Bruce Springsteen @L.A. Sports Arena 3/19/16

Incendiary. Third night in L.A. and you wonder what makes one night just that much better than the others? Yes the set-list changes, and yes this was the final event ever in the Sports Arena, one of Bruce’s favorite venues, and maybe it was that tonight’s seats were in a spot that made the sound just utterly fantastic, as I was able to hear every single instrument crystal clear. Who knows, but tonight’s show was incendiary from the time they hit the stage to the end, 36 songs and three hours and forty-five minutes.

When the tour began I was worried that seeing the River in its entirety many times would get old, the usual reason to see Bruce is the randomness of the set-list, and now 6 shows in, I can honestly say that The River is so perfect, it doesn’t get old at all. They’ve done an incredible job of arrangements on this music, adding nuances to the songs that didn’t exist on the original recordings, adding substance to songs like “Little Girl I Want to Marry You” and especially “Drive All Night”, which is just stunning in its complexity. Roy’s opening piano solo on “Point Blank” is mesmerizing, Steven, and make no mistake about it this tour is Steven’s time to shine as this is as large a role as he has played since the 70’s, his playing, his secondary vocals with Bruce show him to be the perfect rock and roll sideman. It might sound sacrilegious but Jake Clemons’s replacing The Big Man playing doesn’t miss a beat whatsoever. He might not be as big as “The Big Man’, but he can certainly play, and adding some youthful vigor to the band certainly doesn’t hurt.

Highlights: “Prove it all Night” opening the post-River set for the first time in L.A. this week with a blistering solo by Bruce in it. Followed by an incredible version of “My Love Will Not Let You Down” with all three guitarists pushing one another to new heights. A tour premier of “Tougher Than the Rest”, “Because the Night”, well I can see and listen to this live every single night, Nils guitar solo, one of the rare times an E Streeter gets to solo is always spectacular complete with his whirling dervish act. And while I was expecting this tonight, the addition of “Jungleland” always makes a show special. Steve’s mini-solo, Jake making like Uncle Clarence in blowing the roof off the building in the greatest sax solo in rock history.

The encore opened with “Wrecking Ball” with Bruce changing the lyrics to memorialize “The Dump That Jumps” as this was the bands 34th and final appearance at the nearly 60 year old Sports Arena, and clearly the E Street Band will miss this place in future tours. Even “Shout” the usual show finisher had extra oomph to it tonight…and then for good measure one more for Los Angeles, the 36th song of the night and the 45th different song played this week, “Bobby Jean”.

Thanks Bruce it was a fantastic week.

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Jump, Jump, Bruce @Mohegan Sun, 5/18/14

“The Last Dance” the final show of the ’14 tour, was a full assault of guitars, loud and hard was clearly the message tonight, and lots of surprises. Stevie was back with the band after finishing his Norwegian duties filming Lilyhammer and great to have his presence, he clearly brings out another side of Bruce. 8 tour premieres tonight, in fact the first 7 shows of the night were premieres, another 3 that were premiere for me, made the journey to Uncasville, CT, well worth it. Thanks to old friend Jeff Dellin for driving back and forth.

For the casino theme a double shot opener of “Another Roll of the Dice” with Bruce wanting to know how much everyone lost, “because they had to lose to pay me for being here”, into “Leap of Faith”, because what else is gambling, but that? Both rarely played from the non E Street Band albums, Human Touch and Lucky Town respectively, both great to here, would be awesome if the material from these two records were embraced by Bruce and the E Streeters. Then the biggest surprise one could imagine, a cover of Van Halen’s “Jump” which was note for note perfection, proving the band to be the greatest bar band ever. Next off of the Tracks compilation CD, “Frankie” and then it was request time and Bruce was going for the obscure tonight. First up, and while it is May, when a little girl of about 5-6 years old walks on stage carrying a sign that was as big as she was, you have to play the song. So on 5/18/14 came the earliest in the year rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, then a world premiere of “7 Angels” off of Tracks as well, and it killed, causing Bruce to muse afterwards that they need to play this one more often. It was a reward to a fan carrying the sign request for “at least the past 10 shows” according to Bruce, “Don’t Look Back” made it’s tour premiere as the 3rd straight request and the 4th in a row was the great “Darkness on the Edge of Town”. Now a welcoming back of Steve with a Stevie doubleheader, first the tour premiere of “You Can Look, But you Better Not Touch” with the two trading lyrics, followed by my premiere of my favorite song off of High Hopes, “Frankie Fell in Love”. After seeing 6 songs on this tour, so glad to have seen it. Time to blast away with a seven pack of guitar fury, can’t be described in any other manner.
1) Adam Raised a Cain
2) “High Hopes” with Morello soloing
3) Youngstown w/ Nils delivering his usual brilliant solo.
4) Murder, Inc.
5) Johnny 99 with the horns joining in
6) Cadillac Ranch
7) “I’m a Rocker” a tour premiere

