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.