I decided that I am no longer going to rate the shows, seriously they all range from very good to great. Some stats, tonight was the shortest of the 3 Southern Australian shows, another 30 songs tonight, clocking in at an “abbreviated 2:55”, 13 songs in this show that weren’t played in Melbourne, giving me a total of 62 songs over the 3 shows, not too shabby.
Bruce is known to pay homage to the cities/countries he plays in, tonight’s opener did just that with a great cover of the 1966 classic “Friday on My Mind” from the Easybeats an Aussie band. It was awesome, with Bruce stalking the lip of the stage and almost growling the words, the arena here in Sydney was on fire from that moment on. Also nice to be indoors after 2 shows in a soccer stadium. The opener was followed perfectly with “Out in the Street” whose closing line of the 2nd verse is “I’ve already got Friday on my mind”. From what I can research, this was the first time Bruce ever played “Friday on My Mind”. Selection #3 was “Cadillac Ranch”, also a first time for this week, and that raised my total to 52 songs and we had hours to go!
The next mini-set was “High Hopes” which I hope becomes an E Street Standard, great playing by percussionist Edward Bradley with Bruce and Tom Morello, into “Just Like Fire Would”, and then a story leading into “Spirit in the Nights” Bruce again on the lip of the stage, sitting and detailing his computerized toilet in his fancy hotel here in Sydney. Concluding with when he had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night the toilet opened automatically and Bruce could hear it saying, “can you hear the spirit”?
From there came Bruce’s thank you to Sydney for having him back and as a thank you they would play “Darkness on the Edge of Town” in its entirety. Have to say that after having “Born in the USA” and “Born to Run” in Melbourne, this was expected by me, but still thrilling. The highlights of the 11 song album ( in order: Badlands, Adam Raised a Cain, Something in the Night, Candy’s Room, Racing in the Street, The Promised Land, Factory, Streets A Fire, Prove it All Night and Darkness) were “Adam Raised A Cain” which is just so damn powerful live and with the 4 guitarists all contributing, just ear-shattering live, with Bruce himself bringing it home with a blistering solo. “Racing in the Street” which is an entirely different animal live than it is recorded, with a grand finale that lasts minutes and is the masterpiece for “The Professor” Roy Bittan, as his piano playing is mesmerizing on this with Bruce on guitar and Max on drums combining to make this live performance a highlight as always. Finally the penultimate song of the album “Prove it All Night” while not the ’78 live version, it is still incredible, with a Bruce solo and an incendiary, whirling dervish solo by the great Nils Lofgren.
Should note that tonight has a sad note to it, which changed the arrangement of the band. Jake Clemons wasn’t with the band as his father, Clarence’s brother, passed away. This resulted in E Street horn sax player, and former Asbury Juke, Ed Manion, stepping up big time to take all of the famous sax solos and doing it expertly.
After “Darkness” the main set was filled out by “Darlington County” with a great sharing of center stage and solo with Bruce by Suzy Tyrell on violin. “Shackled & Drawn”, and “Waiting on a Sunny Day (which I had left out of Sunday’s setlist, maybe wishful thinking). Of course an out of this world “Ghost of Tom Joad” with Morello delivering his alien guitar playing traits, I will never tire of hearing this one live, and the set closer of “Land of Hope and Dreams”.
Encore opened with another homage to Australian music with a phenomenal cover version of INXS’ “Don’t Change”, here’s a little taste of it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVSZCQanLOU. Pretty standard band encores from there, “Born to Run”, “Dancing in the Dark” which had about 1/2 of Sydney on stage dancing with the band at one point, “10th Avenue Freeze Out” and “Shout”. The two solo finales were both new, first Bruce took a request sign and for a young mans birthday wish played “Surprise, Surprise” on guitar, and then for what I believe is the first time on this tour, on organ, a great version of “Dream Baby Dream”. And with that my Australian Bruce tour comes to an end. Tonight was special as the playing of “Darkness” from 1978, takes me back to my favorite summer of my life, the summer that cemented this relationship I have with Mr. Springsteen. It was that summer, that along with friends, Billy, Stu, Mark and others we saw Bruce wherever and whenever we could, it was great moments at the age of 21 that I will never forget, 4 nights in MSG in the first row each night, traveling to Philly, Hartford, it was the best summer of my life with Bruce as the musical score for the entire 90 days. Here I am 35+ years later, turning 57 today, probably still trying to recapture it, and doing a damn good job of trying.
A special thanks to my wonderful wife Julianne LaMarche who indulges this obsession and was a great trooper taking in 3 shows in 5 nights. Thank you honey. Now off to the bar for some E Street stalking as I have learned the band is staying in the same hotel!
Next stop Cincinnati on April 8th.