Springsteen delivers at the Garden

A review of Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band at the TD Banknorth Garden on April 21, 2009

, Staff Writer

What can I say about Bruce Springsteen that has not already been said – the man is an icon, an American legend; he is after all, “The Boss”. After four decades of touring, Springsteen and the E Street Band have perfected a formula that consistently results in one of the best shows of the year, and as the sold-out crowd at the TD Banknorth Garden will attest, this year is no different.

Springsteen opened the show with “Badlands” and “Adam Raised A Cain”, both from his 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town, then effortlessly transitioned to “Outlaw Pete” from his latest album Working On a Dream. The western inspired folk tale gave Springsteen a rare opportunity to showcase his theatrical skills, donning a cowboy hat and literally playing the part of Outlaw Pete. Thankfully, the theatrics didn’t last too long and The Boss stuck to the music.

After asking, “Is there anyone alive in Boston?” the band played “Out In the Street” and “Working On A Dream”, which, despite featuring the stellar whistling skills of Clarence Clemons, was probably the lowlight of the evening. Perhaps sensing a shift in the energy, Springsteen rallied the crowd saying, “we are here to build a house of spirit and noise, but we cannot do it ourselves, we will bring the music, but you need to bring the noise!”

Following “Seeds” and “Johnny 99”, the audience was treated to “Ghosts of Tom Joad”, which showcased the unbelievable guitar skills of Nils Lofgren. Up next was one of the highlights of the show. After soliciting requests from the audience (a staple of any Springsteen show) during “Raise Your Hand”, Springsteen picked a song that, much to his amusement, the band did not know! He said, “The band does not know this song, the band has never played this song.” But it didn’t stop them from launching into a cover of Z.Z. Top’s “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide”. The audience showed their appreciation by bowing to the E Street Band and chanting “Bruuuuuce.” For all of you Springsteen trivia junkies, it was the first time the song was played since 1987 – now that is impressive!

After a few more requests, Springsteen slowed things down a bit and sang the award winning song from the motion picture “The Wrestler”. Springsteen then dedicated “Kingdom of Days” to his wife (and member of the E Street Band) Patti Scialfa, who is recovering from injuries sustained in a horseback riding accident. Springsteen joked that, “Patti sends her regards, she has some weird contusions and whiplash from me driving her to the hospital, and no she was not out riding with Madonna.”

With drummer Max Weinberg’s son Jay taking over behind the kit, the band literally worked the audience into a frenzy with “Radio Nowhere” followed by “Lonesome Days”, “The Rising”, and crowd favorite, “Born To Run”. I know it is a cliche, but there is really nothing much better than hearing “Born to Run” performed live!

Springsteen ended the show with a brilliant five-song encore including “Hard Times”, “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” (complete with the trademark slide across the stage), “The Land of Hope and Dreams”, the Celtic inspired “American Land” that had fans literally doing the jig, and “Rosalita”.

Sure, the band played their hearts out for nearly three hours, the set list spanned Springsteen’s storied career, there were messages in his lyrics, a collection for the Boston Food Bank, and of course he flashed that trademark grin, but it is the undeniable chemistry with both the E Street Band and the audience that makes a Springsteen show a truly remarkable experience. From the opening chords to the closing melodies, Springsteen and his devotees were connected. It is a connection that has matured and evolved through four decades and, based on the energy level in the Garden, we can look forward to plenty more…. Bruuuuuuce!!!!

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