Next up, another rarity, “Loose Ends” a recorded track from ’79, but not released for 20 years, and a great great song, Steve considers it one of Bruce’s classics.
The typical twofer of “The Ghost of Tom Joad” which as I’ve stated many times, never gets old, and “The Rising” leading into “Badlands” dropped down from its usual early set placement to the closer for the main set tonight.

The “encore section” opened with “Born to Run” earlier than usual, followed by “Ramrod” which continued the guitar army theme of the night and had a tremendous moment of the classic break at the end of the song with Bruce asking Steve, “Steve, what time is it”, Steve milks it for about 30-45 seconds, before giving a long passioned, “It’s Bosssssssssssss Time”. Next up “Dancing in the Dark” but the pick to dance with Bruce tonight had Steve pointing to someone in the audience, and the someone was Maureen Van Zandt, Steve’s wife, who also played his wife in The Sopranos. Dancing was followed by “10th Avenue Freeze-Out” which finished with the band taking their bows at the front of the stage and instead of the typical solo intros and Bruce’s rap about “you’ve just seen the hard-rocking, etc., etc., etc.” tonight it was “you’ve just seen the legendary…call out to audience “E Street Band”. One more calling out of instructions to the band members with Bruce walking to mic and saying “for the Last Dance” and it was time for “Jungleland”, always awe inspiring.

The band departed with Bruce hugging each and every member and talking about playing to 4 million people on the “Wrecking Ball/High Hopes” tour and thanking each and everyone of them for helping them come through hard times (Clarence’s passing), “so while we’re apart”, “Dream Baby Dream”. And it was over.

This U.S. leg of about 20 shows after South Africa/Australia/New Zealand, all in mostly mid-sized cities has been perceived as a warm-up for a larger tour in major markets later this summer. It was the thank you that made me think this isn’t going to happen. Bruce calling this the end of the “Wrecking Ball/high Hopes” tour, made it feel like just an extension of the ’12-’13 tour, that just happened to have a new CD recorded during a break. There was bunch of complaints in ’12 from the smaller cities Bruce hadn’t got to, I believe that was what the past 6 weeks were for, closing that loop. I think it will be awhile before we see another tour.

If that is the case the WB/HH tour had me see 25 shows, worth every penny of it!!!

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Bruce, Charlotte, NC 4/19/14. “It got a little wild tonight”

A direct quote from Bruce, it did get a little wild tonight, taking 8 requests over the course of the 3:10 minute show. Again why I go, 10 songs that weren’t played during my Australia trip, and at least 5 that I had never seen performed live.

It opened with an extreme rarity, “Iceman” a track from the Darkness sessions that didn’t make the cut, a great song with basically just Bruce and Roy on the duet. Followed by two tracks from the new CD, “High Hopes” and “Just Like Fire Would”. Then it basically became bar band time. Bruce has always called the E Street Band a great bar band, and tonight that’s what they were. First “Cadillac Ranch” with its Carolina reference was a given, but then it was request time and back to back requests were both firsts for me, and certainly were two songs that one can imagine Bruce and the Band playing at 3P in front of 20 people sometime in the late 60’s/early 70’s on the Jersey Shore. First up “Louie, Louie” and then “Mustang Sally” both rollicking. A solid “Badlands” followed, and then two more requests, “No Surrender” and “Out in the Street”. Crowd-surfing time during “Hungry Heart”, not one of my favorites, but understandably a staple. Then 3 more sign requests answered. First up “From Small Things (big things someday come), then a great version (bar band time) of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” and the always killer “Racing in the Street” with the usual brilliance of Roy on piano and Max on drums.

