Setlists: 2008

December 22 / Red Bank, NJ / Count Basie Theatre
Notes:
It's all cold down along the beach... the wind's whipping down the boardwalk... and it's freezing in Red Bank, where Bruce showed up tonight to bring some extra warmth to the newly renovated Count Basie Theatre. Just as in 2006, with no area holiday shows of his own, Springsteen chose to join in the festivities at Bobby Bandiera's Hope Concert. On the bill with Bandiera's Jersey Shore Rock-N-Soul Revue were Tim McLoone and the Shirleys, Brian Fallon, Nicole Atkins, Gary U.S. Bonds, Southside Johnny, and Jon Bon Jovi; Springsteen's surprise appearance came at the end of the night, as he joined the house band and a few of the bill-toppers for a few Christmas songs, two classic covers, and one of his own.

The night's format had crossover between artist's sets: Gary U.S. Bonds (after notably performing Bruce's "Action in the Street") was joined by Southside Johnny for "This Little Girl" to segue into Southside's set; Johnny was joined on his last song by Jon Bon Jovi for "This Time It's For Real." When it came to Bon Jovi's last song, out came Springsteen to back him up on "Run Run Rudolph," playing lead guitar and hollering backup on the final chorus.

"Happy holidays!" said Bruce, otherwise a man of few words tonight. (Leave the quotables to Southside: "I'd wish you a merry Christmas, but it would be out of character" and "I get so sentimental, I have to drink myself into oblivion.") Springsteen opened his own set with a doubleshot of his holiday B-sides, "Merry Christmas, Baby" followed by "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Southside -- "Mr. Grinch" -- joined in on the latter, and LaBamba came downstage to take Clarence's part, "you better be good for goodness' sake." (LaBamba and Mark Pender brought the horn section headcount to eight for Bruce's set.) After Bruce went it alone on "634-5789," Bon Jovi came back out to split the vocals on "Tenth Avenue." And a final encore, as Springsteen was joined by Southside, singing lead, and Bonds for a rousing "Havin' a Party." Weather outside: frightful. Inside: plenty hot.

Setlist:
Run, Run Rudolph (w/ JBJ)
Merry Christmas, Baby
Santa Claus is Coming to Town (w/ SSJ)
634-5789
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (w/ JBJ)
Havin' a Party (w/ SSJ, Bonds)

November 5 / New York, NY / Town Hall
Notes:
The day after the first Tuesday in November, and Bruce Springsteen was back on stage -- not for another political event, but to honor our soldiers and veterans. Springsteen returned for the second annual Stand Up for Heroes benefit, raising money for the Bob Woodruff Family Fund to help wounded soldiers. At the beginning of the night, Bob and Lee Woodruff stated that this was not intended as a celebration of the results of the election, and that set the tone for the evening. Without a word about the election, Springsteen performed three songs solo acoustic, joined by Patti Scialfa on vocals for "Thunder Road," and tipped his hat to the veterans in the audience at both the beginning and end of his set.

Acknowledging that he was the only musician on the bill for this New York Comedy Festival event, he got into the spirit of the show with a couple of jokes between songs. He said that the only jokes he knows are the ones the band tells him on the bus. And the two that he told -- variations on this one and this one -- were old enough that he probably heard them in the days when the band actually travelled by bus.

After his set, they once again auctioned off one of his motorcycles, a 1994 Harley Davidson Dyna Wide Glide, which Springsteen rode onto the stage with the engine running. After he threw in his leather jacket, it went for $70,000. The guitar Bruce played during his set was auctioned as well, bringing in an additional $50,000 for the cause.

Setlist:
The Promised Land
Thunder Road (with Patti Scialfa)
The Rising


November 2 / Cleveland, OH
Notes:
Four years later, nearly to the day, and there was Bruce, once again, on the stump in the battleground state of Ohio in the final hours of a presidential campaign, doing his best to get a Democratic president back in the Oval Office. With four more years of history to chew on, Springsteen has been energetic in his support for Barack Obama at a total now of four rallies in the past month, including Sunday afternoon's Change We Need rally in Cleveland. Yes, it was the same mall, in the shadow of the same, cold, neo-classical government buildings, where Springsteen joined John Kerry on November 1, 2004. This time around, though, more of an air of cautious confidence was evident as Bruce contributed his final set to the cause and introduced Obama's family to his own. "This time!" Bruce said, "This time!"

"I was here a while back, in 2004," Springsteen told the crowd, adding, "I'm glad they let me come back -- that they didn't think I might jinx them or something." A six-song set, similar to the Columbus set a couple weeks ago, added a welcomed duet with Patti on a new song: "Workin' on a Dream." The song has been recorded for the follow-up to Magic, which Springsteen has been working on this fall, an album expected to see release around the time of the Presidential Inauguration in January 2009.

The world premiere of "Workin' on a Dream," which Springsteen dedicated to Obama, followed "The Promised Land," "Youngstown," and "Thunder Road"  and preceded "This Land is Your Land.” On the Woody Guthrie classic, Bruce seemed to think the packed mall wasn’t singing up to their potential and laid a little hometown guilt on them by pointing out that Cleveland was one of the founding cities of rock 'n' roll, so, well, get singing!

His now-familiar stump speech PSA and percussive "Yes We Can" chants were well received as he closed with "The Rising" before introducing Barack Obama. This slightly truncated set may have had more to do with the fact that Obama was due in Cincinnati later in the evening and had just arrived from Columbus. 

Standing off stage along with Patti were their three children, all of whom joined Bruce onstage moments after he introduced Obama and his family to the crowd. It was a special moment as Barack's youngest daughter, Sasha, sheepishly shook Bruce's hand after her father introduced the two. For a minute, both families blended together on stage as Barack thanked Bruce for his support, Obama telling the crowd, "A rising is coming!"

Find video on CSpan.com. under "Recent Programs."
- photographs and reporting by Ed Hall, Jr.

Setlist:
The Promised Land
Youngstown
Thunder Road
Workin' on a Dream
This Land is Your Land
The Rising

October 16 / New York, NY / Hammerstein Ballroom
Notes:
At the "Change Rocks" benefit concert in support of Barack Obama, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel joined forces, the favorite sons of New Jersey and Long Island meeting in Manhattan to co-headline a show that also featured John Legend and India.Arie. Caroline Kennedy introduced the artists, and Bruce had a few more words before the performances began -- first of all, about the undercard: "Billy and I thought we could sing until we heard India and John rehearsing earlier. We're just pretending." As for the main event, Bruce described it as a historic meeting of New Jersey and Long Island, suggesting (as you might imagine from this old demi-rivalry) that it wasn't the smoothest of collaborations: "I like to rehearse, Billy doesn't." He went on to joke that the whole affair was somewhat Palin-esque: "A lot of last-minute cramming and confident presentation... faking it like you really know what you're doing, but you don’t. Hopefully no one will leave the room screaming like in rehearsals!"

Legend opened with his majestic solo piano take on U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)," and was soon joined by Bruce, Patti Scialfa, and India.Arie for his new song, "If You're Out There." After short sets from Legend and Arie, Bruce was back for a little acoustic set of his own, with solo readings of "The Promised Land" and "This Hard Land." In between he gave a version of his recent Vote for Change stump speech, saying that electing Obama was just the beginning to "taking back our country," and that it would take everyone "from Jersey, Long Island, and all points west" to rebuild this hard land. Joel followed with his band (which would be the backing band for the rest of the evening) for two of his own songs, "Miami 2017" and "Baby Grand."

The main event featured the Boss and the Piano Man together. Backed by Joel's band, along with Patti and E Street pianist Roy Bittan, Springsteen and Joel traded off songs from their deep catalogs, opening with "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" and closing with "River of Dreams." On "Tenth," Bruce sang, "They made that change uptown and the Piano Man joined the band..." and "when Jersey and Long Island bust this city in half!" Joel dedicated "Movin' Out" to George Bush and Dick Cheney. On "Thunder Road," simultaneous piano action from Billy ("I like this one!") and Roy. This was truly a blended set -- not only trading off songs, but trading off verses as they sang on each other's songs. Bruce was surprised that Billy didn't know "Spirit in the Night" -- he called out chords throughout -- but was really into his own verse on "New York State of Mind," a highlight of the night. Legend and Arie joined in as well, singing on "Spirit," "The Rising," and "Glory Days."


