Springsteen rocks it like a Boss
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Thursday, March 14.
Bruce Springsteen, Tom Morello and the E Street Band had the Brisbane Entertainment Centre crowd eating out of their hands. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
Sometimes a show takes the breath out of your lungs and leaves you speechless. In awe. Unsure how to articulate what you just witnessed.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band is one such show.
This is a man at the top of his game, defying his 63 years and displaying the energy of a man one third his age.
Bruce Springsteen rocks Brisbane
Bruce Springsteen performs at the Brisbane Entertainment centre. 14th of March 2013. Photo: Harrison Saragossi Photo: Harrison Saragossi
Springsteen opens with We Take Care of Our Own, a song familiar to anybody who watched Barack Obama's reelection campaign.
But the second song takes us far from the American campaign trail and much closer to home – a cover of The Saints' Just Like Fire Would. It's a nice touch for the Brisbane crowd.
While keen to give a nod to his host city's musical history, Springsteen's also never far from his own roots.
Dancing in the Dark: Georgia and Nada Smith. Nada shared a moment on stage with Bruce Springsteen. Photo: Cameron Atfield
You can imagine a young Springsteen in his formative years on the Jersey shore, with his mates carefully studying the greats – Sam & Dave and James Brown get a mention – to learn how to capture an audience. To put on a show.
Boy did they take note. And, in return, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band put on a master class of their own. A master class in rock 'n' roll, folk and a whole lot of brass-infused soul.
Springsteen's big on sentiment. It's The Boss's first show in Brisbane since 2003, and the first Australian tour without Clarence Clemons, whose presence looms large throughout.
“Are we missing anybody?” Springsteen asks after an E Street Band roll call during My City in Ruins.
“Yes. Yes we are.”
But while Clarence is gone, Clemons is not – his nephew Jake is on the sax and cuts an uncanny likeness to his uncle in both sight and sound.
Another E Streeter gone is former Sopranos star Steven Van Zandt, in Norway filming Lilyhammer (Springsteen gives an impromptu, animated geography lesson at this point demonstrating the spherical nature of Earth and the relative positions of Australia and Norway – I only wish my geography teacher was so cool).
But in his place tonight is Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello. And those who witness him tonight will be speaking about it for decades.
Morello is sublime; just sublime. And those who bear witness to his amazing solo in The Ghost of Tom Joad – a track, incidentally, that was covered by RATM – will be raving about it in much the same way as those who saw Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock.
I've never seen anything like it.
Nor have I seen an artist interact with a crowd in the way Springsteen does.
It's a relationship built on mutual trust. Springsteen spends an incredible amount of time in the audience with his fans – epic crowd surfing during Hungry Heart, dancing on the floor (though not in the dark) with them, sharing the microphone with them and, seemingly, shaking hands with a healthy percentage of the 12,000-strong Brisbane Entertainment Centre crowd.
With that sort of interaction, we all know what's coming. And it happens deep into the encore.
It's been 29 years since a young Courtney Cox joined Springsteen on stage in the Dancing in the Dark film-clip.
Nearly three decades on, it's Nada Smith's turn, thanks to her daughter's hand-written sign: “Bruce please dance with my Mum”.
Springsteen is an accommodating chap, so it's not surprising when he takes young Georgia Smith up on her offer.
It's clear there's no barrier. He's one of us. We're one of them.
And, outside the venue after nearly 3½ hours of relentless Springsteen brilliance, Nada Smith is floating on air.
“Am I dreaming? Did that really happen?” she asks.
It's a common question around the happily dazed throngs around the Entertainment Centre tonight.
SETLIST: We Take Care of Our Own; Just Like Fire Would; Wrecking Ball; Badlands; Death to My Hometown; Hungry Heart; My City of Ruins; Spirit in the Night; The E Street Shuffle; Jack of All Trades; Murder Incorporated; Johnny 99; Because the Night; She's the One; Shackled and Drawn; Waitin' on a Sunny Day; Apollo Medley; The Rising; The Ghost of Tom Joad; Thunder Road. Encore: We Are Alive; Born to Run; Glory Days; Dancing in the Dark; Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.
Remaining tour dates:
- March 16: Brisbane Entertainment Centre
- March 18: Allphones Arena, Sydney
- March 20: Allphones Arena, Sydney
- March 22: Allphones Arena, Sydney
- March 24: Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
- March 26: Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
- March 27: Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
- March 30: Hanging Rock, Macedon
- March 31: Hanging Rock, Macedon