A trifecta off of Wrecking Ball CD with “Jack of All Trades” first time this tour for me, “Wrecking Ball” and “Death to My Hometown”. Still room for one more request, this one ” My Love Will Not Let You Down” also off of the “Tracks” compilation of unreleased material, back to Wrecking Ball for “Shackled & Drawn” which now has gospel overtones to it, finishing up with the wonderful Cyndi Meisel wailing away and then into “Waiting on a Sunny Day” complete with cute little girl singing the chorus with Bruce, could always do without this one, but a crowd favorite. Then it was revving it up time.

Tom Morello is along on this tour and that makes “The Ghost of Tom Joad” a staple now and I couldn’t be happier, I would pay the price of admission just to see this song live every night. Morello is some kind of alien, the only explanation, the usual pairing of this with “The Rising” and then the main set closer, another tour premiere for me was “Light of Day” from the film of the same name which raucousness kept with the bar band tone of the night.

Encores start with the 9th request of the evening, “Darkness on the Edge of Town”. Another tour premiere for me with a great and poignant story leading into it. Bruce told of two Jersey Shore musicians who were heroes to him as he grew up and both had died in Viet Nam, inspiring him to write “The Wall” which is on the new High Hopes CD, a beautiful song. A born doubleheader followed with the very rarely played in the U.S. “Born in the USA”, followed by the always played “Born to Run” a fun back to back duo with arguably his two most famous songs ever. “Dancing in the Dark”, “10th Avenue Freeze-Out” and more bar band music with “Shout” finished the main encores. Band departed leaving Bruce alone on stage with a upright electric piano to finish solo with the haunting “Dream Baby Dream”

Goodbye Charlotte. Thanks to my good friend Kay Hall for arranging tonight’s tickets and a lovely evening with her, her sister Velma and Velma’s husband George. Great night, next stop Ft. Lauderdale next week as my sister gets a great 60th birthday present!!!!

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Bruce in Sydney, 2/19/14: Friday on my Mind

I decided that I am no longer going to rate the shows, seriously they all range from very good to great. Some stats, tonight was the shortest of the 3 Southern Australian shows,  another 30 songs tonight, clocking in at an “abbreviated 2:55”, 13 songs in this show that weren’t played in Melbourne, giving me a total of 62 songs over the 3 shows, not too shabby.

Bruce is known to pay homage to the cities/countries he plays in, tonight’s opener did just that with a great cover of the 1966 classic “Friday on My Mind” from the Easybeats an Aussie band. It was awesome, with Bruce stalking the lip of the stage and almost growling the words, the arena here in Sydney was on fire from that moment on. Also nice to be indoors after 2 shows in a soccer stadium. The opener was followed perfectly with “Out in the Street” whose closing line of the 2nd verse is “I’ve already got Friday on my mind”. From what I can research, this was the first time Bruce ever played “Friday on My Mind”. Selection #3 was “Cadillac Ranch”, also a first time for this week, and that raised my total to 52 songs and we had hours to go!

The next mini-set was “High Hopes” which I hope becomes an E Street Standard, great playing by percussionist Edward Bradley with Bruce and Tom Morello, into “Just Like Fire Would”, and then a story leading into “Spirit in the Nights” Bruce again on the lip of the stage, sitting and detailing his computerized toilet in his fancy hotel here in Sydney. Concluding with when he had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night the toilet opened automatically and Bruce could hear it saying, “can you hear the spirit”?

From there came Bruce’s thank you to Sydney for having him back and as a thank you they would play “Darkness on the Edge of Town” in its entirety. Have to say that after having “Born in the USA” and “Born to Run” in Melbourne, this was expected by me, but still thrilling. The highlights of the 11 song album ( in order: Badlands, Adam Raised a Cain, Something in the Night, Candy’s Room, Racing in the Street, The Promised Land, Factory, Streets A Fire, Prove it All Night and Darkness) were “Adam Raised A Cain” which is just so damn powerful live and with the 4 guitarists all contributing, just ear-shattering live, with Bruce himself bringing it home with a blistering solo. “Racing in the Street” which is an entirely different animal live than it is recorded, with a grand finale that lasts minutes and is the masterpiece for “The Professor” Roy Bittan, as his piano playing is mesmerizing on this with Bruce on guitar and Max on drums combining to make this live performance a highlight as always. Finally the penultimate song of the album “Prove it All Night” while not the ’78 live version, it is still incredible, with a Bruce solo and an incendiary, whirling dervish solo by the great Nils Lofgren.