- photograph by William Borner

In the encore, one more Bruce tune: "Born to Run," Bruce leaping onto Billy's piano -- with permission! -- and the pair sharing a hug, Billy giving Bruce a kiss on the cheek. "People Get Ready" spotlighted all of the evening's performers, who then brought Barack Obama to the stage. Some inspiring words from Obama himself, who also offered plenty of praise for the night's artists:

I want to thank John, India, all the wonderful musicians, and especially the two giants -- Bruce and Billy -- that I grew up listening to, and whose songs give a voice to ordinary folks that go to work each day wondering how they are going to pay all their bills and afford healthcare.  They write inspiring songs about the problems of everyday heroes that have been ignored for far too long by those in Washington, and that is what this campaign has been all about. I thank them for bringing all of you here together tonight.  We have a lot of work to do in the next 18 days. So call your neighbors and e-mail all your friends and keep this great spirit from this room going until election day. One voice can inspire and change the mood of a room, can inspire and change the mood of a city, can inspire and change the mood of a state, can inspire and change the mood of a country, and can inspire and change the mood of the world.

Obama also revelaed that, backstage as they were listening to the show, he told his wife: "The reason I'm running for president is because I can't be Bruce Springsteen." The night closed with "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," Legend taking lead, with Obama and his wife Michelle dancing and clapping along.

Setlist:
If You're Out There (backing John Legend)
* * *
The Promised Land (solo acoustic)
This Hard Land (solo acoustic)
* * *
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (from here on with BJ and his band, Roy Bittan and Patti Scialfa)
Movin' Out (BS takes a verse)
Thunder Road (BJ takes a verse)
Matter of Trust (BS takes a verse)
Spirit in the Night (with JL and India Arie)
Allentown (BS takes a verse)
The Rising (with JL, IA and PS on backup vocals)
New York State of Mind (BS takes a verse and a solo)
Glory Days (all, with BJ on guitar)
River of Dreams (BS takes a verse; features a snippet of "A Hard Day's Night")

Encore:
Born to Run
People Get Ready (verses from BS, BJ, JL, IA)
[Obama takes the stage]
Signed, Sealed, Delivered


October 6 / Ypsilanti, MI / Oestrike Stadium
Notes: "Hello Ypsilanti!" Bruce greeted the crowd Monday afternoon at Eastern Michigan University's ballpark, "Glad to be here -- I don't know how to spell it, though." This was Springsteen's third Vote for Change rally for the Obama campaign in as many days. "I know our opponents have said they're abandoning their attempts at Michigan," Bruce said as he encouraged voter registration, "But I wouldn't be so sure about that! It's not a time to take anything for granted." Illustrating the point at the end of "No Surrender," he alluded to his efforts and hopes four years ago: "In 2004... I had the tequila lined up on the bar..." before concluding one more time, "No retreat, baby, no surrender."

An overcast day brightened up while Bruce was onstage, as the sun came shining through during "The Rising" as if on cue. His acoustic set expanded to eight songs this time, featuring the soldier's-eye-view of "Devils & Dust" and, just down I-94 from Detroit, a very rare "Used Cars." The mention of "Michigan Avenue" in the latter got a big cheer, Bruce adding that mentioning the name of the state you're in is "kind of a cheap applause-getter, but it works." He also got a few laughs of recognition as he recalled opening for Black Oak Arkansas in these parts way back when. Another inspiring speech, "Yes We Can" chants, "This Land is Your Land" to close, and a takeway message: "Let's take America back!"

See the Detroit News for a 360-degree view; Gary Graff's take here.


- photographs by Matt Orel (1) and Randall J. Mascharka (2, 3)

Setlist:
The Promised Land
The Ghost of Tom Joad
Thunder Road
Devils & Dust
Used Cars
No Surrender
The Rising
This Land is Your Land


October 5 / Columbus, OH / Ohio State University
Notes:
The second day of Springsteen's Vote for Change rallies brought him to Columbus, where he was introduced by Ohio native, Mercury astronaut, and former U.S. Senator John Glenn. Springsteen opened up with a bit of The Byrds' "Hey Mr. Spaceman" in his honor. After that, a seven-song acoustic set, as in Philly, beginning with "The Promised Land" and including a variation on his rousing speech from the previous day. One setlist change -- instead of "Does This Bus Stop," here in Ohio Bruce gave a nod to "Youngstown."

The event, which brought 10,000 to OSU's Main Oval, was "aimed at encouraging Obama supporters to take advantage of Ohio's weeklong same-day voting period," the Associated Press reports, "in which state residents can register and cast an absentee ballot on the same day.... Absentee voting in Ohio began Tuesday. The state's voter registration deadline is today."


- photographs by John Vujcec (1, 3), and Cary Hock (2)

Setlist:
Hey Mr. Spaceman
The Promised Land
The Ghost of Tom Joad
Thunder Road
Youngstown
No Surrender
The Rising
This Land is Your Land

October 4 / Philadelphia, PA / Ben Franklin Parkway
Notes: Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia, Springsteen began his three-city tour of Vote for Change rallies for the Obama campaign. After the introduction by a wisecracking Governor Ed Rendell, Springsteen and his acoustic took the stage for a seven-song, 45-minute set that opened with "The Promised Land." "Great to be here in my home away from home, Philly," Bruce told the crowd -- a huge turnout on this Ben Franklin Parkway esplanade -- adding later, "I tried this four years ago... this time, we'll win it!"

Songs included the relevant-as-ever "The Ghost of Tom Joad," the invitation of "Thunder Road," the determined rallying cries of "No Surrender" and "The Rising," and for fun, "a song I played many, many times at the old Main Point," "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street."

Springsteen also prepared a speech the occasion, calling for a rock to keep his pages from blowing in the wind -- "Don't throw it!" He began by noting that he'd been writing about the American people for 35 years; he went on to what the Founding Fathers accomplished here in Philadelphia, what they stood for, and what their counsel would be these 200-plus years later: "Do your best to make these things real." Going on to address the difference between promise and reality in America, Bruce had some good laugh lines ("I occasionally play big stadiums like Senator Obama") and wrapped it all up by returning to that metaphor he liked to pull out on the Magic tour, of building a house together. "One thousand George Bushes and one thousand Dick Cheneys will never be able to tear that house down.... Come on, Philly, let's build that house."

Toward the end of the set, the crowd broke into a spontaneous "Yes we can" chant, Bruce adding some percussion on his guitar before offering up one more, a regular from the '85 stadium tour, Woody Guthrie's stirring "This Land is Your Land." And one final message to the throng of voters in Philly: "It's up to you now."
- photograph by Rena Thompson

The speech:

I've spent 35 yrs writing about America, its people, and the meaning of the American Promise. The promise that was handed down to us, right here in this city from our founding fathers, with one instruction: Do your best to make these things real. Opportunity, equality, social and economic justice, a fair shake for all of our citizens, the American idea, as a positive influence, around the world for a more just and peaceful existence.

These are the things that give our lives hope, shape, and meaning. They are the ties that bind us together and give us faith in our contract with one another.

I've spent most of my creative life measuring the distance between that American promise and American reality. For many Americans, who are today losing their jobs, their homes, seeing their retirement funds disappear, who have no healthcare, or who have been abandoned in our inner cities, the distance between that promise, and that reality, has never been greater or more painful.

I believe Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and in his work. I think he understands in his heart the cost of that distance, in blood and suffering, in the lives of everyday Americans.  I believe as president, he would work to restore that promise to so many of our fellow citizens who have justifiably lost faith in its meaning.

After the disastrous administration of the past eight years, we need somebody to lead us in an American reclamation project. In my job, I travel around the world, and I occasionally play big stadiums, just like Senator Obama. I've continued to find, whereever I go, that America remains a repository of peoples' hopes, possibilities, and desires, and that despite the terrible erosion to our standing around the world, accomplished by our recent administration, we remain for many, many people this house of dreams. One thousand George Bushes and one thousand Dick Cheneys will never be able to tear that house down.

