Oakland, Ca. 12/4/12: Guitar Heroes

A show at home, well almost home. Anaheim, Ca., part of the LA market, but in Orange County and what was a 45 minute trip home, was a 3:15 trip down, bearly getting to my seats in time. General Manager of the Honda Center (formerly the Pond) you will be be receiving a tersely worded letter from me. Horrible how you run that place.

On to the good stuff, for whatever reason, Bruce has never put on anything less than a spectacular show in Los Angeles, so I went in with a great expectation, and Bruce and the band met them, in spades.

The tone was set at the very moment they took the stage, as standing between Bruce and Steven was guitar virtuoso, Tom Morello. A regular contributor to the LA shows but opening the show was new, and they blasted thru the opener which for the 3rd straight show was “Land of Hope & Dreams” which while there are only 2 shows left to the tour, now feels like it has settled in to the opening slot. Next up, was guitars, guitars and more guitars, as the band went seamlessly into a pair of Darkness on the Edge of Town classics (and both somewhat live rarities) “Adam Raised a Cain” and “Streets A Fire”. While they are both rare, this was back to back for “Adam” and third out of the last 6 shows for me for it, and “Streets” was third of the last five I’ve seen…but they are welcome anytime.

From there a fairly standard: “Hungry Heart”,  “We Take Care of Our Own”, “Wrecking Ball”, “Death to My Hometown”, “My City of Ruins”, and “Spiritis in the Night”. I say fairly standard, except Morello joined the band for “Death” and managed to take the ferocity of that tune up about 5 notches. And let’s not forget in the “really old song slot” “E Street Shuffle”.  And then the fun began.

First two requests,  a tour premier and a solo acoustic version of “Long Time Coming” off of “Devils & Dust”, followed by a tour premier for me of “Reason to Believe” a regular from the “Magic” tour and great to hear again, and then Morello again for “My Confession”. Morello’s work on this almost throwaway song from “Wrecking Ball” takes this to great heights and makes it a fantastic live numbers, and like we hadn’t had enough great guitar work, bang, “Darkness on the Edge of Town”. Then let’s get a little louder and intense, punk-rock/Orange County legend, Mike Ness the front man of  Social Distortion joined the band for a great version of his classic “Bad, Bad, Love” a reprise of a 2009 Sports Arena moment, and then to show they the E Street Band possesses one hell of an axman themselves,  they launched into “Because the Night” with the great Nils Lofgren finishing it off with his trademark  whirling dervish solo. And then a raucous “Darlington County”.

Now throw in “Shackled & Drawn” with Morello, “Waiting on A Sunny Day” and “Raise Your Hand” and the fever pitch was holding steady and then here comes Morello one more time for the customary LA performance of “The Ghost of Tom Joad” where he delivers his guitar solo, which can only be described as “unwordly”. It doesn’t seem possible that a human can do on a guitar what Morello can. It has to be seen to understand. Youtube it. “Ghost” went right into “Badlands” with Morello sharing a mic with Steve and adding his guitar, and then the main set closed with “Thunder Road”.

Encores: It took me 18 shows, but finally, I was there for “Jungleland”, and yes it is true Jake Clemons plays Uncle Clarence’s sax solo perfectly, almost like Clarence is guiding his thru it, Steve’s solo, Bruce’s guttural cries in singing the song, it is as great as it always was….was like seeing an old friend after a long absence. From there the typical encore closing of late, “Born to Run”, “Dancing in the Dark”, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “10th Avenue Freeze-out”

28 songs, 3:25 minutes, this one was an A+ show. On to Phoenix (well Glendale) for the 2012 closing of the Wrecking Ball Tour.

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