The Boss heats up the Comcast Center

A review of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band at the Comcast Center on August 22, 2009

, Staff

The Boss didn’t get his nickname for nothing. With 16 studio albums, 19 Grammys and over 120 million albums sold worldwide, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are one of the best live acts to catch these days. Thankfully, Bostonians have had plenty of chances to catch the legendary band in the Bay State over the past two years. This past weekend, Bruce and company returned for shows #6 and #7.

For the first of two nights at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, the humidity didn’t deter the 59-year old rocker, wearing tight jeans and a long sleeve shirt drenched in sweat, from putting on a great performance. Even if he had to pour buckets of ice and water over his head to cool down. Springsteen is notorious for mixing up his set lists, and Saturday night at the Comcast Center was no different. From old hits like “Rosalita” to new tunes like “Working on a Dream”, Springsteen entertained the crowd for just under three hours with a set that covered plenty of the band’s acclaimed catalogue.

Springsteen opened with “Jackson& Cage” off 1980’s The River followed by crowd favorite “She’s The One.” The crowd ate up oldies like “Hungry Heart” and “Badlands” with Springsteen taking a back seat to let the crowd sing the majority of the song. Backed by a movie sized screen, Springsteen rocked a cowboy hat during “Outlaw Pete” and video effects were used to make him look as if he was starring in an old Western movie. During “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day” off of 2002’s The Rising, Springsteen made his way through the first few rows to let a young girl sing the chorus. With the crowd cheering her on, she sang her heart out, changing the lyrics to “Waitin’ on a summers day” but Springsteen kept cheering her along with the crowd. It was cute, impromptu moment that makes each and every Springsteen different from the last.&

Springsteen could pack a venue solo, but the E Street Band is an integral part of the Springsteen concert experience with Nils Lofgren on guitar, Garry Tallent on bass, Roy Bittan on piano and synthesizer and returning organ and accordion player Charles Giordano. Winthrop native Steven Van Zandt (guitar and vocals), Clarence “Big Man” Clemons (sax, percussion) and Soozie Tyrell (violin, acoustic guitar, percussion) are the stand out band members that really bring the whole E Street band together. Each member boasts impressive musical backgrounds and Springsteen loves to challenge them.&

This was most apparent through the fan requests portion of the show, which featured rarities “If I Should Fall Behind” and “Burning Love”. Most fans made their requests via homemade posters but the most creative way had to be the hard to miss blow up doll in the pit – clad in a blue dress and bright red wig. Some could interpret the the doll to represent the missing Mrs. Springsteen, Patti Scialfa who has been noticeably absent on the tour, but most die hard fans knew it was a unique way to request “Detroit Medley” off of the live album Hammersmith Odeon, London ‘75. Van Zandt got a kick out of the doll, passing it off to Springsteen who picked up the doll and stated “Steve has many of these at home” and then began singing “Devil with the blue dress, blue dress, blue dress … wearin’ a wig, hat and shades to match.” Springsteen danced around with the doll a bit before tossing it next to the drum kit which Van Zandt took as his opportunity to take the wig off the doll and place on Springsteen’s head. A truly classic moment.

“Detroit Medley” kicked off the band’s encore (which was only after very brief water break) and also started Jay Weinberg’s night on drums. The son of E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg joined the band this year to fill in on select dates when his father had prior commitments with The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. The young Weinberg remained behind the kit for the remainder of the show as Springsteen moved onto “Hard Times”, a song originally penned in 1854 by Stephen C. Foster. Soon after, the familiar drum beats and keyboard of “Dancing In The Dark” got the crowd screaming. Springsteen brought another young girl on the stage to dance with him, as she and the crowd tried to pull off their best Courtney Cox impersonation.

Keeping the hits coming, Springsteen belted out fan favorite “Born In The U.S.A.” before bringing the epic show to a close with the old classic “Twist and Shout”.

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