With the prior Monday’s announcement that Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band would play 1975’s Born To Run in its entirety, you’d think that the element of surprise might be lacking from the opening show of Springsteen’s Giant Stadium farewell run. But true to form, Bruce reached into his bag of tricks for a brand new song scripted specifically for the evening.
“Wrecking Ball” was the Boss’ swan song to the soon to be demolished building. For a song that was hastily written to say the least, it was pretty damn good. For the first few verses, it resembled many of Bruce’s acoustic readings, but when Curt Ramm started cooking on the trumpet, it turned into a full Dixieland stomp. A hot rendition of “Seeds” segued into a blazing “Johnny 99,” which featured Springsteen simply playing his ass off. “Atlantic City” showcased Little Steven on the mandolin and had some fantastic fretwork from Springsteen and Nils Lofgren. For “Hungry Heart,” the Boss took a victory lap through the crowd and even allowed folks to snap pictures as the audience practically swamped him.
When he introduced the album sequence, Springsteen reminded the crowd that Friday would be Darkness and Saturday would be Born In The USA. But tonight… the harmonica blared, the screen door slammed and Mary’s dress waved. What followed was simply fantastic. The appearance of one classic after another kept the pacing of the show going full blast. Each version evoked the classic performances of the past. For “Backstreets,” Springsteen’s groans brought you back to the landmark renditions of the 70s. It was great to hear “Born To Run,” which usually marks the end segment of the show, lead right into the Bo Diddley groove of “She’s The One.” The rarely-performed “Meeting Across The River” especially benefitted from Ramm’s horns and created a beautiful entry into “Jungleland.” After Bruce’s guttural moan ended the album set, the band took a well-deserved bow and Bruce dedicated the performance to the late Danny Federici.
The sing-along of “Waitin’ On A Sunny Day” gave everyone a breather before a ripping “Promised Land.” The Three-Pack from The Rising album, led to the powerhouse one-two punch of “Badlands” and “No Surrender.” Even though Springsteen has played these songs countless times, these were standout versions. He and the band simply did not let up once. The “encore,” which is basically its own set began with Springsteen’s collecting sign requests as the band played the intro to “Raise Your Hand.” The crowd was kept guessing as he showed the signs to the band.
What followed was one of the annual handful of performances of “The E Street Shuffle.” For this one, you could see Bruce enjoying himself as much as the crowd. The second request “Growin’ Up,” even featured one of those short stories Springsteen used to tell during the song back in the day.
At this point, the show was close to hitting the three hour mark, which made his tale of having a nightmare that there were “60 fuckin’ candles” on his birthday cake this year (Sept. 23 to be exact) all the more unexpected and impressive. The Poguesy romp of “American Land” led into a similarly energetic “Dancing In The Dark.” When the spiritual “Hard Times No More” followed, you knew that there had to be one more song. On this night, there was no secret to what it would be. “Rosalita” put the finishing touches on a great, great show. As the tune built, Bruce was literally howling at the moon. If this was all on only the first night, than watch out.
Wrecking Ball->Seeds, Johnny 99, Atlantic City, Outlaw Pete, Hungry Heart, Working on a Dream, Thunder Road, Tenth Avenue Freezeout, Night, Backstreets, Born to Run, She’s the One, Meeting Across the River, Jungleland, Waitin’ on a Sunny Day, The Promised Land, Into the Fire, Lonesome Day, The Rising, Badlands, No Surrender
Encore: Raise Your Hand, The E Street Shuffle, Growin’ Up, American Land, Dancing in the Dark, Hard Times, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)