The final U.S. show of the 2012 Wrecking Ball tour (one show left in Mexico City, this weekend), figured I had to be there, if case there were any “last show surprises”. And there were.
But first I need to digress, Phoenix/Arizona sucks, what to expect for the home of Sheriff Joe, and the state that wouldn’t vote MLK day a holiday, and John McCain. As you will read momentarily, tonight’s list was spectacular, it would have driven any other city into a frenzy, but not Phoenix. Nope they were applauding, but the energy level was the lowest I’ve seen at any Bruce show ever. Tood bad Phoenix, you probably don’t realize what a special show you witnessed tonight.
Right off the bat, Bruce opened the festivities with an acoustic solo version of “Surprise, Surprise” off of “Working on a Dream”. Very rarely played live, maybe twice ever before tonight, and certainly a tour premiere for me. And it continued with the band joining for “No Surrender” and then revving it up with a Lonnie tour premiere of “I’m a Rocker” and then into the typical #4 song of the set, “Hungry Heart”. I figured we’d now go into the standard “Wrecking Ball” trio and “My City”, but it wasn’t to me….things broke wide open here. Bruce called out to Roy and spotlight hit the Professor and the unmistakable opening to the legendary ’78 version of “Prove it All Night”, which had first Bruce wailing on guitar, then Max pounding away on the drums, and then Nils taking his nightly whirling dervish guitar solo to close out the amazing number, then another classic, “Trapped” and then—they had to know I was there for my 19th show, and hadn’t heard this song in the first 18 shows, the classic (and rarely played) “Lost in the Flood”. For those of you who don’t know this, before Jungleland, before Backstreets, before Incident on 57th Street, there was “Lost”, Bruce’s first anthem….and just killer live. Getting “Jungleland” on Wednesday and “Lost” tonight, made this all worth it. So we’re 7 songs in, and I’ve already had 3 personal tour premiere and the ’78 “Prove it”, a great night already, despite the Phoenixians. Then the standard 4 pack of “We Take of Our Own”, “Wrecking Ball”, “Death to My Hometown”, and “My City of Ruins” and then request time.
Another personal tour premiere, this one “Be True” and then Bruce rewarded an extremely well-made request sign, this one with electronics and broke out “Light of Day”, which had Bruce playing a blistering lead and Max being absolutely a beast on the drums. And from here it slowed a bit (and probably caused this NOT to become one of my all-time favorite shows) with “Darlington County”, “Shackled & Drawn” and “Waiting on a Sunny Day”. A bit of a perking up came from the return of “The Apollo Medley” which was in honor of, and dedicated to the legendary Sam Moore of Sam & Dave, who is a Phoenix native and was in the house. Sam has appeared with Bruce many times and Bruce had credited him with being the inspiration for many of his stage stylings. The song enabled Bruce to tell his story of being influenced by the great soul singers of the 60’s, and call the E Street Band a “rock and soul” band, which is dead-on, especially now with the horns and the singers. I thought this would lead into some great surprises, but we got typical show closers, “The Rising” and “Thunder Road”. Not that “Thunder Road” is ever typical, one of the great songs ever, but not a surprise. What was a surprise on this last night of the tour, was the absence of “Land of Hope and Dreams”, I am pretty certain this was the first show of all the legs, not to feature it. Maybe Bruce realized that Phoenix and Arizone is anything but.
And then the encores, the final four songs were the standard, “Born to Run”, “Dancing in the Dark”, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “10th Avenue Freeze-Out”, but it was the opening encore that was staggering, amazing, stupendous, the band left the stage, Bruce waved Roy off of the piano and sat now for a solo piano turn, And what a turn it was, “Incident on 57th Street”, breathtaking, I’ve seen it full band before, but this was special, and this is why people like myself go to as many shows as we can get to. This was Bruce at his finest. Just tremendous.
Fun night, made some new friends on the flight over, fun hanging with Peter and his Phoenix friends, a great end to a great 8 months and change run. It was worth every penny. Hope many of you found this entertaining, and maybe informative.
The good news is that there are definitely shows in 2013, with Europe and Austraila already being announced, and there will certainly be another US leg(s).
In the meantime, next week we have the Graham Parker & The Rumour reunion show in Los Angeles and then off to NY for the reunion after 40 years of the legendary “Rascals”.