and the crowd, he one-upped his usual entry into the pit by allowing himself to be fully carried aloft back to the stage. Not bad for an appetizer. Then, after "Working on a Dream," came the main course. For any fan who wore out his or her cassette of Born in the U.S.A., tonight was a dream realized. Sure, there may not have been any rare album cuts that were to be unearthed in the live setting; many of the 12 songs on the album have been staples of Springsteen's sets since the beginning of this tour, and all of them have been played along the way. Nor did the performance, aside from the song sequence, feature any special nuances or subtle changes as compared to other shows on the tour. But that didn't matter. Unlike last night's Darkness show, where the music demanded a certainly level of intensity from the band and the fans, tonight gave Springsteen and the band a chance to revisit a collection of anthems tailor-made for a football stadium. Tonight was an opportunity to see how far we've all come since 1985 and give everyone, singer and fan, a chance to revisit the glory days, raise their hands in the air and sing along. "I’m on Fire" was enhanced by its performance after "Downbound Train," and the lost friendship in "Bobby Jean" seemed more vital when played after the message of "No Surrender." Perhaps in a decision to illustrate how far we've really come since 1985, "Last to Die" received its Working on a Dream tour premiere following "The Promised Land" and prior to "Long Walk Home" and "The Rising," for a powerful combination reminiscent of the "five-pack" that closed the main set during 2007 and 2008 on the Magic tour But the singing and dancing (and camera flashing) didn't stop after the last chords of "My Hometown," as Springsteen soon powered through a request-based encore stretch of "Jersey Girl," "Kitty’s Back," and "Detroit Medley." Once again, Springsteen's sense of the occasion — I mean, c’mon, we're talking Giants Stadium on a Saturday night — made "Jersey Girl" a perfect selection. And "Kitty" showcased the band in fine form, including another night of consistent and outstanding contributions — not to mention some literature hawking on the side — from the Big Man. To close out the show, "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" seemed a little out of place after a rollicking "American Land," but Springsteen and the band finished on a high note with a beautiful "Thunder Road" to cap off the first week of their stand in the Meadowlands.
31: Setlist: Wrecking Ball (with Curt Ramm) Out in the Street Outlaw Pete Hungry Heart Working on a Dream Born in the U.S.A. Cover Me Darlington County Working on the Highway Downbound Train I'm on Fire No Surrender Bobby Jean I'm Goin' Down Glory Days Dancing in the Dark My Hometown The Promised Land Last to Die (with Curt Ramm) Long Walk Home The Rising Born to Run * * * Raise Your Hand (instrumental) Jersey Girl Kitty's Back (with Curt Ramm) Detroit Medley American Land (with Curt Ramm, Lisa Lowell, Art Baron, & Jeremy Chatzky) Waitin' on a Sunny Day Thunder Road
32: October 8, 2009 / Giants Stadium / E. Rutherford, NJ | Notes: "Thank the Lord for this beautiful night tonight," said Bruce at the fourth of five nights under the New Jersey sky. Despite a little autumn chill in the air, it was indeed a beautiful night for this second-to-last outdoor show of the tour, and the penultimate show at Giants Stadium ever. "Wrecking Ball" opened once again, this time with the houselights all the way up. Also returning was Bruce's crowd surfing in "Hungry Heart," as impressive a feat of derring-do as last time. As for the Album of the Night, we've cycled back around to Born to Run. "This is the one that really kind of brought us here tonight," Bruce said, recalling, "I remember when I wrote it — I was trying to create this picture of one long summer day... and night." In addition to Curt Ramm on trumpet, "Tenth Avenue" was fleshed out further by Ed Manion and Clarence's nephew Jake, for the first horn section on this one since the Super Bowl. Rather than relegate the requests to the encore, as he did on Night One, Bruce gathered signs after "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" (it's a rare show that drops "The Promised Land"). A nice selection followed, including "Saint in the City," "My Love Will Not Let You Down," and "Because the Night," featuring another stellar solo from Nils. "Human Touch" was a definite high point of the night, an all-too-rare chance for the E Street Band to bring their power to one of Bruce's '92 compositions. It killed, as it did in its Greensboro premiere earlier in the year. "Human Touch" also put the spotlight on Patti Scialfa, who returned to the stage tonight after a lengthy leave of absence. Beginning the encore, Bruce expressed his appreciation for all the overseas fans who came from afar to the swamps of Jersey: "They've come a long way to see these shows... from Spain, Italy, Holland, Germany... Ho-Ho-Kus!" Taking the band into "Sandy," he said, "We're gonna send this one out to Danny," also talking about the Danny Fund and the fight against Melanoma. Following "Rosalita, which closed the first two nights of this stand, Bruce and the band reached into their bag for one more... sense of occasion fully intact, it was the stadium breaker: "Twist and Shout." Wrapping up the night at exactly the three-hour mark, Bruce hollered, "We love you! We'll be back tomorrow night with Born in the U.S.A.!"
