Tuesday, December 10, 2002

No surprise -- this was truly a kick-ass show.

I haven't seen Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in close to 20 years, but they were as good as they ever were. Springsteen in middle-age may not be quite the rock and roll athlete he was in his prime, but his energy hasn't diminished by much -- he and that glorious band still pump it out like it's the last show on earth. A truly inspirational evening.

The set included most, perhaps all, of The Rising as well as a wonderful array of oldies: "Ramrod," "Growin' Up," "She's the One," "No Retreat, No Surrender," "Badlands," "The Promised Land," "Born in the U.S.A." and, naturally "Born to Run." No "Jungleland," unfortunately, as we had hoped, but what the hell. Oh, and a blazing, fantastic, all-stops-out "Devil With a Blue Dress" medley for an encore, along with "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town."

Briuce has lost none of his showmanship; he worked that crowd. You could tell that he saw it as his sworn duty to take a group of 14,000 people all primed to rock and just push them over the edge -- push them over the edge by pushing himself over it. The groove just keeps building and building. And what an electric jolt was the band: Little Steve, Gary, Roy, the magisterial Clarence, Nils, Mighty Max, Patti, Danny, and some chick on violin whose name escapes me. How good it was to see them all again.

The first time I ever saw Bruce Springsteen was in January of 1981, and I wrote some little column about it for The Marion Star, where I then worked. I don't know whatever became of that piece, but I remember writing it with the same enthusiasm I feel now, and I recall saying how, as I was writing, my voice was still hoarse, I had shin splints from jumping around like a maniac and my hands were raw from clapping. I thank I ended that piece by saying "Thanks Bruce."

I feel the exact same way now.

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