Up here in the chilly northwest for the last leg of The Lonnie Burstein Wrecking Ball Tour 2012, very nice of Mr. Springsteen to be able to join me on so many of these visits!
The band had been off for about a week, so was expecting a fairly traditional show, and for the most part, it was, not that it is a bad thing. Heavy on Wrecking Ball to start with 4 of the first 6 songs being from the new CD. Opened with “Shackled & Drawn” which I believe was a first for the tour, and while the opening of the song makes for a great in the dark, lights not up yet, open, the full band (all 17 members) stage front at the conclusion of the song felt a bit forced and out of place at that moment. Right into the only crowd pleasing “Out in the Street” and then “Hungry Heart”. HH for me one of those songs where Bruce nearly jumped the shark back in the 80’s is clearly different here. Obviously Bruce didn’t have as great an impact in a city like Vancouver until after Born to Run and Darkness, so Hungry Heart, his first top 10 single, resonates greatly hear, and drove the crowd into a frenzy, much like when he plays “Born in the USA” in Europe. This was followed by the Wrecking Ball trio of “We Take Care of Our Own”, “Wrecking Ball” and “Death to My Hometown”. DTMY is becoming one of my all-time live favorites, the band and Bruce just kill on this number.
Evolution, seven months into the tour now, and it is interesting to see the subtle changes Bruce makes to some numbers. “My City in Ruins” is one of those. This song, one of a half-dozen that has been played at every show, has evolved from March, and tonight had some new elements. One was the obvious, Bruce now references the destruction that Hurrican Sandy brought to the Jersey Shore, appropriate since the song was originally written about the despair Asbury Park had fallen into, the second, and more subtle was a bit chilling. As the song neared its close, Bruce moved into the spotlight that covers the area that once held The Big Man and is splashed in light for this entire number, Bruce then added the the verse in a soulful pleading manner of “the change was made up town”, about 8-10 times, while looking toward the roof. Moving.
Tonight had many moments that showed how Bruce is the absolute greatest at working an audience. During the set-up for “Spirits in the Night” he referenced a sign back-stage that reads. “we are all Canucks” (reference to the hometown hockey team) and then looked out in the audience laughing and said “what the fuck is a Canuck”, the response was deafening.
Request time: #1 “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street”which featured a great percusion duet between Everett and Max, followed by the greatest sign request ever seen, (photo on my Facebook page), a fan made a sign of a red-headed woman, to request the song of that name, and there was the tour premiere for Bruce’s ode to wife Patty. Request #3 was the rarely played, but for me the 2nd show in a row after having seen it in Pittsburgh of “Streets A Fire”. Don’t know the 30+ year aversion of playing this one live, because it just kills. Followed by “Because the Night” with the always incendiary Nils Lofgren solo, which ignites the crowd into a frenzy, right into “She’s the One” but not an ordinary version this one came with the circa 1978 open of “Not Fade Away” into STO.
Another tour premier for me of “Cover Me” complete with Steve and Bruce trading guitar solos into album mate “Darlington County”. The duo from “Born in the USA” made me appreciate the album a bit more, clearly this was the shark-jumping phase of Bruce’s career, selling 9 billion copies and selling out football stadiums 3-4 nights a week, so I’ve been dismissive of the album in my mind, but when you hear the songs live, you realize that it truly was a magnificent piece of work.
Working the audience part 2: During “Waiting on a Sunny Day” the young girl that Bruce brought on stage to sing the chorus, had a tremendous voice and had Bruce bowing down to her in respect and finishing by bellowing “Vancouver’s Got Talent”.
Tour premiere #3 for me the party rock classic “Raise Your Hand” into the traditonal 3-pack to close the main set of “The Rising”, “Badlands” and “Land of Hope and Dreams”.
Encore time, and it opened with a request, “Racing in the Street” a good 10-12 minute version of it, with Roy shining and Max shining brightly. Encore #2 was a bit odd, “Radio Nowhere” which I happen to really like, but was out of place in the encores, and felt very flat, but that was fixed by the crowd-pleasing, house lights up “Born to Run” into “Dancing in the Dark” which featured working the audience moment #3. Bruce always brings someone up to dance with him, usually a younger woman, last night he ventured into the stands and brought out by hand an 80 year old woman….which drove everyone nuts. And then audience working moment #4 (and tour premiere #4 for me) “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and if you have never heard this performed by the E Street Band, you are missing a holiday classic, but Bruce brought up a man in full Santa costume and the dude dueted on vocals the entire song with Bruce, even though he couldn’t sing a lick, only at a Springsteen show. And then of course “10th Avenue” to close.
Off to explore Vancouver, and then on to Portland for stop #16 on the LBWBT.