Sunday, June 1, 2008

Gig review: Bruce Springsteen in a stadium

Last night, we ventured out to the Emirates Stadium (apparently it's got something to do with football) to witness Bruce Springsteen do his rock "thang". There was plank spanking, there were extended "axe" solos, there were pensioners in jeans.

It was ace.

I was brought up with The Boss as a constant soundtrack in my dad's Vauxhall Cavalier, with the consequence that I never really got into his music until I left home and was allowed to discover it for myself. I still wouldn't admit to being an out-and-out fan, mind you. Too many of Springsteen's songs plough the same over-earnest furrow and his melodies can be aggravatingly similar before he throws down one of those trademark anthemic choruses.

And, for a relative novice like me, it was the widescreen, crowd-pleasing refrains that won the night. Opener Out In The Street has a big, dumb "woah-oh-oh" bit that got everyone on their feet and Bruce milked it for all he was worth.

The 58-year-old scampered around like a man with a weasel up his bottom, striding up and down the front row, shaking hands, taking dedications, and throwing demigod poses before collapsing in fits of laughter. I see where Bono gets it from now.

Springsteen's long-term backing group, the "heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, earth-quaking, nerve-breaking, history-making, legendary E Street Band!" were in fine form, too. A working example of the less is more school of rock, they only came centre stage when the music demanded - despite the fact that many of them are as recognisable as the frontman himself.

But Emirates is in a built-up residential area, so the finer points of the band's music were lost to the breeze as the sound limits placed on the PA system left them struggling to fill the stadium. For first-timers, like mrsdiscopop, the lyrics - an essential part of Springsteen's music - were barely audible.

It didn't help that it was a rather fan-orientated set, either. The only big-hitters were I'm On Fire, Born To Run, Because The Night and 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy). Which was a shame, because the previous night's audience had heard the likes of Dancing In The Dark, Glory Days and Thunder Road. The rotters.

But I'd unreservedly recommend a night out with Brucie. I've seen musicians half his age who have half of his energy, commitment and enthusiasm. A more intimate setting would be high on my list of priorities, though.

Out In The Street
No Surrender
Darkness On The Edge Of Town
Gypsy Biker
Radio Nowhere
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Growin' Up
Downbound Train
I'm On Fire
Because The Night
She's The One
Livin' In The Future
Mary's Place
The Promised Land
The Rising
Last To Die
Long Walk Home

--- Encore ---
Born To Run
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
American Land

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