Sunday, November 8, 2009


It was great news when it was announced that Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band would be playing their 1973 classic, The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle in full at their 11/7 show at Madison Square Garden. On paper, it sounded like a great idea. And in reality, it was even better.

You've got to give the guy credit, too. To be cyincal, the idea of the "full album performance" that he's been doing on this tour (usually Born To Run or Born In The U.S.A.) was to improve sales in places where sales may not have been great. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band have toured so much in the past decade (and Bruce has also toured quite a bit without The E Street Band, both solo acoustic and with The Sessions Band). Unlike many other artists, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band do not put tickets on "sale" if sales are soft at a venue (many artists have been doing ticket markdowns, 2-for-1 deals and stuff like that). Playing one of the Born albums start to finish is a great way to stimulate sales. But this week's two Madison Square Garden shows have been sold out for months, and he didn't have to get the band rehearsing all of these songs that they haven't been playing. Plus, the tour is going to be over in two weeks! But that's how Bruce is.

The performance of The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle was amazing. He had a full horn section on some of the songs, a string section led by Sam Barfield of The (Seeger) Sessions Band, and percussionist Richard Blackwell, a session guy who played on the original album. It was amazing. Other than "Rosalita," most of these songs don't get too much play (although when I saw them in May, they did "Kitty's Back," "Incident On 57th Street" and "The E Street Shuffle"). Those songs were all great, and "The E Street Shuffle" benefited from having a full horn section. "Wild Billy's Circus Story," with Gary Tallent on tuba, was lovely, and "NYC Serenade" took the cake.

But the show came off like one long highlight, really. They opened with "Thundercrack," an outtake from The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle, then played another of my favorite non-album tracks, "Seeds" (from the Born In The U.S.A. sessions) and the classic "Prove It All Night." Other highlights included "Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?," the best version of "Human Touch" I'd ever heard (the first time I'd heard The E Street Band do it), "Lonesome Day," "The Rising," "Born To Run" (sorry, I don't get tired of it), "Bobby Jean," "American Land" and the last encore, "Higher & Higher" with Elvis Costello. I wish I was there tonight - they played The River. But man, what a show. I don't think that The E Street Band has any more huge tours in them - but here's hoping that they still do shows in New York and New Jersey!

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