They will, however, be leaving office -- that's the good news. The bad news is that they'll be leaving office dropping the national tragedies of Katrina, Iraq, and our financial crisis in our laps. Our sacred house of dreams has been abused, it's been looted, and it's been left in a terrible state of disrepair. It needs care; it needs saving, it needs defending against those who would sell it down the river for power or a quick buck. It needs a citizenry with strong arms, hearts, and minds. It needs someone with Senator Obama's understanding, temperateness, deliberativeness, maturity, compassion, toughness, and faith, to help us rebuild our house once again.

But most importantly, it needs you. And me. It needs us, to rebuild our house with the generosity that is at the heart of the American spirit. A house that is truer and big enough to contain the hopes and dreams of all of our fellow citizens. Because that is where our future lies. We will rise or we will fall as a people by our ability to accomplish this task. Now I don't know about you, but I know that I want my house back, I want my America back, and I want my country back.

So now is the time to stand with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, roll up our sleeves, and come on up for the rising.

Watch Bruce's speech and "The Rising" above; for more video, visit cbs3.com.

Setlist:
The Promised Land
The Ghost of Tom Joad
Thunder Road
No Surrender
Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street
The Rising
This Land is Your Land




August 30 / Milwaukee, WI / The Roadhouse at the Lakefront
Notes:
An enormous turnout for one last Magic show, Bruce and the E Street Band's Saturday night special for Harley-Davidson's 105th Anniversary; it was one last stadium-sized performance, the outdoor set slightly tailored (and lengthened) for the occasion to be a fuel-injected, good-time rock 'n' roll blowout. Gates opened early for showgoers to get some relief from the brutally hot day -- at least the stage offered some shadow. Bruce himself arrived in Milwaukee in time to emerge before his opening acts -- looking like a biker himself, in long sleeves, denim, and sunglasses -- coming out on stage to greet the crowd, shake some hands and give some waves to the field before the sun went down. (Apparently not in time to practice with Alejandro Escovedo, though, who put in a well-received 45-minute set with no Bruce appearance.)

Main event showtime at 8:45, with Bruce and the E Street Band taking the stage to the vroom vroom sound of a revving Harley, Bruce shouting out, "Good evening, Harley-Davidson motorcycle enthusiasts!" Actually, there seemed to be as many Bruce fans as riders in the crowd (not that there wouldn't be crossover between the two), judging by what looked to be a one-to-one ratio of Springsteen shirts to Harley shirts. Bruce made 'em both happy with the opener, a scorching "Gypsy Biker"'s first time in that position.

A rocking sign set commenced with "Wooly Bully," the old Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs hit, the request spelled out in cotton balls on a sign in the shape of a bull. "This is a very creative sign... any bar band worth its salt has gotta know this one," Bruce said, Charlie's sodium level mighty high on his organ solo. "Darlington County" and "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)" (Steve: "Not even mentally?" Bruce: "You can lust in your mind") followed by request, Bruce and the band powering through at a blistering pace more reminiscent of the early part of the Magic tour despite the sign collection. The only time they really seemed to slow down to catch their breath was on "Darkness on the Edge of Town," a beautiful performance that served to center the band before they dove back into the fray with "Youngstown."

"Racing in the Street," another sign request, was played for Willie G. -- that's Harley hero Willie G. Davidson -- and as a "good end-of-summer song." It was one for the ages, too, just a stunning, definitive live version. Just when you might have thought it was over, Bruce hollered at the band, "Come on! Let's go! Keep it going!" for an extended coda with an otherworldy performance from Roy and Charlie. An amazing "Seven Nights to Rock" kept the engines roaring after "Badlands" to close the main set, Bruce truly rocking out on guitar at the end.

"Jason..." Bruce said as the encore began, "Jason, if you're here, come see Kevin." No it wasn't someone who had left their lights on -- Bruce was calling for Jason Federici to join in on "Sandy." "This is the my first closing of a tour, of course, without Danny... and we're lucky enough to have Danny's son with us." Jason took the stage with an accordion strapped on, joining Roy to squeezebox on his father's signature favorite. He was absolutely beaming, getting hugs from Bruce and Steve before leaving the stage.

Of course, "Sandy" also includes the line "Every summer when the weather gets hot they ride that road down from heaven on their Harleys..." and was a reminder if anyone needed it, of how long Bruce has had an eye on hog heaven. Some have expressed surprise that Springsteen would play a corporate event, but it's hard to deny his affinity with the "product." The runaway American dream of "Born to Run" was pure euphoria, with an ocean of arms in the air. For "Thunder Road," the screens displayed Bruce's motorcycle cred, showing a series of images of Bruce riding over the years -- and the crowd ate that up, too. "Happy birthday, Harley-Davidson!" Bruce repeated throughout the night.

During "Glory Days," Bruce: "Don't you gotta be in church tomorrow?"
Steve: "We're in church."
Bruce: "What?"
Steve: "We're in church now."

A quick kiss for Ginny -- "That's my sis!" -- in the family & friends section at the end of "Tenth Aenue Freeze-out." A thanks to the crew before "Dancing in the Dark," Bruce reeling off a list of names at this final show on the schedule and saying, "This was the greatest tour of our lives." And then one more -- "We're all warmed up now... We can't leave without this one, I guess... I hope we know it!" -- Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild." The place went apeshit, and Bruce shouted, "It had to be done!" A fun set, a loose set, a rocking set, a long set, a last chance power drive, putting the final punctuation mark on the Magic tour with the longest show of the past year, at 31 songs and three-and-a-half hours. "Thank you, we'll be seeing you... We're only just getting started!"


- photographs by Michael Zorn (1, 7, 9), Jose Rovalino (2), and A.M. Saddler (3, 4, 5, 6, 8)

Setlist:
Gypsy Biker
Out in the Street
Radio Nowhere
The Promised Land
Spirit in the Night
Wooly Bully
Darlington County
You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Youngstown
Murder Incorporated
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Working on the Highway
Racing in the Street
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
Seven Nights to Rock
* * *
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Glory Days
Born to Run
Rosalita
Bobby Jean
American Land
Thunder Road
Dancing in the Dark
Born to Be Wild


August 24 / Kansas City, MO / Sprint Center
Notes:
With the E Street Band headlining the Harley-Davidson anniversary festival next weekend, most of us have looked at the Magic tour as ending there in Milwaukee. But as the tour neared its close, the Harley show began to look more and more like a separate thing. Saturday night's St. Louis barnburner had the feel of one of Springsteen's penultimate night specials. Indeed, in Kansas City on Sunday, Bruce confirmed that they wouldn't be saving the last dance for Milwaukee: "This is the last official night of our Magic tour," he said from the Sprint Center stage, "so anything can happen!" And just about everything did -- from opening and closing the 3:10 show with tour premieres (the first time that's happened since, necessarily, opening night), to lead vocal turns from both Soozie and Max. Yes, Max Weinberg on the mic! The night before was the rock 'n' roll blow-out, with Kansas City more of a sprawling, celebratory, everything's-out-the-window-now romp -- the way Springsteen seems to like to wrap up a tour these days. Not with a neat bow, but with ribbons everywhere.

Up first was a world premiere, "Ricky Wants a Man of Her Own," a deep Tracks cut that got its first live airing ever. That led into "Cynthia," Bruce telling the crowd, "We're gonna do back-to-back Farfisa songs tonight!" Starting the show this way, with two obscurities (and"Cynthia" slower than usual), may have been a bit tough on the audience; Bruce soon brought them back in with "Hungry Heart" (an enormous cheer for this crowd-pleaser) and some more familiar sign requests, like "Cadillac Ranch" and "Working on the Highway." In between, though, was a truly unique performance, and the kind of thing that would only happen on a night like this: the vocal stylings of Mighty Max Weinberg.

"We have multiple requests here," Bruce said, going through the signs after "Spirit." "This is a very important one -- his has never been done before..." And he revealed a sign reading, "Let Max Sing." "Get that man a microphone! Oh, we're really flying by the seat of our pants now!... A little tutoring, be right back." Bruce went back to the drum riser to confer with the Mighty One. And maybe there was really only one song this could be -- the one, perfectly fitting song to break out for a sign like that. But in any case, damn impressive that they came up with it on the fly: it was "Boys," originally a Shirelles song, but most know it as sung by Max's hero, Ringo Starr, as Ringo's first recorded vocal with the Beatles. Max made the most of it, hollering out to "Kansas City!" as the song began. Musically, it sounded fantastic. Vocally... well, there's a reason Max isn't a singer, but he acquitted himself nicely. "You asked for it!" Bruce laughed afterward. A brilliant sign moment.