Should note that tonight has a sad note to it, which changed the arrangement of the band. Jake Clemons wasn’t with the band as his father, Clarence’s brother, passed away. This resulted in E Street horn sax player, and former Asbury Juke, Ed Manion, stepping up big time to take all of the famous sax solos and doing it expertly.

After “Darkness” the main set was filled out by “Darlington County” with a great sharing of center stage and solo with Bruce  by Suzy Tyrell on violin. “Shackled & Drawn”, and “Waiting on a Sunny Day (which I had left out of Sunday’s setlist, maybe wishful thinking). Of course an out of this world “Ghost of Tom Joad” with Morello delivering his alien guitar playing traits,  I will never tire of hearing this one live, and the set closer of “Land of Hope and Dreams”.

Encore opened with another homage to Australian music with a phenomenal cover version of INXS’ “Don’t Change”, here’s a little taste of it. Pretty standard band encores from there, “Born to Run”, “Dancing in the Dark” which had about 1/2 of Sydney on stage dancing with the band at one point, “10th Avenue Freeze Out” and “Shout”. The two solo  finales were both new, first Bruce took a request sign and for a young mans birthday wish played “Surprise, Surprise” on guitar, and then for what I believe is the first time on this tour, on organ, a great version of “Dream Baby Dream”. And with that my Australian Bruce tour comes to an end. Tonight was special as the playing of “Darkness” from 1978, takes me back to my favorite summer of my life, the summer that cemented this relationship I have with Mr. Springsteen. It was that summer, that along with friends, Billy, Stu, Mark and others we saw Bruce wherever and whenever we could, it was great moments at the age of 21 that I will never forget, 4 nights in MSG in the first row each night, traveling to Philly, Hartford, it was the best summer of my life with Bruce as the musical score for the entire 90 days. Here I am 35+ years later, turning 57 today, probably still trying to recapture it, and doing a damn good job of trying.

A special thanks to my wonderful wife Julianne LaMarche who indulges this obsession and was a great trooper taking in 3 shows in 5 nights. Thank you honey. Now off to the bar for some E Street stalking as I have learned the band is staying in the same hotel!

Next stop Cincinnati on April 8th.


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Bruce in Melbourne, AU. 2/16/14

Standard operating principle in the states is that when Bruce plays back-to-back shows, that the second one is usually where he pulls out all of the stops, after a first night that is usually standard. Well last night was anything  but standard, so who knew what tonight was to be.

I’d describe it as dramatic, powerful, furious, to me an epic show. Certainly one of the best I’ve seen. 29 songs (although I  might be off one on the short side, as I accidentally deleted my notes near the end), and 3 hours and 50 minutes. Bruce clearly likes it hear in Melbourne. Remarkably of the 29 songs played, only 13 were repeats of the night before, giving me 48 numbers in two nights.

The power started from the get go, while “Born in the USA” isn’t one of  my favorite Bruce cuts, it makes for an extremely powerful opener, just as did 30 years ago, and overseas plays even better. So we were off and running, and then in the 2nd slot, and as Derek Jeter is the perfect #2 hitter, so is “Badlands”, powerful and a great compliment to the opener with no let down at all. One could say it advanced the runners, and set the show up for the big numbers to come.

