Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band - August 9, 1999

Less than a month after my opening night in New Jersey fiasco, I was back at the Continental Airlines Arena for my second round of Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band. This was the bands 10th show out of a scheduled 12 in New Jersey during their reunion world tour supporting Tracks.

On that Monday night I was feeling alive, much better than the last time I saw them, and I was ready for a wonderful night of music and memories. My wife (at the time) and I were anxious to make up for what was missed the last time around.

Our seats were good ones, not as good as the July 15th show, but still pretty close to the stage, albeit behind the stage. We were dead center, 4 rows back, behind the stage, with a perfect view of the mighty Max Weinberg and his amazing drum kit.

The lights went dark, the crowd went nuts, and the opening notes of Darkness on the Edge of Town filled the arena. Goosebumps covered my arms. I was seeing Bruce for the 4th time and I was ecstatic.

The Ties That Bind was the second song up and everyone was on their feet for that one. The band delivered it note perfect, and it was an unexpected treat to my ears. I fell in love with the song at that moment and it has since become one of my favorite Springsteen rockers. The power behind that tune is mesmerizing and awe inspiring.

The highlight of the night came when the band pulled out Frankie, a song they had not performed live in over 20 years. I had gotten into the song through Tracks, but the live performance really made me embrace it in a way I never had before. I don’t know if Bruce has played this one live since, but I would love to hear it again at any show he does. The magic behind Frankie is the beauty of the song. A slow crooner with excellent piano work by Roy Bittain, quality vocals by Bruce and brilliant saxophone work by the Big Man.

In typical fashion, Bruce worked the crowd all night long. He commanded the fans to get on their feet, sing, dance, and have a good time. He was out to give us more than our money’s worth, and he delivered. Flawless execution of song after song, incredible audience interaction, and the ability to have the crowd do whatever he asked of them is what makes him the master band leader.

Whether it be demanding louder chants during the opening notes of Tenth Avenue Freeze-out, or giving it his all during Light of Day, or pulling out the rare beauties like Spirit in the Night or Frankie, each Springsteen concert is a decidedly different event. One could attend 15 different performances of the same tour and never see the same concert. Those who attend Bruce live for the first time are instant, life-long fans. The power of his performance is unprecedented and it showed, once again, on that hot summer night in 1999.

By the end of the night, Bruce and the band had left us breathless, drained, and still wanting more. It was an amazing night of memories and entertainment, but it was nothing compared to what I would experience two nights later, when I would see him for the final time in 1999.

Darkness on the Edge of Town
The Ties That Bind
Prove It All Night
Two Hearts
Darlington County
Mansion on the Hill
The River
Murder Inc.
Out In the Street
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Working on the Highway
The Ghost of Tom Joad
Light of Day
Spirit in the Night
Bobby Jean
Born To Run
Thunder Road
If I Should Fall Behind
Land of Hopes and Dreams

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