Breaking out another oldie just a few songs later, Bruce put the spotlight on another E Streeter. "This is for Soozie Tyrell," Bruce said, singing her praises and giving her the lead vocal on "It's All Over Now," the Bobby Womack song made big by the Stones (and often performed by Soozie with her own band). A great performance, with Bruce taking a verse and sharing the mic with Soozie on the chorus. "Gypsy Biker" got another play, surely warming it up for the Harley show. Bruce finally squeezed one in from the Devils & Dust record, playing "Devils & Dust" solo acoustic for the "safe return of our troops." And continuing E Street Band Appreciation Night, he looked over at Clarence before "Long Walk Home" and said "This is for the Mighty C."

A poignant "Sandy" opened the encore "in honor of our good friend Dan," Bruce said, with Charlie moving over to piano and Roy on the accordion. Bruce mentioned a donation that Sprint made to the Danny Federici Melanoma Fund and continued, "We're closing out our first tour ever without him. Gonna send this one out to you... and to Terry."

"Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" told the legend of the band one more time, lights-up standbys "Born to Run" and "Rosalita" rocked the house, and soon the last "American Land" tom beats were rolling out across the arena. "Mighty Max Weinberg -- the Singin' Fool!" Bruce hollered during the band intros at song's end. But of course that wasn't all she wrote just yet. "It ain't over til it's over!" said Springsteen, with still a couple premieres up his sleeve. "Save the Last Dance for Me" was a unique intro to "Dancing in the Dark" on this final night, Bruce starting the song solo before being joined by the keyboards, then Garry and Nils. A wonderful, soulful moment before the hopping commenced. Hannah, a little girl who had the honor a couple times before on this tour, came back for one last dance -- she upped the ante for Bruce with a cartwheel, and he responded with a somersault of his own. Finally, the E Street Band wrapped up their year-long tour with one more blast from the past, John Fogerty's "Rockin' All Over the World." "Thank you for suuporting our tour," Bruce told the crowd at the end. "Thank you for supporting the Magic album. Thank you Kansas City! Thank you E Street Nation!" After they all left the stage, cheers brought Bruce out for one last wave before disappearing again into the darkness. And it sure would be a whole lot more bittersweet if we didn't know they were going to be back on stage in less than a week!
- photographs by Joseph Quever

Setlist:
Ricky Wants a Man of Her Own
Cynthia
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Out in the Street
Hungry Heart
Spirit in the Night
Boys
Cadillac Ranch
Working on the Highway
It's All Over Now
Candy's Room
Gypsy Biker
Youngstown
The Promised Land
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Devils & Dust
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Born to Run
Rosalita
American Land
Save the Last Dance for Me/Dancing in the Dark
Rockin' All Over the World


August 23 / St. Louis, MO / Scottrade Center
Notes:
A real humdinger, and I like it like that. As the last notes of "Twist and Shout" died away, the buzz and general consensus was "best night of the tour." Of course, comparing these final Magic nights to performances from 2007 is like apples and socket wrenches. But no question, St. Louis was a peak performance, with a mind-blowing setlist and the energy to match. As the show stretched to three hours and 15 minutes, with two false endings to "Badlands," Mighty Max simply tearing up the drums, and three songs after "American Land"... Bruce didn't want to get off the stage, and the energized crowd didn't want to let him go.

It all started with "Then She Kissed Me," Bruce's spin on the Crystals classic that he last broke out in 1975. A delirious opener, a song I thought I'd never hear, but hey, we've come to expect such things this month. What I didn't expect was that it would be just the first of five classic covers in the set -- six, if you count the resurrected "Not Fade Away" intro to "She's the One." After granted requests for "Rendezvous" and a full-band "For You," Bruce returned to the signs and said, "As soon as we started doing these requests, people started getting very sassy. Very sassy. Trying to stump us with stuff we played 23 or 30 years ago. Tonight we'll challenge the band... and probably most of the audience, too!" Harold Dorman's "Mountain of Love" followed, a wall-of-sound cover that put me firmly on the path to Springsteen fanaticism when I first heard it on the Main Point '75 recording so many years ago. And in the nine-song encore, three more rock 'n' roll rave-ups -- "Detroit Medley," "Little Queenie," and "Twist and Shout" -- took it over the top.

But the oldies were only part of what shot this one into the stratosphere. Sizzling guitar on the return of a revitalized "Gypsy Biker," "Adam Raised a Cain," and a muscular (and rare) "Cover Me," Bruce taking two leads. And then there were the epics: "Backstreets," "Jungleland," and "Drive All Night." Traditional sing-alongs like "Hungry Heart" and "Sunny Day" went out the window to make room for this trio, and judging by the reaction, they were just as crowd-pleasing, if not more. "Backstreets" was played for a sign after "Mountain of Love" -- Bruce laughed, "We know this one!" After "Mary's Place," Steve could be seen miming a steering wheel to get the word around the stage. Bruce showed the "Drive All Night" sign to the crowd, and after an initial cheer there was an extraordinary hush, the whole place seeming to sit back to let it wash over. With the stage bathed in purple and blue light, it was a magical performance -- soulful, understated playing from the band led to tremedous crescendos, and then, if anyone had forgotten, Clarence reminded us of his power on that horn. "Better than Giants Stadium," a friend said to me halfway through the song... and it only got better from there.

For the first "extended play" song after "American Land," Springsteen decided to set a wrong right. "We got the hometown of Bob Costas here, am I right?" In case you haven't followed the corrections coming out of NBC, both Costas and Brian Williams have offered mea culpas for reporting that Springsteen dedicated a song to Olympic wunderkind Michael Phelps -- "news" that thrilled Phelps himself -- when no such thing ever happened. Well, it hadn't happened until St. Louis. Costas had conculded his correction by writing: "Now if The Boss could just cover our butts by giving Mr. Phelps a shout-out on Thursday night in Nashville, or Saturday night in my hometown of St. Louis -- a show I’d definitely be at were I not in Beijing -- I think I'd feel a lot better." Though he didn't have a sign, Bruce decided to grant that request. He made good retroactively on the news reports, continuing with a knowing smile, "We're gonna send this one out to Michael Phelps. Eight golds -- whew!" And again, very deliberately, "To Michael Phelps," before launching into "Thunder Road." Not "Born in the U.S.A." as reported, but Bob, Brian... butts are covered, you're in the clear. (And Brian, thanks for the shout-out.)

From there, the whole place was fist-pumping go! go! go! for "Little Queenie" -- hey, this is Chuck Berry's hometown, too. And no one actually expected the band to stick around for yet another one, but a prominent sign reading "Sophie loves Bruce" was just the excuse Springsteen needed to keep things going. "We gotta do one for Sophie!" he shouted, kicking off "Twist and Shout" to wring the last drops of energy out of the Scottrade Center. Bless you, Sophie, wherever you are, and hail, hail rock 'n' roll.
- photographs by Joseph Quever

Setlist:
Then She Kissed Me
Radio Nowhere
Out in the Street
Adam Raised a Cain
Spirit in the Night
Rendezvous
For You
Mountain of Love
Backstreets
Gypsy Biker
Because the Night
Not Fade Away/She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Cover Me
Mary's Place
Drive All Night
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Jungleland
Detroit Medley
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
Thunder Road
Little Queenie
Twist and Shout

August 21 / Nashville, TN / Sommet Center
Notes:
Nashville was all about going the extra mile. Why just do "She's the One" when you can add the "Mona" intro? ("Mona"/"She's the One" was last performed on September 10, 1981, and even that was its only performance on the River tour.) Why just do "I'm on Fire" when you can lead into it with a bit of "I Walk the Line"? (With the Sommet Center right next door to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Springsteen paid tribute to Johnny Cash with an impromptu verse of the Man in Black's trademark tune. With Bruce on vocals and Nils on guitar, the only possible complaint about this magical moment was that it was too short.) Why just do "Growin' Up" when you can include one of those long-loved and much-missed stories in the traditional spot? (Bruce was obliging a sign that read, "Play Growin' Up... and tell us a story about that God Damn Guitar!") Joe Strummer's birthday? Let's do "I Fought the Law."