First up in the changes was a surprise and I think the first time I have ever heard it live, “Lucky Town”, from the underrated Cd of the same name, followed by the great rarity “Roulette”, and then it was the late 1970’s again. Bruce sat at the lip of the stage and with Roy’s piano repeating the opening notes of “Growin’ Up”, ala 1976-1978, Bruce told a story. It wasn’t “that goddamned guitar”, or “I was a teenage werewolf”, nor was it “let it rock”, but a story, with Bruce taking us back to his pre-school days and staying up all night with his grandma watching the Late Show, and The Late Late Show (while he mimicked the syncopated clock that opened both of those on WCBS-TV in NY), and falling asleep to the test patterns. And this eventually lead to his downfall as a student, and the inevitable lead-in to the opening line of “I stood stoned like at midnight….”, just superb to hear a story again. “Growin'” was followed by a twofer from “Wrecking Ball”, the title song and the always great and lyrically powerful “Death to My Hometown”. Then the first “oh my” of the evening, even though they performed it last night, tonight’s performance of “High Hopes” was spectacular, longer and more powerful than last evening, with Edward Bradley taking center stage with Bruce and of course Tom Morello, the 3 feeding off one another, for a sheer A+ performance. “Just Like Fire Would” followed and then the only sign request of the evening, and what a request it was. My favorite all-time Bruce song, and a live rarity, the amazing “Lost in the Flood”, which personifies power. I mentioned last evening there were zero selections from “Greetings From Asbury Park”, well “Growin’ Up” and “Flood” had taken care of that in style, and then one more to seal it. And to start another story with Bruce once again sitting down to talk about a lake (Greasy?) and the woods near where he grew up and the legend of the Jersey Devil, all of this to lead into “Spirits in the Night”.

We were now 90 minutes in, and on fire, when like last night, Bruce spoke to the crowd about how much they enjoyed their time in Melbourne last year and how welcomed they are here, and wanted to do something special, so tonight it would be another full album performance, this time “Born to Run.” So a show that already had the power of “Born in the USA”, “Badlands”, “Death to My Hometown” and “Lost in the Flood”, would now get the power of “Backstreets” and “Jungleland”, the magnificence of ‘She’s the One”, the brilliance of “Thunder Road”, the beauty of “Meeting Across the River” and of course “10th Avenue” and the title song, and throw in “Night for good measure.

Now at nearly the 2:30 mark, and still going strong.  Repeated from last night, the wonderful “Heaven’s Wall”, which with its world music flavoring, I hope becomes a mainstay of the tour, and then finishing in the same manner as last night, “The Rising”, the ridiculously amazing “Ghost of Tom Joad” and the gospel tinged, and incredible “Land of Hope and Dreams”.

Encore time, from “Wrecking Ball”, the always welcome, for me, “We Are Alive”, then a little rockabilly with “Ramrod”, although it was missing Steve’s signature “it’s Boss time” but still rocked the house, followed by,”Bobby Jean”, “Dancing in the Dark” and “Twist and Shout”. That sent the band home for the night and left Bruce alone on the stage. Every show on this tour had ended with an acoustic “Thunder Road”, but with that already having been played Bruce pulled out one more rarity, “This Hard Land”, and then at 11:50PM, it was over, a marathon of 3:50.

On to Sydney.

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Random Music Notes: Bruce 2/15/14, Melbourne, AU

“We learned more from a 3 minute record, than we ever did in school”.


10,000 miles away from the east coast that spawned Bruce and the E Street Band, and the passion for them is clearly global. 30,000 fans packed the AAMI Park Stadium and I was for sure not the lone American, couldn’t help but notice the baseball hats of the Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Orioles, Dodgers, and NY Giants in the crowd. We were all treated to a very different but still epic show. 32 songs, 3 1/2 hours of non-stop music and a surprise complete album performance of “Born in the USA”.

Different was the absence of the true Springsteen classics until the encore section, but still a powerful show.

As he did in Perth last week, they opened with a homage to Australia and AC/DC with an E Street rendition of “Highway to Heaven” but with guest star Eddie Vedder, who stayed for “Darkness on the Edge of Town” as well. HTH showcased what can only be called an orgy of guitar virtuosos, Bruce, Little Steven, Nils Lofgren and now Tom Morello, all front and center blasting away on Highway. It’s like the E Street Band is doing their own build-up of nuclear weapons, but in the form of guitars. Vedder departed after the first two numbers, but the guitar orgy continued with Badlands, moved to the head of the show for this tour. Live classic “Seeds”  lead into Morello’s first solo turn, this on “High Hopes”, and as always he delivered. another new number, at least for the E Streeters, an Aussie favorite from local band the Saints, “Just Like Fire Would” with Little Steven soloing here.

