Friday, March 21, 2014
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band AAMI Park Melbourne 16 February 2014
In the break between Hunters & Collectors and the start of the main set one couldn’t help speculating about the possibility of another album show this time around.
As I pointed out to the knowledgeable gent on my left I could have done without Born in the USA the previous night, largely on the basis that everything on the album was so well known. Those considerations might not apply to another album, and if we were going to run through another album the question was which one.
It was, I suspected, a no-brainer. Greetings from Asbury Park was possible, with most tracks appearing in the set lists reasonably regularly. Ditto for The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle. Both possible, but not that likely.
Born to Run or Darkness at the Edge of Town would, on the other hand, be highly likely.
Discount The River, unless they decided to do it in two parts, Nebraska probably didn’t fit into the E Street Band setting, we’d already had Born in the USA and everything after that was, I suspected, able to be ruled out on some basis or other.
The eventual consensus was that if it was going to happen it would have to be a classic single album and, really there were only three of them. So it was a case of wait and see…
And here’s what we got:
Born in the USA, Badlands, Lucky Town, Roulette, Growin' Up, Wrecking Ball, Death to my Hometown, High Hopes, Just Like Fire Would, Lost in the Flood, Spirit in the Night
Born to Run in sequence: Thunder Road, Tenth Avenue Freezeout, Night, Backstreets, Born to Run, She's the One, Meeting across the River, Jungleland
Heaven's Wall, Waitin' on a Sunny Day, The Rising, The Ghost of Tom Joad, Land of Hopes and Dreams
Encore: We are Alive, Ramrod, Bobby Jean, Dancing in the Dark, Twist and Shout, This Hard Land (solo acoustic)
What we didn’t get was an official download. From what I can gather there were issues with the actual recording, which is interesting because everything sounded fine from where I was up in the nosebleeds. Better, on the run through Born to Run than it was through the early part of Born in the USA the night before. Strange.
So where with the other shows I’ve been able to sit back and relive the evening over and over, tapping away as the sound washes over, with nothing to cue the memories, the memories haven’t been coming.
Bruce hit the stage a little after everyone else, remarked he was late for my own show and the band kicked into Born In The USA and Badlands before hauling out Lucky Town and Roulette. That, from where I was sitting, looked to be pretty standard operating procedure. Two to kick things off, two for the hard core fans. Fine.
Bruce didn’t actually pull up a pew as Roy Bittan’s piano picked out the introduction to Growing Up, but he did hunker down in story-teller mode with a tale about a grandmother and a toddler who was allowed to sit up watching TV until the wee hours. Watching through The Late Show into The Late Late Show and on to The Late Late Late Show, which preceded a Superman cartoon around three in the morning.
These nocturnal habits, of course, weren’t conducive to standard sleep patterns and Bruce is able to attribute his lack of academic sense to Grandma’s failure to ensure he got to bed at a reasonable hour, Fortunately, of course, he ended up in a job that allows him to go to bed at three in the morning and get up at three in the afternoon.
So there you are. It’s all Grandma’s fault.
From there I couldn’t help feeling Wrecking Ball and Death To My Hometown had echoes of the sign request that delivered Factory the night before. High Hopes and Just Like Fire Would seem to turn up as a pigeon pair around this stage of proceedings, and there they were again. Must be obligatory to play something from the new album around here, and these two are the ones that work best.
But after that dash of predictability, if that’s what it was, you might need to change things around a bit. A sign request delivered Lost In The Flood and another monologue, this time about getting a bit in the late fifties and early sixties, frozen over lakes, parked cars and the Jersey Devil lead nicely into a swaggering Spirit In The Night.
More or less as anticipated, that led nicely into a run through the Born to Run album, pretty much a no-brainer after Born in the USA the night before. Actually, I enjoyed this one better than the previous one. Slightly more obscure songs in some places, and Bruce was going to need something other than Thunder Road, Tenth Avenue Freezeout and Born To Run in the run home at the end of the show. We were almost certain to get two out of those three anyway, so it was handy to knock them over a little early.
But the full band Thunder Road rocked, Freeze-out was as good as it always is, and it’s always excellent. It was good to hear Night and Backstreets was one of the highlights of the night.
There’s probably nothing you can say about Born To Run that hasn’t been said before, while She’s The One rocked its Bo Diddley beat as hard as nails. From there a stately Meeting Across The River and a stunning Jungleland demonstrated one of the good things about a non-BitUSA album show.
You get a couple of relative rarities. Pity there’s no official recording to remind me of the highlights.
And with the album out of the way it was time to shape things up for the run home and Heaven’s Wall definitely got that particular party started. We’d missed Waitin’ on a Sunny Day, with the seemingly obligatory haul up a kid to sing the chorus bit, and you can’t expect to get lucky two nights in a row. But at least it was two kids this time. Maybe he was making up for missing it the night before.
But this is more or less set piece time, and while The Rising, The Ghost of Tom Joad and Land of Hope and Dreams certainly qualify in that department you can’t knock the intensity in the performance, particularly on Tom Joad, where the live environment provides an intensity at this stage of proceedings that you can’t turn on and off in the studio.
All those critics who’ve complained about the album version missing something need look no further than that last sentence. You might take exception to Tom Morello’s guitar contortions too, but that hasn’t happened to me. Yet. After seven times. In fact, to be honest, I till rate it as a highlight.
And Land of Hope and Dreams was a fine way to round off the main set.
Now, from what I could gather, the standard practice through the rest of the tour had been to keep the thing rolling through to a single solo acoustic encore right at the end, but here, with two key agents in the formula delivered earlier, we got an actual encore break, during which, according to one report I saw, Bruce was handed a note to say the curfew kicked in in ten minutes.
Acoustic guitar in hand We Are Alive was dedicated to the spirits of the recently departed Nelson Mandela and Pete Seeger. With that attended to it was time to get the party started and there’s no doubt Ramrod, Bobby Jean, Dancing in the Dark and Twist and Shout did that.
The people around me in the nose bleeds were starting to move by this time, and the lateness of the hour suggested it might be an idea to follow suit, but there was no way I was actually leaving the scene until the last notes had been played and sung.
I was pretty close to the exit as Twist and Shout drew to a triumphant conclusion, but there were empty seats nearby, which proved very handy when it came to catching a threadbare and absolutely heartfelt reading of This Hard Land, another of the night’s highlights.
And again, we’re left bemoaning the absence of the official recording. There’s a torrent out there somewhere though. We’ll have to wait and see how the bandwidth thing pans out over the rest of the billing period.
Born in the USA
Death to my Hometown
Just Like Fire Would
Lost in the Flood
Spirit in the Night
Born to Run in sequence:
Tenth Avenue Freezeout
Born to Run
She's the One
Meeting across the River
Wait in' on a Sunny Day
The Ghost of Tom Joad
Land of Hopes and Dreams
We are Alive
Dancing in the Dark
Twist and Shout
This Hard Land (solo acoustic)