It's those kinds of moments that have long elevated Springsteen's performances to greatness, and Nashville was full of them. Between the signs and the approaching end of the tour, spontaneity has become the rule. "I'm gonna test the band," Bruce told the crowd as the request portion began, showing everyone the sign for a Tennessee special, "Good Rockin' Tonight." "We played this at the Capitol Theatre in 1978," he recalled, quickly going over the song with the band as Max vamped (now with an "I [heart] Max" sign propped against his kit, which remained for the duration of the show). That wasn't quite enough -- "Short conference?" Bruce laughed before convening the band for a refresher huddle. "Elephants never forget!" he hollered before finally launching in: "Well have you heard the news?" And it was good rockin', with Roy and Bruce each taking fine solos. And again at the end: "Elephants never forget!"

A great sign set continued with "Growin' Up," that story starting off with the classic, "Well there I was...." He went on to set the scene of getting his first guitar, standing in front of the shop window with his mom: "It was Christmas Eve, nineteen... sixty... four?" And as "that God Damn Guitar" became "that God Blessed Guitar," they kicked back into the song with Bruce proclaiming, "This is for you, Pop!" The next sign request was "I'm Goin' Down": "This is a song that almost didn't make the Born in the U.S.A. record; it was this or 'Pink Cadillac.'... We've played this a few times, it's good for a laugh, and probably one of my most insightful songs about men and women," Bruce said with a chuckle. Next: "The price of gas is going up, up, up, up, up... Did you ever feel like you were held up without a gun?" And the River outtakes continued with "Loose Ends" -- just a stunning run.

In the encore, a sign for "Boys in Their Summer Clothes" gave us "Girls" to replace the setlisted "Tenth Avenue." The sign's photo of a young Bruce playing ball in cutoff shorts prompted him to assure the crowd, "I know it's a little strange, but that's actually how men wore their shorts! I promise you!" After a thrilling "I Fought the Law" ("Happy Birthday, Joe!"), Bruce brought out a guest for "Rosalita." And after all the speculation about who might guest in Nashville, who'da thunk it would be a guy from Philly? "Dave Bielanko from the great band Marah... check out their record!" Follwing "American Land" with the now-standard one more, though Sam Cooke's "Good Times" was on the setlist(!), Bruce sent the "incredible crowd" home with "Dancing in the Dark." The third Born in the U.S.A. song of the night, it might have disappointed some hardcores who hoped for something more obscure, but it felt like just the right energy level. For a show that seemed to be one of the most undersold of the leg, the Nashville crowd was into it and ready to hop. "You've been a fantastic crowd," Bruce said, "We come through the South and we get some of the best crowds we've had in the United States." In the crowd: Dierks Bentley, Kix Brooks, Amy Grant, Kim Carnes, Mat Kearney.
- photographs by Joseph Quever

Setlist:
Out in the Street
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Spirit in the Night
Good Rockin' Tonight
Growin' Up
I'm Goin' Down
Held Up Without a Gun
Loose Ends
Youngstown
Murder Inc.
Mona/She's the One
The Promised Land
Mary's Place
I Walk the Line/I'm on Fire
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thunder Road
Born to Run
I Fought the Law
Rosalita (with Dave Bielanko)
American Land
Dancing in the Dark

August 19 / Hershey, PA / Hersheypark Stadium
Notes:
Once again, it's E Street Band al fresco. And it's not like they had really scaled back performance-wise in the arenas, but tonight at Hersheypark Stadium it was decidedly a stadium-sized show. Three hours and 29 songs, with a powerhouse eight-song encore, and an emphasis on confections like "Darlington County," "Sunny Day," and "Working on the Highway," which Bruce performed out at the end of the center stage thrust. Those who expected locale-specific treats may have been disappointed -- not even "Candy's Room," let alone "Give the Girl a Kiss," "I Want Candy," "Sugar Sugar" or "Candy Man." Springsteen pulled a sign for "Give the Girl a Kiss" as part of the nightly collection, but otherwise, no apparent sense of the occasion for the Boss.

Instead, the Hershey show was a cover-fest: cover songs opened and closed (as in Charleston), with a total of four in the set -- two of them tour premieres. First up was "Summertime Blues" to open. The next one was a tour premiere from the sign collection -- "Oh my god.... we've created a monster!" said Bruce, faced with literally hundreds of signs, and he gave Little Steven first choice. "Pick one, Steve! We're going with obscurity... start with obscurity..." and Steven opted for John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom." ("Appears hastily assembled," Bruce said of the sign, written on a box lid -- with the even more longshot "London Calling" on the reverse.) Steve also picked "Darlington," which followed -- what, no signs for "Held Up Without a Gun"?

Two more covers came in the encore: "Seven Nights to Rock" had its first U.S. airing on the tour, with Garry stepping up to sing along into Steve's mic, and the tour premiere of Them's "Gloria" was a major highlight to close the show. "Let's take it back to where it all started!" Bruce hollered, bringing up Joe and Johnny Grushecky to jam along.

Another tour premiere was "Part Man, Part Monkey" by request, joining "Boom Boom" to recall the Tunnel of Love Express Tour. And did I say there was local flavor? Well, not of the chocolate variety -- but just down the road from the home of the "Scopes 2" trial, Bruce sent this one out to "the Dover parents, and good science education." "We don't know this one," he said (though 20 years ago, they were playing it practically every night), "See if the band can get it." They got it, just as they've gotten every other curveball Bruce and the signs have thrown their way. Like taking candy from a baby.
- photographs by Guy Aceto

Setlist:
Summertime Blues
Radio Nowhere
Out in the Street
Spirit in the Night
The Promised Land
Boom Boom
Darlington County
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Reason to Believe
Prove It All Night
No Surrender
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Working on the Highway
Part Man Part Monkey
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands

Thunder Road
Jungleland
Seven Nights to Rock
Born to Run
Rosalita
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
American Land
Gloria (with Joe and Johnny Grushecky)

August 18 / Richmond, VA / Richmond Coliseum
Notes:
Bruce to Backstreets in 2007, when asked about "The Price You Pay": "It's become a thing just because I haven't played it. If I had played it, nobody would give much of a damn if they heard it or not! Just because it hasn't been played.... My recollection is that it's been a while since we've played 'Crush on You.' And I'm not sure that one's going to be popping up in the set any time soon, either, you know?"

Tonight, Springsteen breaks a 28-year streak -- not with "The Price You Pay," but with the first "Crush on You" since December 16, 1980. "Crush" was played frequently on the 1980 leg of the River tour, but never again... until tonight. Reacting to a sign, Bruce himself seemingly couldn't believe they were actually about to play it. Steve even more so, from the look of him. "We firmly believe this is the worst song we ever put on a record," Bruce laughed, also revealing that he took the riff from the Car 54, Where Are You? theme. Still, butt of jokes though it may be, it was one of the biggest holy-shit moments of the tour to date, kicking off the encore with a blast of energy. On one hand, it's a throwaway River rocker... on the other hand, it's... a throwaway River rocker! The perfect kind of thing (as "Ramrod" has long shown) for encore time. The only thing we like better is some vintage rock 'n' roll, like, you know, "Quarter to Three." Yep, the Gary U.S. Bands classic was next (last played at Shea in 2003), as the nightly E Street Band-as-cover-band history lesson continues -- with "Twist and Shout" closing the eight-song encore to boot. Local boy Robbin Thompson, Bruce's Steel Mill bandmate, guested for this final song of the night.

But it's not like they saved all the good stuff for the end. In a very solid main set, a sign that read "My band just broke up -- please play 'Backstreets'!" brought us the majestic '75 epic, which led into a rare solo reading of "For You." Sitting at the piano, Bruce introduced it with some memories of Richmond, "an essential audience that allowed us to get out of town," and dedicated it in particular to old friend Russ Clem, who always introduced Steel Mill at their Richmond shows.