33: Setlist: Wrecking Ball (with Curt Ramm) Out in the Street Outlaw Pete Hungry Heart Working on a Dream Thunder Road Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (with Jake Clemons, Ed Manion, Curt Ramm) Night Backstreets Born to Run She's the One Meeting Across the River (with Curt Ramm) Jungleland Waitin' on a Sunny Day Raise Your Hand (instrumental) It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City My Love Will Not Let You Down Because the Night Human Touch Lonesome Day The Rising Badlands No Surrender * * * 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) Bobby Jean American Land (with Curt Ramm) Dancing in the Dark Rosalita Twist and Shout
34: October 9, 2009 / Giants Stadium / E. Rutherford, NJ | Notes: A special welcome message on the video screen as people entered the show; extra fireworks being shot off from the top of the press box; a 31-song setlist taking up three hours, fifteen minutes: it was clear that the final concert at Giants Stadium was intended to be special. Bruce again opened with "Wrecking Ball," which he introduced as one they wrote "especially for Giants Stadium, where we have had many victories and sucked up our share of glory!" Closing night seemed to break very little new ground, however. The setlist was a near carbon copy of the previous Saturday's show, including the reprise performance of the Born in the U.S.A. album. The crowd certainly brought the noise, as exhorted by Bruce to do so, and the band’s performance was excellent, but as a whole, the show seemed to fall short of the heights that closing night in Jersey has brought in the past. The performance of the Born in the U.S.A. was noticeably tighter and more focused than in its debut album-order performance, to great effect and extensive crowd participation. When introducing the album, Bruce took note to remember that "Born in the U.S.A." was "the song we started out with the first time we entered this arena." (He also dedicated the performance to "my friend, who 55 years ago tonight, was born in the USA.") Setting things apart from the previous four nights included "Spirit in the Night" early in the set, the return of "Seven Nights to Rock" in the encore, and, with Patti back on stage, only the second "Tougher than the Rest" on this tour. Curt Ramm added his trumpet to "Tougher" as well. Show highlights included Bruce again taking a "wild ride" through the crowd during "Hungry Heart" and, in the encore, via a sign complete with tongue-logo and suggested key (E), a "perfect request:" The Rolling Stones' "The Last Time," last played by the E Street Band at the final night of the Darkness tour. An extended "Kitty's Back" in the encore included intense solos from Curt on trumpet and Roy on piano. As the show headed towards its end, Bruce skipped the setlisted "Thunder Road" and instead opted for "Jersey Girl," complete with lyric change to "take that one last ride / 'cross the river to the Jersey side." As the song ended, the crowd appeared to be in no rush to leave, perhaps expecting one final uptempo song to send off the stadium. Alas, it was not to be, as Bruce added a "Goodbye Giants Stadium!" to his traditional "We'll be seein' ya!" as the night ended.
