With a headline like that, I need to cut right to the chase and explain. The front pit, which I was sitting right next to, had some women carrying a large banner all night saying “dance with us”, and were clearly all wearing the same t-shirt, which certainly caught Bruce’s eye. About two hours into the show, during Bruce’s venture into the audience, he asked them to come up and stage and to dance with him, and one, two, three, four, five, and then finally six women, all wearing Lesbians Heart Bruce tees joined him on stage for a raucous finish to Darlington….and Bruce thanking his lesbian fan club. Fans on the stage was the them of the show last night.
A dramatic open with “Land of Hope & Dreams” which had been the main set closer for the entire tour was a sign that tonight wasn’t going to be standard, and followed by “No Surrender” from there until the request section, was same as Vancouver: “Hungry Heart”, “We Take Care of Our Own”, “Wrecking Ball”, “Death to My Hometown” (which I decided is going to make an incredible acoustic solo version one day in the future), “My City of Ruins”, “Spirits in the Night” and then all hell breaks loose on the request section.
First Bruce spots a sign made up like a roulette wheel with different choices and brings it up and asks a woman from the audience to come up and spin it. After one aborted attempt where she didn’t like the choice (Pay Me My Money Down) she gives it a 2nd try and it lands on “Employee Appreciation Night- Little Steven’s choice” and with that Steven gleam in his eye Steve whispers to Bruce, and Bruce tells how Steven lobbied for this to be part of The River, thinking it is one of the stronger songs they’ve ever done, but never released…and the band goes into the great “Loose Ends”, and I must agree with Steven it is a great song. Next request, “Bruce for my 50th birthday, can I get “Growin’ Up” and so the great classic is blasted into, but with a special moment, as they head into the last segment of the song, Bruce calls for the birthday boy to join him on stage, and up he comes to duet with Bruce on the final stanza, and this dude was belting it out, with great stage presence. I can’t imagine a better birthday moment for anyone, this guy was in 21st heaven! Next Bruce launches into “Jack of All Trades” followed by another request of ” Seeds” which was a tour premiere for me for this ’09 tour standard and Bruce followed it with an audible of “Johnny 99” its ’09 companion piece. The troika of songs all with the central theme of despair of the working man were a powerful set together. With the energy level on high, the aforementioned “Darlington County” and “Shackled & Drawn” followed.
“Waiting on a Sunny Day” with two adolescent girls, who were awful and didn’t know the words singing the chorus. Then an unexpected and phenomenal version of “Drive All Night”. Typical closing of “The Rising” and “Badlands” (I’m getting tired of Badlands, is that possible) and then “Thunder Road” to close the main set.
Encore time: An incredible solo version, by request, of “If I Should Fall Behind” with Bruce pouring emotion into each and every word of the song, just beautiful. Lights up for “Born to Run”, back to requests for “Rosalita” with Bruce and Steve mugging it up front stage, “Dancing in the Dark” with what seemed like every woman in the pit joining the band onstage to dance with Bruce and Steve. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “10th Avenue Freeze-out” finish up the 3:10 minute show. Now off to Oakland.