A welcome return from the Magic record, "I'll Work for Your Love," was in part a celebration of Clarence -- "The Big Man just got married!" -- who raised his arms victoriously. "The Promised Land," though setlisted, got a needed rest for the third show running. In all, 13 songs not performed at the previous show in Charleston, also including "Cadillac Ranch" and, previously played only in Amsterdam on this tour, "Stand on It." "This is a little obscure," Bruce said to introduce the latter, "but that's why we're here!" With only five shows left on the tour, ain't it nice that we're all on the same page?
- photographs by Bob Zimmerman

Setlist:
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Radio Nowhere
Out in the Street
Prove It All Night
Lonesome Day
Spirit in the Night
Stand on It
Cadillac Ranch
Backstreets
For You (solo piano)
Youngstown
Murder Incorporated
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
I'll Work for Your Love
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands

Crush on You
Quarter to Three
Born to Run
Rosalita
Bobby Jean
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
Twist and Shout (with Robbin Thompson)

August 16 / Charleston, SC / North Charleston Coliseum
Notes:
Springsteen and the band's first visit to Charleston since the Darkness tour -- last stop here was August 1, 1978 at Gaillard Auditorium. Back in the Lowcountry again after 30 years, they pull out yet another cover from the old days, following up the previous two shows' "Little Latin Lupe Lu" and "You Can't Sit Down" with tonight's opener, "Double Shot (of My Baby's Love)." "Let's start off with a little beach music," Bruce said, and this was indeed a local special: the Greenwood, SC-based Swingin' Medallions had a #17 hit with the song in 1966. (What's next, "Mountain of Love"? "Then She Kissed Me"? Keep those signs comin'!)

Surely aware of their long absence from these parts, Bruce and the band really turned it on and, frankly, played their asses off -- and the energy onstage was matched by the thunderous audience, clearly very appreciative of getting Bruce back. From the beginning, greeting the band with a roar to rival any European audience, this was, as Bruce declared a couple of times, a "great, great crowd."

The show was full of requests and audibles, including "Two Hearts" early in the proceedings. Signs tonight brought us "Light of Day," "Growin' Up," and "Janey, Don't You Lose Heart," then in a roundabout way, "No Surrender," as a sign called for Springsteen to "Play want you want!" The "Atlantic City" that followed was for a sign, too.

One of the few times the crowd flagged was during "Janey" -- granted, the tempo was off, it was a slow version, but though it was a treat for the hardcores, it read as a headscratcher for the crowd as a whole. Which may account for Bruce dropping "Drive All Night" and calling for "Hungry Heart" after "Mary's Place" instead.

Opening the encore was a very rare (only the second time on this tour) "Streets of Fire" -- a searing version and a real highlight of the show, thanks again to a sign. "Jungleland" was an audible in place of "Thunder Road" -- Bruce blew the words, but no matter, the crowd ate it all up, from the Carolina beach music opener to the "Twist and Shout" by request that closed the show. As Springsteen said, ""We need to come back more often!"


- photographs by Guy Aceto

Setlist:
Double Shot (of My Baby's Love)
Radio Nowhere
Out in the Street
Two Hearts
Spirit in the Night
Light of Day
Growin' Up
Janey, Don't You Lose Heart
No Surrender
Atlantic City
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Hungry Heart
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands

Streets of Fire
Jungleland
Born to Run
Rosalita
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
Twist and Shout

August 15 / Jacksonville, FL / Veterans Memorial Arena
Notes:
The Magic tour comes back inside but the open-air feel continues, with this arena show a continuation of the tour's summer evolution. As at the stadiums, Bruce and the band were often flying by the seat of their pants, taking requests by sign, playing only a handful of Magic songs (for better or worse), breaking out "Rosalita" and other recent big-stage barn-burners like "Youngstown" and "Murder Inc.," for a show that hit three hours on the nose.

Tonight's sign collection came after "Spirit in the Night," and the first request was a reach-back cover right up there with "Little Latin Lupe Lu": "You Can't Sit Down." Bruce pointed to the sign behind the stage, and the band deftly tackled it cold. An intermittent encore treat in the late '70s and sometimes medleyed in '81, the last time they even touched this one was nearly a decade ago, when they worked a bit of it into "Light of Day" midway through the reunion tour in Philly. And just as Philly was an appropriate place to break it out (the Philadelphia-based Dovells took the song to #3 in 1963), the Sunshine State is a fitting place for it, too: Steve Van Zandt played with the Dovells in the '70s on the Florida oldies circuit, picking up the nickname "Miami Steve" in the process.

"Does This Bus Stop" and "Candy's Room" were both played for signs, and then Bruce had a fine choice of his own, the rare "Loose Ends." After a 14-minute "Mary's Place" (another holdover from the stadium leg), we got a second tour premiere as Bruce pointed to a sign for "Back in Your Arms." This one had been soundchecked earlier in the day, Bruce likely already having it in mind to send out to Jerry Wexler, who died early this morning. "One of the great soul men," as Springsteen called him in his dedication, Wexler was an owner at Atlantic Records, producing greats like Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles, and coining the term "rhythm & blues." It was a wonderful performance, with a sweet solo from Clarence at the end.

More requests in the encore: "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" for a little girl's sign (he autographed it for her mid-song), and "Glory Days" for an Iraq War veteran's first show. And after "American Land," there was the now-traditional one more: this time it was a smokin' "Kitty's Back," which did not get stadium play... that alone showing the benefit of being back inside. No Patti tonight, and unusually, no "Promised Land," either; Pat Riley was in the pit.
- photographs by Michael Zorn

Setlist:
Out in the Street
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Spirit in the Night
You Can't Sit Down
Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
Candy's Room
Loose Ends
Youngstown
Murder Incorporated
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Back in Your Arms
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Born to Run
Rosalita
Glory Days
American Land
Kitty's Back

August 2 / Foxboro, MA / Gillette Stadium
Notes:
Another U.S. concert goes into the midnight hour, with the Gillette Stadium show not starting until 9:20, again with "Summertime Blues." Weather, not traffic, was the culprit this time, with a massive thunderstorm drenching the surroundings -- Bruce told the crowd, "We were dodging lightning bolts coming up here for about an hour and a half!" But after delaying the start until one last downpour was through, there was no rain for the entirety of the show (unless you count water running off the stage roof into the pit). And as Bruce said after "Spirit," "I think a little rain agrees with you guys."

It was a shorter show compared to the three nights in Jersey, not quite cracking the three-hour mark, and judging by the cross-offs on the handwritten setlist (including an unplayed "Racing in the Street" after "Mary's Place"), it seemed Bruce had to put some effort into how to trim the show a bit. But they still blew way past Gillette's 11:00 curfew, rocking "Rosalita" until ten past 12. In between, it was another party show -- all release, little tension -- with even more granted requests than usual bringing a pair of tour-debut covers and more rarities to set this night apart.

The biggest mind-blower came after "Tunnel of Love," as Springsteen gathered a heap of signs and complimented their "professionalism." One in particular made him chuckle: "The band will not be ready for this one... oh, they will not be ready!" It was "Little Latin Lupe Lu," a song they've only done a couple of times since the '70s -- and as opposed to some sign requests that probably would get played anyway, there's no way Bruce would have called this one up otherwise.

But it seemed the band was ready after all, the song sounded great -- and the professionalism of the sign sure didn't hurt Bruce's performance. As he pointed out, the sign had the "Lupe Lu" lyrics printed on the back (in a Bruce handwriting font, no less) with "Key of F" written at the top. "That's appreciated!" he laughed, and he wasn't kidding -- he made sure to have the words where he could see.

The requests kept coming, as "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street" (its second tour performance) and "Hungry Heart" followed, and then it was another cover special for the occasion. Not "Dirty Water" -- though there was plenty of that on the ground -- but another one almost as foreseeable: "Who'll Stop the Rain." Bruce played this one for Bill Belichick: "This is for the coach. He's out there tonight. He didn't bring a sign, though!"

Unusually, Bruce gathered more signs as the encore began, and kicked it off with another fan choice: "We have here the rarely played and even more rarely requested..." and he turned the sign around to reveal "I'm Goin' Down." That was another second tour performance, going into "Jungleland," by request for a birthday in the crowd. Thinking of nearby Boston, Bruce asked before "American Land," "Do we have any Irishmen out there?" The tepid response must have reminded him that this wasn't Boston, though, as at the end of the song he hollered, "Boston! Massachussets! Rhode Island! Connecticut! Wherever the fuck we are! You've just seen..." And on this night, it might have been a little late, but you could add rain-stoppin' E Street Band to the list.