35: Setlist: Wrecking Ball (with Curt Ramm) Badlands Spirit in the Night Outlaw Pete Hungry Heart Working on a Dream Born in the U.S.A. Cover Me Darlington County Working on the Highway Downbound Train I'm on Fire No Surrender Bobby Jean I'm Goin' Down Glory Days Dancing in the Dark My Hometown Tougher Than the Rest (with Curt Ramm) The Promised Land Last to Die (with Curt Ramm) Long Walk Home The Rising Born to Run (with Jay Weinberg) * * * Raise Your Hand The Last Time Waitin' on a Sunny Day Seven Nights to Rock Kitty's Back (with Curt Ramm) American Land (with Curt Ramm) Jersey Girl
36: November 7, 2009 / Madison Square Garden / New York, NY | Notes: Noting that there were only eight shows left on the tour, Bruce paused before the sixth song of his set on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden to say that he and the band appreciated the support of their fans over the past few years and that they wanted to do something that was a "nice treat for the fans and for us." So began the first-ever top-to-bottom performance of The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. Bruce shushed the audience, tapped a baton against his microphone stand and turned to face the horn section (set up on the back riser behind the piano) to conduct them as "The E Street Shuffle" kicked off an amazing seven-song performance. Bruce completely followed through on his intent to treat the audience, as he unquestionably went above and beyond to ensure a performance that did his second album proud. Richard Blackwell (who played on the original record) was on stage to add conga to "New York City Serenade." There was a full five-piece horn section for "The E Street Shuffle" and "Kitty’s Back." There was an eight-piece string section (led by the Session Band's Sam Bardfeld and conducted by Charlie Giordano) for "New York City Serenade." Bruce had even started the evening's proceedings with "Thundercrack," indicating that it was "an outtake" from the album (here's hoping for "Restless Nights," "Take 'Em as They Come," or "I Wanna Be With You" for Sunday!) Highlights from the performance of the album... well, it was an embarrassment of riches. Some of the most prominent included Bruce's fantastic guitar solo at the end of "Incident on 57th Street," finding variations of the melodic theme to end the song; Roy’s piano introduction to "New York City Serenade," with Bruce on acoustic guitar to replicate the album arrangement; various members of the band and horn section soloing on "Kitty's Back," or even the sparse "Wild Billy’s Circus Story" with Roy on accordion and Garry on tuba. The energy in the building, with an elated New York City crowd well aware of the momentousness of the occasion, was off the charts for most of the night. With the album understandably the predetermined highlight, it was difficult for Bruce to keep the entire show at that same level — how could he? But "Bus Stop," via sign request, and an intense "Human Touch," with Patti Scialfa back on stage tonight, were additional high points. And the encore wrapped up quite nicely as surprise special guest Elvis Costello joined the band for "Higher and Higher," singing lead on the first verse. Back on stage with Bruce after the taping for Spectacle six weeks earlier, Elvis brought much of the same soul-singer showmanship that Bruce does — and that the song requires — to great effect. But really, the story of this show will always be the magnificent recreation of Bruce's second record. That performance, "something that’s never been done before," will forever be in the "very special" category of the Bruce history books.