The first audience sign request was honored, with as Bruce said, an obscure one, Gary U.S. Bonds’ “Jole Blon” with great solos by Suzy Tyrell on violin and Charlie Giordano on accordion, the second sign request was a bit odd, since it was what is basically a show staple, “Hungry Heart”. The huge mega-hits, to no surprise, are huge favorites overseas.

Then the big surprise, with Bruce telling the crowd, that since they were just hear a year ago, they didn’t want to repeat anything so were going to perform “Born in the USA” from start to finish, a first for me. As the album that Bruce officially jumped the shark with 30 years ago, for me it is forgotten how truly great a collection of material it is, 11 songs, and every one memorable. Highlights were Nils’ solo on “Cover Me”, Suzy and Jake’s solos on “Darlington County” and  Steve’s on “Downbound Train”, a truly great song, that isn’t played live enough. Surprising to me was the crowd knowing virtually every word to “I’m on Fire” and “Goin’ Down”, two of the more obscure BITU songs.

After the completion of the album, another sign request, and this was a real rarity,  answering the sign’s “for the thousands who have lost their working lives” was “Factory” off of the Darkness album, followed by its modern day companion piece from “Wrecking Ball”, “Shackled and Drawn” which has become a great live number, highlighting the vocals of Cindy Mizelle, one of the singers featured in “20 Feet From Stardom”.

Morello being part of the band means that “The Ghost of Tom Joad” is now an E Street regular, as it should be and as I’ve described it before, his playing on this number is truly from a place that no one else has ever visited, it is an insane performance. “The Rising” and “Land of Hope and Dreams”, the latter now becoming a classic song, finished out the main set.

The encores opened with new song, and a great live version of “Heaven’s Wall”, which launched right into “Born to Run” and then a surprise, “Rosalita”, with has now become a vehicle for Bruce and Steve to mug it up. “7 Nights to Rock” tore it up, into “10th Avenue Freeze Out” and finally “Shout”. To close it out, an acoustic solo version of “Thunder Road”.

Well worth the travelling. Another show tomorrow night, maybe I will get a full album version of Greetings from Asbury Park, since they didn’t do one selection from it tonight.

Until tomorrow.


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The Rolling Stones: Staples Center 5/3/13

I must say that I bought tickets to this show with great trepidation, mostly wanted to make sure that the kids got to see them before they finally called it quits. Lo and behold they delivered a spectacular show, actually amazing, easily one of the greatest shows I’ve ever witnessed. From start to finish they were on fire. What an open with the UCLA Marching Band entering from the rear of the arena playing Satisfaction, into a video presentation with testimonials to what the Stones meant to people, and finally, the PA announcer, “ladies and gentleman, The Rolling Stones”.

Then it was “hey, hey, he, he, Get off of My Cloud”. From there the hits just kept coming. Clearly this is a “best of” show, with I believe one new number mixed in there, but every number going back to the mid-60’s was fresh and vibrant. Mick at 70 hasn’t really lost one step, still as energetic as always, still dancing and prancing, Keith and Ronnie were both at their best last night, Charlie, was Charlie, all of the supporting musicians, Leavell, Keyes, Jones, back up singer Lisa Fisher, were amazing.

Highlights, after Get off of My Cloud was “The Last Time” which was dripping with irony, if it is, they are going out with gusto.  “Gimmer Shelter” with Mick trading vocals with Lisa Fisher was incredible, I still maintain that Gimme Shelter possesses the greatest open of any rock song ever, will always send chills down my spine. Gwen Stefani coming out to duet with Mick on “Wild Horses”, Keith Urban guesting and tearing it up with Keith and Ronnie on “Respectable”.  But without a doubt the greatest guest slot was former Stone Mick Taylor joining the band for “Midnight Rambler”, no song, to me, embodies the Stones like Rambler, and Taylor was just shredding the air with his guitar. A phenomenal number. A fantastic “Sympathy for the Devil”, the first live performance ever of “Emotional Rescue”,  Keith getting his usual two turns at the mic and tearing it up on “Happy”.

3 encores, the first being incredible, with the Cal. State Northridge choir lining both sides of the stage to accompany the band on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. Just beautiful.

Hard to say what they didn’t play, all of the classics were there, “Honky Tonk”, “Brown Sugar”, “Start me Up”, “Tumbling Dice”, “Miss You”, they were all there.

Glad I went.

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