- photographs by Alan Chitlik

Setlist:
Summertime Blues
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
The Promised Land
Spirit in the Night
Tunnel of Love
Little Latin Lupe Lu
Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
Hungry Heart
Who'll Stop the Rain
Youngstown
Murder Incorporated
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
I'm Goin' Down
Jungleland
Born to Run
Glory Days
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
Rosalita


July 31 / E. Rutherford, NJ / Giants Stadium
Notes:
Wow -- when's the last time a U.S. show went past midnight, let alone until 12:45? Granted, the final Jersey show didn't start until 9:30, thanks to a highway (specifically, the New Jersey turnpike, exit 16W) jammed up with a broken tanker truck. They delayed showtime to accomodate the horrendous traffic, finally playing to what appeared to be a fuil house (though some fans were still arriving as late as "Livin' in the Future)." In any case, kudos to Bruce and the band for delivering a thrilling, three-and-a-quarter-hour show, back up to 30 songs again, going above and beyond in terms of length and energy despite the late start -- and despite the heat! Giants Stadium was an oven last night, hot and humid, leading to what Bruce called a "Jersey baptism" in "Mary's Place," as he sponged water onto the crowd "in the name of the father, the son, and Elvis!"

Appropriately enough, for both the heat and the traffic, Bruce began the show with "Summertime Blues." That one had been the sign-collection song at the previous two Giants shows; now "Light of Day" filled that slot, with Bruce gathering requests as Max pounded out an extended intro. The signs brought some classic early material to the set, but first Bruce had his own idea: an impromptu "Pretty Flamingo," last played in this very venue on the Rising tour five years ago (and only its third performance sinde 1978). As Springsteen strummed the chords, refreshing himself and the band, he told the crowd that it was "just Patti's birthday a few days ago," and began ruminating on their history together. "I first met her when I was 20 and she was 17," he said. And then again when he was 24 and she was 21... and again when he was 35. "In the meantime," he said, "something happened to me." As he went on to talk about Clarence's upcoming wedding (just a week away!), it was clear that he meant he had gotten hitched, saying that both the Big Man and himself had been married before. "But Clarence more than me!" He added, "Clarence is getting it right this time," before summing it all up: "So I don't really believe in love at first sight." Taking the band through the Manfred Mann song, it was a magical performance all the more impressive for the fact that it was obviously unrehearsed. "Bridge!" Bruce called out, to make sure they all stayed together.

Back to those signs: "Incident" was just about to get a play, thanks to a sign requesting it "for your old, bald fans" -- "seems to be particular!" Bruce laughed -- when another sign caught his eye. "Give that one to me," he said, pointing to a placard for "Blinded By the Light." "We'll do that one now, and we'll do the other one next." (And hey, that makes for two Manfred Mann hits in the same show!) After "Blinded," though, Springsteen opted to keep the tempo quick, going into a powerhouse pack of "Cadillac Ranch," "Candy's Room," Night," and "Because the Night" -- the last of these featuring another somersaulting solo from Nils. While that forward roll may have been less of a surprise this time, Nils having done the trick before, it was no less shocking -- how the hell does he do that and keep on playing? And after the drawn-out "Mary's Place," Bruce finally made good on his earlier promise, as the strains of "Incident" filled the stadium -- "for you old, bald fans."

A high-energy encore opened with "Jungleland," Clarence shining on the solo; Steve hammed it up good on "Dancing in the Dark" as he and Bruce struck a tango pose. Steve, it should be said, has been really into it on this stand, looking like he's having a blast (and ever-considerate, handing out bottles of water to overheated fans, too). For "American Land," the E Streeters were joined by three Sessions Band players: Jeremy Chatzky on stand-up bass, Sam Bardfeld on fiddle, and Curtis King, sharing a vocal mic with Patti.

Of course, if you thought "American Land" would be the last song on this night, you haven't been paying attention. Two more songs, though? Well, that's a closing night special. First up was the long-awaited "Jersey Girl" (you knew it had to come out here, right?) played for a fancy two-part sign and dedicated to Bruce's mom. "She's here tonight," he said, "she's working the concession stand." The full-band rendition of the Tom Waits classic is always a special moment, and here it was like reliving the version from the Live/1975-'85 box set, with cheers from the crowd coming at the same places as on the '81 recording.

And finally, Bruce and the band closed out their homecoming stand with "Rosalita," one more "fairytale" to send fans home happy, well after coaches had turned into pumpkins.

Watch video from the all three nights, the first three songs from each Giants Stadium show, at NJ.com.
- photographs by Joseph Quever

Setlist:
Summertime Blues
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Radio Nowhere
Prove It All Night
Two Hearts
The Promised Land
Spirit in the Night
Light of Day
Brilliant Disguise
Pretty Flamingo
Blinded by the Light
Cadillac Ranch
Candy's Room
Night
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Incident on 57th Street
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Jungleland
Born to Run
Bobby Jean
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
Jersey Girl
Rosalita

July 28 / E. Rutherford, NJ / Giants Stadium
Notes:
Night two at Giants Stadium, and another show to crack the three-hour mark, at 28 songs. Well, 29, if you count "Happy Birthday" -- more on that in a sec. In all, it was a more fun, upbeat show than opening night, with lots of goofing around from Bruce. Everyone was on top of their game, with some choice rarities and some special guests, too.

During "Summertime Blues" Bruce began the nightly sign collection -- "Send 'em down!" he chanted. Flipping through them after "Tunnel," he found one to his liking, for a song previously only played twice ever: "Held Up Without a Gun." "That's a good sign for Steve," he said, cackling, and went on: "I'm gonna dedicate this to what it cost you guys to drive here! We're getting screwed somehow... This song was written in 1980 -- and it was prophetic." After blasting through all two minutes of it, Bruce hollered, "Goodnight everybody! That said it all!"

But there were more goodies to come -- "Saint in the City" was next, and with some confusion about the key, it veered dangerously toward train-wreck territory... before Bruce and Steve shredded on an amazing guitar duel that salvaged it all and then some. As for guitar-work, Nils had a great night too -- most astoundingly, pulling off a forward somersault in the middle of his "Because the Night" solo, playing straight through.

Some intra-family dedications, as "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" went out to Sam and Evelyn -- "That's for my boy," Bruce reiterated at the end. After "Drive All Night" made its U.S. tour debut, an occasion in and of itself, Bruce added another dedication, turning to Patti to say, "Happy birthday, babe." To start the encore he encouraged a serenade, saying, "Tomorrow's my baby's birthday, so go right ahead..." The 50,000-strong New Jersey crowd offered up a weak rendition of "Happy Birthday." "That's terrible!" Bruce said, and so he sang it himself as the band joined in to play along. On the "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" that followed, Bruce came down to sing and dance with daughter Jessica, too.

"Detroit Medley" always rocks the house, but the real highlight of the encore was when Bruce said "We've got the next generation!" and welcomed Max's son, Jay Weinberg, who took over the kit for "Born to Run." Mighty ambitious, you might think... but mighty seems to run in the family. Jay kicked ass -- he's got the power, and Max looked on with pride.

One more after "American Land" ("I don't wanna hurt nobody -- I want everyone to go home happy!"), and tonight it was the stadium-wrecker, "Twist and Shout." Jesse Malin and Marah's Dave Bielanko came on stage for the show-closer, and the birthday girl was joined at the mic by Jessica and some of her friends. Garry's daughter was up there, too -- definitely familiy and friends night at Giants Stadium. Happy birthday, Patti!

Watch video from the show at NJ.com.
- photographs by A.M. Saddler

Setlist:
Out in the Street
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Two Hearts
The Promised Land
Hungry Heart
Summertime Blues
Tunnel of Love
Held Up Without a Gun
It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City
Sherry Darling
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Drive All Night
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thunder Road
Detroit Medley
Born to Run
Glory Days
American Land
Twist and Shout


July 27 / E. Rutherford, NJ / Giants Stadium
Notes:
Just one week after wrapping up their two-month European tour, Bruce and the E Street Band are back in the U.S.A. and kicking off a homecoming stand in New Jersey. This first of three shows at Giants Stadium (and first U.S. outdoor show of the tour) found them picking up right where they left off a week ago, with a loosey-goosey setlist, signs collected and requests granted, diminished emphasis on Magic material but a considerably longer set than last time they were on these shores. They played 30 songs on this opening night, shooting well past the three-hour mark.