37: Setlist: Thundercrack (with Curt Ramm) Seeds Prove It All Night Hungry Heart Working on a Dream The E Street Shuffle (with Curt Ramm & horns) 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) Kitty's Back (with Curt Ramm & horns) Wil Billy's Circus Story Incident on 57th Street Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) New York City Serenade (with Richard Blackwell, the Sam Bardfeld Strings) Waitin' on a Sunny Day Raise Your Hand (with Curt Ramm) Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street? Glory Days Human Touch Lonesome Day The Rising Born to Run * * * Wrecking Ball (with Curt Ramm) Bobby Jean American Land (with Curt Ramm and Sam Bardfeld) Dancing in the Dark Higher and Higher (with Elvis Costello, Richard Blackwell, Curt Ramm & horns)
38: November 8, 2009 / Madison Square Garden / New York, NY | Notes: Context has always been important to Bruce Springsteen's music, and he reinforced that notion with a galvanizing performance of The River in its entirety for the first time on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. In a precise, exhilarating, and high-energy show, Springsteen faithfully reproduced all 20 of its songs. Most have appeared in shows on various tours since the album's 1980 release, and usually to great effect. But hearing the songs in their original order left many in the building gasping in astonishment. Springsteen introduced the 20-song cycle as a "gateway to my future writing," singling out "Stolen Car" and the title track as seed work for Tunnel of Love and Nebraska, respectively. He also mentioned the album was "made during a recession," an obvious connection to the hard times of the present. Then he lit it up, and as he made his way from "The Ties That Bind" to "Wreck on the Highway," Springsteen positively radiated with passion and energy. On the rockers, Bruce got physical: that was evident by the last verse of "Jackson Cage," where he sang with the force and conviction of a young artist trying to win over an audience with a new song. That investment extended to the fun rockers, too: "Crush on You" and "I'm a Rocker" weren't simply dusted off for the night. Rather, they were full-tilt, all-in exhibits A and B of what attracts fans to rock 'n' roll in the first instance, and to Bruce Springsteen's music in particular. Simply put, Bruce couldn't have put any more of himself into those two songs if he had tried. He prowled, vamped, sang, and played guitar as if his very life depended on it. Call it Springsteen uncorked, vintage 1980. But there's another side to the music from this album, and there Springsteen made an equally resonant connection. "I Wanna Marry You" stood out, as did Bruce, singing at the front of the stage, maracas in hand to keep time. His voice sounded sweet and soulful, his delivery balanced in sentiment and sincerity, and he ended it by taking Patti Scialfa for a slow dance. "Fade Away" was equally resplendent, but this time Bruce ended on his knees as the song faded away. "Drive All Night" was perhaps the evening's emotional high-water mark: the band found one groove after another, and Bruce asked Clarence Clemons for a second sax solo to put a stamp on the crescendo. Steve Van Zandt had a great night too. He was all over the guitar for "Crush on You" and "Cadillac Ranch," and his background vocals — as integral to the album as his role as its co-producer — sounded exactly as they should have: right behind Bruce's voice in the mix. That made for an especially strong version of "The Price You Pay" in only its second appearance since 1981. Props, too, to Charles Giordano for his stately organ playing on this song. At the outset, Springsteen said that the album would be played like this just once because "it's too long to do it again." Clocking in just shy of two hours, The River felt like a show in and of itself. Afterward, he wasn't ready to end the set, and appeared unknowing of how to end the set. So he departed markedly from his handwritten list of songs, adding a thunderous "Atlantic City," and a romping “Seven Nights to Rock.” In the encore, he treated the audience to a work-up of and then a fine, off-the-cuff "Sweet Soul Music." Another treat appeared as Bruce led the band through "Can't Help Falling in Love." Throughout, he appeared to be a bottomless well of energy. At the end he escorted his vocalists to the platform at the back of the pit to conclude "Higher and Higher." On this night, where the past met the present, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band lifted the veil, lifted themselves, their music and their audience. Bruce may be wise to let this performance stand alone, because it's one that even he probably can't replicate.
39: Setlist: Wrecking Ball (with Curt Ramm) The Ties That Bind Sherry Darling Jackson Cage Two Hearts Independence Day Hungry Heart Out in the Street Crush on You You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch) I Wanna Marry You The River Point Blank Cadillac Ranch I'm a Rocker (with Curt Ramm) Fade Away Stolen Car Ramrod The Price You Pay Drive All Night Wreck on the Highway Waitin' on a Sunny Day Atlantic City Badlands Born to Run Seven Nights to Rock * * * Sweet Soul Music (with Curt Ramm) No Surrender American Land (with Curt Ramm) Dancing in the Dark Can't Help Falling in Love Higher and Higher