Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
How on earth does he do it? On the 41-year road from a New Jersey coffee house to the now near annually consecutive 40,000 sell outs here at the RDS, Bruce Sprinsteen has seen out eight American presidents; watched a war in Vietnam end and an eerily similar second one in Iraq rumble on; he’s outlasted psychedelia, glam, punk, prog, new wave, grunge, Britpop and er... nu metal and somehow, nearing his 60th year, remained the most electric and exciting live performer on the planet. Tonight The Boss simply and typically once more owned this leafy corner of South Dublin.
And for those of us starting to wonder whether we actually could have put up with a weekend of drunken schoolchildren scoring the faces off each other in a field in Punchestown just to see Blur, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, TV On The Radio et al, we needed him to pull one out. But then again, The Boss doesn’t need to summon anything, he just does. Despite this reviewer being (shockingly) a long time listener, first time caller and the great man’s reputation far exceeding him, he, well, far exceeded it. From guitar maestro Nils Lofgren’s opening, crowd pleasing rendition of ‘The Fields of Athenry’ on accordion (although this is the home of Leinster dude) to the eleven-strong Bruce plus E-Street band’s lengthy sign off of ‘Twist & Shout’ three and a quarter hours later, the on-stage energy was relentless and the action riveting.
The only minor complaints to be heard were of tired legs and weary backs. The latter started to ache roughly at the midway request section that yielded ‘Spirit in the Night’ and ‘Sherry Darling’ while the former began feeling the pace around the late, post 9-11 combo segue of ‘Lonesome Day’ into ‘The Rising’. You can bet Bruce didn’t have trouble getting out of bed the next morning though. He may have opted against any knee slides owing to the slippery conditions - although we certainly got the better weather of the two night’s - but still put any and every other front man to shame. The man can just work a crowd. It’s one thing to know every trick in the book, but another entirely to love performing them every night of the week. Not once did that trademark Springsteen smile wither when he strode up and down the front row to make contact with virtually every face - allowing most to cop a feel of those famous old blue jeans and finding a couple of the cutest kids in Ireland to help him out on the chorus of ‘Waitin on a Sunny Day’.
Highlights? Where do you start... ‘Outlaw Pete’ was an early blinder. The utter classics - 'Born to Run', 'Badlands', 'Glory Days', 'Dancing in the Dark' - provided the as hoped ‘I was there’ moments. ‘American Skin (41 Shots)’ - a rather unexpected inclusion according to those far more au fait than us - featuring beautiful backing vocals from Nils, Clarence Clemons and Soozie Tyrell left the crowd silent in total appreciation. Actually how have we got this far without mentioning the - according to their leader - “heartbreaking, booty-shaking, Viagra-taking” E-Street Band. So damn tight, they’re simply the best in the business.
It was left to the most recognisable of the ten - well maybe second behind Big Man Clarence - Steve ’Silvio Dante’ Van Zandt to bring the house down when at just past 11 o‘ clock, he answered the Boss’ enquiry for the time, by telling him it was "curfew-busting Boss time!" An encore that already featured Jungleland, the raucous 'American Land' and 'Rosalita' was thus finished by a version of ‘Twist & Shout’ that veered briefly into ‘Louis Louis’ and ‘La Bamba’ before the curtain fell with the Boss crying “we've lost our minds!" So had we sir. See you next year.
The Fields of Athenry [Nils Lofgren solo accordion intro]
My Lucky Day
Working on a Dream
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Raise Your Hand (instrumental)
Spirit in the Night
Prove It All Night
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
American Skin (41 Shots)
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Twist and Shout