|Photo by Maria Ives|
I went to the show a bit apprehensive. I've reviewed lots of Bruce shows at my blog, and they've pretty much always been glowing. One of the things that I respect about Bruce is that he always makes it matter. Unlike so many of his peers, he doesn't simply glide on his greatest hits, and he still has something to say. His new albums (generally) feel important. I also always have gotten the sense that he will know when to call it a day. After Clarence Clemons passed away, I thought that it might be time to retire The E Street Band. I was really surprised to find out that he was bringing them out on tour, and even more so when I found out that Wrecking Ball isn't an E Street Band album. But I think Clarence's passing - and Danny Federici's - reminded Bruce that time is passing, and a five year break between tours might be too long of a break to return from.
Still, I wasn't sure if this would be one tour too many. How long can this band - most of whom are over 60 years old - continue to be the best band in the land?
Well, it turns out that they can hold on to their collective crowns a bit longer. They kicked ass, and Bruce has lost none of his power. And - importantly - Wrecking Ball is great, and it goes over well in concert.
As I mentioned in my CBS piece, all eyes were on Jake Clemons, nephew of Clarence, and one of two sax players in the newly installed horn section. He did great, playing iconic solos on "Badlands," "Promised Land," "Out In The Street" and "Dancing In The Dark."
The emotional center of the show, for me, was "My City Of Ruins." The song was originally written for Asbury Park, but Bruce played it, famously, at the post-9/11 telethon, and at that point it became about 9/11. But now, it's more personal. During the song, he takes a "band roll call," introducing everyone in the group, and noting the absence of Clarence and Danny. When he said, "If you're here, and we're here, they're here," there may have been some dry eyes in the house, but my eyes weren't among them. I could only think of my boss and dear friend Allyson, who took me to two Bruce shows over the past few years. I did feel like she was there.
The setlist was great - it didn't feel like a retro show, they played a lot of Wrecking Ball, and although they skipped Working On A Dream (fine with me), Magic and Devils & Dust, they also played four songs from the now-classic Rising album. Because it's not a greatest hits revue, that gives the hits that they play - "Born To Run," "Badlands," "Thunder Road" - even more power. And it was cool to hear real rarities like "So Young and In Love" and "Seaside Bar Song."
Judging by the setlists and reports on Backstreets, the shows have gotten even better... so I'm glad I have tickets to see the band two more times in the fall when they play Metlife Stadium.