Bruce Springsteen at Hanging Rock. Photo: Paul Jeffers
Saturday 30 March
Grinning from ear to ear and radiating near superhuman energy, Bruce Springsteen played the penultimate show of his blockbuster Wrecking Ball tour of Australia under ominous grey skies at Hanging Rock last night.
A flurry of rain saw plastic ponchos unfurled shortly after 3pm but the night steadily cleared and 17,000 fans generated their own heat as the air temperature sank.
The proliferation of custom printed t-shirts underscored the historic nature of the occasion. One 53-year-old fan from Melbourne had printed her own personal Springsteen communion dates, from Melbourne Showgrounds 1985 via Giants Stadium New Jersey to here and now.
"Beer, bourbon, Barnesy and the Boss," read another homemade t-shirt in a cosy edition of two.
Jimmy Barnes' supporting bracket of solo and Cold Chisel classics was loud and well received as dusk approached but there was more than a stretch of daylight between Working Class Man and the main event.
Badlands tore a hole in the pink sky as the Boss led his 16-piece wall of sound into the sunset. Prove It All Night followed without pause for breath. The E Street Band was in devastating form as Nils Lofgren spun his first explosive guitar solo.
A thunderous trifecta from the new album, We Take Care of Our Own, Wrecking Ball and Death To My Home Town, proved Springsteen's power among rock's most passionate and eloquent writers undimmed by the decades.
But it was his magic as showman that captivated every soul on site. His unfathomable gift for reaching deep into the throng to involve every far-flung fan defied the laws of space from crash barriers to the near-empty bars on the hill.
By the seventh song, Hungry Heart, he was crowd surfing in the pit, an act that managed to touch all 17,000 fans, whether or not they were close enough to slap a hand on his sweat- soaked black shirt.
Springsteen and his Band have performed to more than 135,000 fans over nine dates since the tour, his first here in almost 10 years, kicked off on Brisbane on March 14.
A second Hanging Rock concert scheduled for today, his last Australian date for 2013, has completely sold out.
The spectacular outdoor venue an hour's drive northwest of Melbourne has been a massive popular success since Leonard Cohen inaugurated the site in 2010. Rod Stewart followed in 2012.
The Springsteen dates officially conclude the original three-concert trial arranged between Macedon Shire Council and Michael Gudunski's Frontier Touring organisation.
But if MC Gudinski's enthusiasm was any indication, rock fans will be back. "We've just begun," he said.