Bruce Springsteen delivers spirited show in Boston

A review of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the TD Garden on March 26, 2012

, Editor-in-Chief

Bruce Springsteen has been called a rock god for years and with a reputation for delivering epic live performances with the E Street Band, its no surprise. But what he really is, is a preacher of the spirit and power of music. Using the stage as his pulpit, Springsteen delivered the good news once again in Boston before a capacity crowd at the TD Garden on Monday.

On the road to promote his brand new album, Wrecking Ball, Springsteen was once again joined by the legendary E Street Band. After the untimely death of saxophonist Clarence “Big Man” Clemons last June (which followed the 2008 death of keyboardist Danny Federici), its a new chapter in the E Street Band’s history. The band, featuring long time members Steven Van Zandt (guitar), Garry Talent (bass), Max Weinberg (drums), Roy Bottan (keyboards), Nils Lofgren (guitar) and Patti Scialfa (guitar), was bolstered to a 16-piece for the tour thanks in part to a 5-piece horn section and a trio of back up singers. Springsteen has turned to Clemon’s nephew Jake to fill the Big Man’s spot and he proved throughout Monday’s show that the choice was not purely symbolic but the talent is certainly there too as he filled each of the signature solos with relative ease.

The concert, especially the first half, was very much a showcase of Wrecking Ball with 8 of the album’s 12 tracks included in the night’s setlist. Springsteen kicked the near 3-hour show off with a pair of brand new tunes in lead single “We Take Care of Our Own” and “Wrecking Ball”. Both were warmly received (though the crowd, in classic Boston fashion, did throw some boos at the reference to the New York Giants during the latter). The band raised the bar with a stellar run through “Badlands” before returning to another newbie in the Celtic-folk fueled “Death To My Hometown”.

Springsteen then took a moment to address the Garden crowd. After thanking the Boston fans and recalling some of their previous shows in town, he addressed the state of the E Street Band. “We’ve come back tonight with some new friends and some old friends,” he declared. “But the mission of the E Street Band remains the same. It is unchanged. We’re here to bring the joyous and glorious power of music and shoot it straight into your heart tonight.”

Midway through “My City of Ruins”, Springsteen introduced the E Street Band. The biggest applause was reserved for the senior members before Springsteen asked if he was missing anybody. The crowd roared as a spotlight subtly shined down upon the area once occupied by Clemons and Federici. “All I can guarantee is that if you’re here tonight and we’re here tonight, then they’re here tonight,” he said before repeating multiple times, “they’re here tonight”.

Going deep into his back catalogue, Springsteen polished off “Thundercrack” to the delight of many diehard fans. After recalling their show at the Apollo Theater earlier this month, Springsteen and members of the E Street Band delivered an a capella medley featuring Motown classics “The Way You Do the Things You Do” and “634-5789”. At 62, Springsteen’s vocal remain sharp and his moves limber. He worked with the stage with ease and during the medley, made his way through the crowd to a small platform in the middle of the floor and after a few verses, proceeded to crowd surf his way back to the main stage.

The second half of the main set was buoyed by more recent fan favorites in “Lonesome Day” and “The Rising”, while “Thunder Road” brought it to a strong close. Of course, the show was far from over as the band quickly returned for what would become a six song encore. It began with another pair of songs from Wrecking Ball in “Rocky Ground” and “Land of Hope and Dreams”, the former featuring vocals from Michelle Moore. The house lights were turned on for the remainder of the show as the crowd exploded for raucous sing-alongs to classics “Born to Run” and “Dancing in the Dark”. Hometown legend Peter Wolf joined Springsteen on stage for a lively cover of Eddie Floyd’s “Raise Your Hand”.

The epic show came to a riveting close with a thunderous and emotionally fueled rendition of “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”. Prefacing the song’s lyrics by saying, “This is the important part,” he sang “When the change was made uptown and the big man joined the band”. The band went silent and the crowd roared with applause for well over a minute. It was a moving display of emotion, giving many in the crowd in goosebumps. When the band returned, the sing-along seemed even more jovial.

After thanking the crowd and taking a final bow with the full band, Springsteen promised, “we’ll be seeing ya again.” And a return visit later this summer can be expected with rumors swirling about a return to Fenway Park or Gillette Stadium. If you had any worries that Springsteen would slow down and the E Street Band would lose a step, put those aside. As he said at the start of the show on Monday, the mission remains the same. And as fans leaving the show on Monday can attest, it was mission accomplished for Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Setlist

1.  We Take Care of Our Own
2.  Wrecking Ball
3.  Badlands
4.  Death to My Hometown
5.  My City of Ruins
6.  Thundercrack
7.  Jack of All Trades
8.  Jackson Cage
9.  She’s the One
10. Easy Money
11. Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
12. The Promised Land
13. The Way You Do the Things You Do / 634-5789
14. American Skin (41 Shots)
15. Lonesome Day
16. The Rising
17. We Are Alive
18. Thunder Road
Encore:
19. Rocky Ground (with Michelle Moore)
20. Land of Hope and Dreams
21. Born to Run
22. Dancing in the Dark
23. Raise Your Hand (Eddie Floyd cover With Peter Wolf)
24. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out

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