Strewth! Bruce Almighty!

Ten years in the waiting and finally Bruce Springsteen and the E street Band roll back in to Brisbane, and as Bruce reminds us, it was “Saturday niiiight!” making sure the crowd knows they’re here to have fun, as the second of his two shows in Queensland gets underway.

Opening with High Hopes from his Blood Brothers EP, then The Promised Land, The Boss then eased in to the first cuts from his Wrecking Ball LP, the title track and Death To My Hometown. Through these opening songs the 17-strong band give the night a sense of jubilation, an overwhelming feeling of communal euphoria fills the air in accordance with ancient Springsteen scriptures. We are about to see the glory of an alternative mythology, one where ordinary lives become extraordinary and heroic.

A moment of reflection during My City of Ruins for the departed ‘Phantom’ Dan Federici and Clarence Clemons doesn’t slow momentum, but wrings more emotion from the crowd as two lone spotlights of where they used to stand raise a huge round of applause.

Clemons’ nephew Jake, takes up the sax role on E Street. But not as a direct replacement, he takes the stage with the rest of the E Street Horns rather than to the Boss’s right hand. As ever within E Street, you work your way up to these things. But he has a similar physical presence to his uncle, plus a top natty afro, and Bruce encourages him to the front of the stage adding more visual to a show so musically based.

Boss Tom WPMiami Steve, or Little Steven or Steven Van Zandt, is also missing, but through acting commitments rather than mortality. His replacement is Tom Morello, the Nightwatchman with his own fight for the workingman. During The Ghost of Tom Joad he and Bruce trade solos before Morello goes off on his own displaying the sort of guitar skills he is renowned for. This little piece of the spotlight shows he is on E Street through merit rather than simply hired help, his onstage energy vital to the frontline band.

The show leans heavily on Springsteen’s early work with only smattering of songs post Born In The USA. The songs played from Wrecking Ball and The Rising sit comfortably together, sets of songs commenting on economic hardship and a nation on its knees looking in hope for a better future. Of course, getting songs to align sonically shouldn’t be an issue for a band as full and as talented as E Street. But perhaps there is a little less airbrushing to these albums, a slightly more acoustic feel which enables smooth running.

Boss and Boy WPWaiting On A Sunny Day brightens the night further. A young boy is pulled from the crowd, dressed as Bruce from the Born In The USA cover, including  a red trucker hat. He gamely sings the chorus before Bruce splashes soapy water in his and the boys’ knees to enable a crowd-pleasing knee slide towards a waiting camera. More show from the New Jersey showman, and more cheering from the happy crowd.

The Boss is a definitely a considered showman, he’s thought out every moment of this three hour rock ‘n’ soul extravaganza, so the working man who tonight has put his hand in his pocket can get the maximum from Springsteen’s working men and women. 12 song changes from Thursday’s show displays just how strong the catalogue is, and how hard the band work during the whole tour. A rather peculiar omission was Wrecking Ball’s lead track, We Take Care of Our Own, but a magical version of Racing in the Street had everyone wide eyed and uplifted by Roy Bittan’s virtuosic piano playing.

After two hours the house lights come on. Oh, this isn’t the end of the show; this is where the show gets rockier and sweatier. An anthemic Born To Run met with 12,000 pairs of clapping hands and voices roaring approval. Dancing In The Dark is still an important part of the show and girls are still queuing up to dance with Bruce. One even holds aloft a banner for a dance with Jake. And Bruce approves, pulling the girl up she then twists away happily as Jake serenades her with his sax.

As the show nears its climax, Bruce keeps the smiles wide by taking another walk through the crowd during Tenth Avenue Freeze Out. On a raised walkway in the middle of the arena floor Bruce leads the song and then another tribute to his lost friends – a joyous moment where their pictures on the big screens bring even more applause from the delirious crowd.

The E Street band then come to the front of the stage and take their well-deserved applause, but as they leave the stage there’s one more thank you. Bruce shakes each one by the hand before his own final wave goodbye to his adoring fans.

The Boss has always been earnest and genuine everyman. We’ve worked hard all week and he expects his band members to do the same for our entertainment, especially under today’s fiscal pressures. Through this belief, Bruce squeezes every kilojoule of energy from his body to put on a performance akin to the showmen of the past. There were glimpses of the Godfather of Soul in his repertoire tonight, so unsurprisingly we filed out to Brown’s hit The Payback, all glowing with happiness and feeling our hard earned dollar had been well spent.

One Response to “Strewth! Bruce Almighty!”
  1. markwprandle says:

    I only know a couple of Bruce’s songs. Looks like he is still as fit as ever

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