Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band - June 26, 2000

During the 1999/2000 Tracks/Reunion tour, I had the pleasure of seeing Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band four times. Three of those times were during their unprecedented 15-night sold out stand during the summer of 1999 in New Jersey. The fourth and last time I saw them for that tour was at the mecca of all arenas, Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Bruce and the band had booked and sold out ten nights at Madison Square Garden and were in the midst of capturing the audio for every evening’s concert for what would eventually become the HBO Special and the double CD – Live In New York City. This concert was a special one for me as I was seeing KISS the next night and how often does someone get to see their two favorite performers two nights in a row?

Attending this show with me was the same group that I rang in the Millennium with at this very same venue seeing Billy Joel; Nancy, my wife (at the time) and our friends Jackie and Mike. Our seats were decent, close to the stage and not too high up, so we had a good view for the show. I don’t recall who purchased the tickets, but I do remember that Mike drove us to the Garden and that was all right by me.

In typical Bruce fashion, there was no opening act, just Mr. Springsteen and his band for hours. A Bruce Springsteen concert is a real event. This concert was somewhere in the middle of their ten night stand, either show 5 or 6. The band took the stage to the approving roar of the crowd and launched into a brand new track that had just started being performed during those Garden shows, Another Thin Line. A hard rocker with a heavy drum beat and a fast guitar, it was a great song and grabbed my attention right away. I thought that it would be released on the live album or their next studio album, but Another Thin Line has not been heard from since. Like Rendevouz many years before it, this song has been sitting, waiting to see its release. That’s why I’m hopeful for a Tracks II.

Prove It All Night came next and the classic properly kick started the evening. This was followed by a stunning version of For You, which was a big surprise to me. It was the first and only time I saw it performed live and I loved every moment of it. Mike and I sang along as loud as we could, both being big fans of the real early Springsteen. It was apparent that some people around us were not as well versed in the classic Bruce, because they did not know the song, or did not care for it.

The night continued with two more classics in the form of Two Hearts and Downbound Train. Mansion On The Hill received the usual response of bathroom break and then a rare occurrence took place, something I don’t believe I ever witnessed at a Springsteen concert before.

Earlier that year, in New York city, there was a killing of an innocent man by New York City cops. Amadou Diallo. Diallo was shot 41 times while reaching for something in his pocket. The police thought he was going for a weapon, but Diallo did not have a weapon on him. Springsteen was inspired and wrote the song 41 Shots (American Skin). When the song started being performed at the MSG shows, some NYC cops were outraged and called for a boycott of the Springsteen shows if he insisted on playing the song. In typical Bruce fashion, he played it anyway. The song would also make its way onto the Live in New York City album. Many years after 9/11 the controversy of this song is long lost, but in the summer of 2000, this song brought a lot of anger and sensitivity out of a lot of people.

The song began and Bruce asked the audience for some quiet. The Garden settled down and as the band began singing “41 Shots,” there were boos. I had never heard boos at a Springsteen concert before. I heard some people actually yelling what a scumbag Bruce was for daring to play this song. I was shocked. I was proud of Bruce for his determination and playing the song (a great one by the way), but other people did not find it as meaningful.

When the song was over, the night resumed and the concert went on. Bruce had made his point by performing American Skin, those opposed had made their point by cursing him out while he played it. The night went on after that.

Classic and brilliant performances followed. The Promised Land, Badlands, Out In The Street, She’s The One, Racing In The Streets, Light of Day, hit after hit after hit were pounded out and performed with an unrelenting energy. The band sounded excellent and the songs were treasures to my ears. Another new song was played (the third of the evening) that would eventually make its way onto The Rising, Further On Up The Road. It was a decent song, but nowhere near as good as Another Thin Line.

The main set closed with a blistering Born To Run, and the encore of Night, Thunder Road, and the standard If I Should Fall Behind and Land of Hopes and Dreams was a great encore, and capped off a 5 song performance from the album Born To Run. That’s a good Springsteen concert in anyone’s book. Jackie, Mike, Nancy, and I all had a great time and we gave Springsteen and the band the ovation they deserved. A Monday night in New York city provided all the entertainment we could want, and they did an outstanding job of giving us a grand performance.

It would be another three years before I got to see the band live again, and when I did, it would be for six nights in an outdoor venue, but the one special night at the Garden would be held in my memory for a long, long time. The only time I ever witnessed Springsteen outside of New Jersey was a memorable and amazing event.

Set List
Another Thin Line
Prove It All Night
For You
Two Hearts
Downbound Train
Mansion On The Hill
American Skin (41 Shots)
The Promised Land
Murder Incorporated
Out In The Street
Tenth Avenue Freezeout
She’s The One
Born In The USA (acoustic)
Racing In The Streets
Light Of Day
Further On Up The Road
Bobby Jean
Born To Run
Thunder Road
If I Should Fall Behind
Land of Hopes and Dreams

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