Friday, December 10, 2010

Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band - July 26, 2003

Show 5 of 6

Night five of my six night run with Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band at Giants Stadium found some set changes, unexpected gifts, and a pretty solid setlist overall. While this was one of the shortest performances I witnessed during this run, it made up for the lack of quantity with plenty of quality. It never ceases to amaze me how brilliant a performer Bruce Springsteen can be.

My friend Kerry was returning to New Jersey after many years of living out west. When I found out that she was coming home around the same time Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band were performing at Giants Stadium, well, I had to get us tickets. Kerry and I attended one of the best Springsteen concerts I ever saw back in 1993, and I knew what a huge fan she was. What would be a better way to say “welcome back” to a dear old friend other than to get tickets for one of the shows?

Our concert fell on a Saturday, which meant no work that day. We got to the parking lot early and settled in. A little grilling, a little drinking, and a whole lot of fun was what we were looking for. It’s also what we had. We reminisced about the 93 concert, shocked by the fact that 10 years had gone by since then (and now you can add another 7). Where does the time go?

The band walked on stage to the usual Summer Wind backdrop and the humongous roar of the New Jersey crowd. It was Saturday night, it was summertime, and it was Bruce Springsteen, the future of rock and roll! The band lit into an opening number of Adam Raised A Cain and Kerry’s face lit up. I had mixed emotions. It’s not that I dislike Adam Raised A Cain, because I don’t. I think it’s a fantastic song; it’s just not one of my favorites. I was hoping for more of a rarity to open the show, but that would have to wait until August.

Standards came next in The Rising and Lonesome Day. A blistering The Ties That Bind followed by a very smooth Atlantic City had the night off and running. Good evening New Jersey! Saturday night in The Garden State! Bruce appeared to be happy about Saturday night, but something about his performance suggested otherwise. He was less playful that evening, more focused. It almost seemed that he came on that night to do his job as an entertainer, instead of allowing himself to have fun. The performance was still stellar, but the seriousness was a different approach that I had not witnessed so far during that tour.

Rarities included Darlington County, Two Hearts, and My Hometown. The latter of those songs holds a very special place in my heart, so to hear it live was an enormous treat. When I was 18 and living next door to my dad in Florida, he used to sometimes blast that song all night. Over and over and over again Dad would play My Hometown and think about New Jersey. He had left the state many years prior and was not planning to return. However, he missed his hometown and Bruce’s song would transport him back there, albeit for a few minutes at a time.

The first encore opened with an amazing version of Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out that had the whole stadium on their feet and screaming as loud as they could. Forever a classic, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out was so much fun to dance along to. The rest of the encore was pretty standard for that summer run and left me slightly befuddled. I wouldn’t say that it was a bad performance, but it was definitely not a strong Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band performance. As previously mentioned, the Boss had a certain tone to him that evening. He was serious. He had work to do and he wanted to do it and move on. With that being said, even serious Bruce is a darned good concert. Out of the 6 nights that I saw the band that summer, this was by far the weakest of the nights. That doesn’t make it a bad show, just below expectations. And since Bruce always sets the bar sky high, expectations are way above average to begin with. I wouldn’t see the band perform for another month, but when I did, they would make up for this performance in more ways than I could imagine and take future expectations to an even higher level of greatness.

Adam Raised A Cain
The Rising
Lonesome Day
The Ties That Bind
Atlantic City
Empty Sky
Waitin’ On A Sunny Day
Darlington County
Worlds Apart
Two Hearts
No Surrender
Mary’s Place
My Hometown
Into The Fire
The Promised Land
First Encore
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
Glory Days
Born To Run
Second Encore
My City Of Ruins
Land Of Hopes And Dreams
Dancing In The Dark

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