To me, every Bruce Springsteen concert is a marathon adventure and last night was no different. Having scored a last minute GA ticket sold to me by fellow fans from Tasmania, I was all set for the first part of my first ever two-nights -in -a -row Bruce concerts !
As is so often the case in Melbourne, the weather decided not to play along, promising to dish out stifling humidity followed by 60% chance of rainfall in the evening. Working out what to wear was difficult, but in the end I did wear my jeans and a spaghetti string tank top with a light cotton shirt, which I only wore on the air-conditioned train…It ended up not raining until the early morning hours, of course, because it has long been proven that Bruce has the power to stop the rain !
I decided not to queue up for number allocation in the early morning, since I could not face the whole day on my feet. I got there at 6pm and ended up in a relatively good spot about twenty metres from the stage, which was ok considering I had not tried very hard! As it turned out, it was about as close as you can stand without twisting your neck and probably about 5 metres closer than i was at Hanging Rock last year.
That concert last year was amazing and I wondered whether this could be topped in a Melbourne sports stadium. The short answer : yes and no.
In many ways this concert was the better one, as it had the whole party atmosphere going from the start and playing Born In The USA from start to finish really got the crowd going. However,the magic of last year’s concert at Hanging Rock was the fact that he played so many great rarities (Something In the night, Incident On 57th Street, Candy’s Room , Jackson Cage and the outrageous boogie version of Open All Night) and also the more intimate setting combined with the sheer spiritual power of the Rock itself.
The band began with “Highway to Hell’ and a surprise visitor :Eddie Vedder! It was excellent. But after a few songs I noticed that the sound was a bit off, with many of the instruments sounding out of tune. At times it was also difficult to differentiate between the instruments too and one of Bruce’s mikes had dropouts.
About half an hour into the concert, Bruce decided to play the whole Born in the USA album, which was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me, as I first saw him in 1985 on the original Born In The USA tour at the Olympia stadium in Munich, Germany. All I can say is, the album has aged well and the songs probably sound better now then they did almost 30 years ago. I have my favorites : Cover M e” and “Working on the Highway”… but also the rarely played Downbound Train and I’m going Down .
On”Dancing in the Dark” the guys in wigs who danced with backup singer Cindy totally stole the show in a hilarious moment with Bruce exclaiming “Only in Australia”.
He played my new favorites too: Shackled and Drawn, Heaven’s Wall, High Hopes, Land of Hope and Dreams and the incredible Ghost of Tom Joad , an old song that has found a new home due to Tom Morello blowing the whole E-Street band out of the water with his otherworldly guitar playing.
There were some nice moments for the activist in me, Bruce introducing “Factory” (a fan request for the factory workers who are losing their jobs) with a speech about the” greed and recklessness of a relatively small number of people” and Tom Morello wearing a small aboriginal flag on his black shirt!
Just like last year, the latter part of the concert became a full on Rock’Roll party endurance test, but finished on a soft note with Thunder Road, which more than any other song connects Bruce to his longtime fans.
Tonight is promising to be different again and I’ve got a seat so I can relax a bit more. A the end of the day to see Bruce Springsteen play live is not about which song he plays on a given night, or whether the sound is perfect, but about the incredible warmth and love he shares with his audience . Bring on part two!
1. Highway to Hell (with Eddie Vedder)
2. Darkness on the Edge of Town (with Eddie Vedder,)
5. High Hopes
6. Just Like Fire Would
7. Jole Blon (tour premiere, sign request)
8. Hungry Heart (sign request)
9. Born in the U.S.A
10. Cover Me
11. Darlington County
12. Working on the Highway
13. Downbound Train
14. I’m on Fire
15. No Surrender
16. Bobby Jean
17. I’m Goin’ Down (tour premiere)
18. Glory Days
19. Dancing in the Dark
20. My Hometown (tour premiere)
21. Factory (tour premire, sign request)
22. Shackled and Drawn
23. The Ghost of Tom Joad
24. The Rising
25. Land of Hope and Dreams
26. Heaven’s Wall
27. Born to Run
28. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
29. Seven Nights to Rock
30. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
32. Thunder Road (solo acoustic)
Photos from brucespringsteen.net