The show opened appropriately with the retelling of the Legend of the E Street Band, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out." Lots of dedications, including "Janey, Don't You Lose Heart" for "my friend Jane," and "Growin' Up" for a ten-year-old sign-holder named Rosie. "This song was written a quarter-century before you were born," Bruce told Rosie, "It must be good -- your daddy was a wink in his mama's eye!" And later in the song, he added, "There you were: a little egg inside a little egg inside a little egg...."

"Mary's Place" was "for my friend Wayne Myers, who has taught me so much about how to get there," Bruce said, "Thank you, Dr. Wayne!" Complete with knee-slide and an extended preacher rap (including Clarence in Ed McMahon mode, echoing Springsteen's offered wisdom), "Mary's Place" stretched out to 14 minutes, and that's even without band introductions.

After rejoining the band for the four shows in Spain, Patti Scialfa was with us again tonight, bringing out "Brilliant Disguise" and "Tunnel of Love." Her husband gave her a quick peck after "Brilliant Disguise," explaining, "I didn't want to mess up that makeup." To open the encore, Bruce decided to send one out to "one special Jersey girl," which had some eagerly anticipating a certain Tom Waits cover... but just for a sec, before he went into, of course, "Girls in Their Summer Clothes."

After "American Land," and after making like he was done for the night, Bruce came back to the mic and told the crowd, "You ain't got it." He continued egging the crowd on -- "You ain't got it. I still got it... you ain't got it" -- before finally finding them up to the challenge: "Oh yeah? Let's get it on!" No twisting and shouting tonight, that's been left in Europe for the time being -- instead, "Rosalita" came out to jump. "A true fairy tale to open the show," Bruce declared, "and a true fairy tale to close the show."

Watch video from the first three songs at NJ.com.
- photographs by A.M. Saddler

Setlist:
Tenth Avenue Freeeze-out
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
No Surrender
Adam Raised a Cain
Spirit in the Night
Summertime Blues
Brilliant Disguise
Atlantic City
Growin' Up
Janey, Don't You Lose Heart
I'll Work for Your Love
Youngstown
Murder Incorporated
The Promised Land
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Working on the Highway
Tunnel of Love
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Jungleland
Born to Run
Bobby Jean
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
Rosalita



July 19 & 20/ Barcelona, ESP / Camp Nou
Notes:
Springsteen and the E Street Band wrapped up their European tour with back-to-back shows at Barcelona's enormous Camp Nou -- the largest stadium in Europe. Even at that size, the place was packed, with 80,000 tickets sold per night; that made things somewhat uncomfortable on the floor, but with the level of Bruce fanaticism in Spain being what it is, it surely only added to the atmosphere for a good portion of the crowd. Trond Broensad writes: "Last night was my first show in Spain, and if you haven't seen Bruce play for a Spanish crowd, it's an experience you don't want to miss. The energy in the crowd is just unbelievable -- they were into it from beginning to end, dancing in the nosebleeds 200 meters from the stage!"

Over the two nights, Bruce and the band played a total of 43 different songs, with 15 songs coming out for the final night that weren't played the night before. Night one, on Saturday, was a relatively straightforward set, at least for a tour that's continually evolving. Broensad continues: "The show has changed over the course of this leg, and Patti's return is a fine addition. There was less focus on the reqests than I saw earlier on the tour, with a little more structure in the set. 'Backstreets' and 'Janey' were by request, and he really nailed 'Backstreets.' No tour premieres or really big surprises, but what the hell. Those don't matter when you hear really great versions of 'Backstreets,' 'Jungleland,' 'Tunnel of Love' and 'The River.' " By the end of the show a good deal of the E Street Band: The Next Generation were twisting and shouting onstage, too.

For Sunday night's closing show, repeat attendees might have felt like they were witnessing a continuation of the night before: "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out," often an encore song, kicked things off, and of the first twelve songs, only "Radio Nowhere" was a repeat. Anyone disappointed in Saturday night's "standard" setlist got a slew of rarities, too, including the tour premiere of "I'm Goin' Down," the second tour performance of "Light of Day," and a trifecta of "This Hard Land," "Youngstown," and "Murder Incorporated."

Hearkening back to the show-closing cover-song blowouts of old, both "Detroit Medley" and "Twist and Shout" came out in the encore, as did the Young Springsteens once again, joining their folks to wave goodbye to Barcelona, and to the 2008 European Magic tour. It's been a remarkable two months, with Bruce and the Band quickly getting up to speed on the larger stadium stage and expanding the show to match. In addition to songs tailor-made for these bigger venues, like "Hungry Heart" and "Born in the U.S.A.," they broke out some classic covers ("Summertime Blues," "Twist and Shout," "Seven Nights to Rock") and long-lost rave-ups ("Held Up Without a Gun," "Stand on It," "I'm a Rocker," "From Small Things") as well as surprise slow-burners -- like "Drive All Night," "I'm on Fire," and "Racing in the Street" -- that overcame the enormous environs to play incredibly well. Hard to believe it's over so soon. But if you're looking for a sad song, we ain't gonna play it: in just one week, the summer U.S. leg begins -- and for a few shows, the outdoor venues continue -- with Bruce and the E Street Band's homecoming stand at Giants Stadium kicking off on Sunday night, July 27.
- photographs by Phil Stanley (1) and Rene van Diemen (2-4)

July 19 Setlist:
No Surrender
Radio Nowhere
Out in the Street
The Promised Land
Hungry Heart
Summertime Blues
Brilliant Disguise
The River
Atlantic City
Candy's Room
Janey, Don't You Lose Heart
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Backstreets
Because the Night
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Tunnel of Love
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Jungleland
Born to Run
Bobby Jean
Glory Days
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
Twist and Shout

July 20 Setlist:
Tenth Avenue Freeeze-out
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Prove It All Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Spirit in the Night
Light of Day
Working on the Highway
Tougher Than the Rest
This Hard Land
Youngstown
Murder Incorporated
The Promised Land
Livin' in the Future
I'm Goin' Down
Mary's Place
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Thunder Road
Detroit Medley
Born to Run
Rosalita
Bobby Jean
American Land
Twist and Shout


July 17 / Madrid, ESP / Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
Notes:
The penultimate city on the European tour. Patti's still in the fold, and out come "Brilliant Disguise" and "Tunnel of Love." "Cover Me" gets its second tour performance. A UK fan writes: "From reading the setlist alone, one could almost describe the Madrid show as formulaic -- coming in at 28 songs, just under three hours, no huge surprises. But that view abjectly fails to describe what was a rip-roaring, passionate affair at the Bernabeu.

"In a magnificent stadium, pretty well packed to the rafters, Bruce and the band incited the crowd to near frenzy status on occasion. The energy, passion and sheer joy coming from the crowd was uplifting and at times electrifying -- no wonder Bruce delights in playing to Spanish audiences.  I was lucky to be able to watch the show from the pit (which was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it), yet the fans sat high up at the back of the stadium appeared to be just as exhilarated.

"The show kicked off shortly after 10 p.m. Stand-outs amongst many were 'Spirit in the Night,' 'Cadillac Ranch,' and a barnstorming 'Seven Nights to Rock,' along with an extended 'Mary's Place.' 'Badlands' brought the stadium to yet higher euphoria -- with Clarence bizarrely forgetting to join in for his sax solo!  The show drew to a close just after 1 a.m. with a fabulous 'Twist and Shout.'

"So while this show may not go down as a classic from setlist scrutineers, for those present amongst the Madrid hordes, it will certainly go down as a summer's evening to remember."

And hey, friend-o: Check out the intro from Javier Bardem!
- photographs by Rene van Diemen

Setlist:
Night
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
The Promised Land
Spirit in the Night
Summertime Blues
Brilliant Disguise
The River
Cover Me
Trapped
No Surrender
Out in the Street
Because the Night
Cadillac Ranch
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Tunnel of Love
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Jungleland
Seven Nights to Rock
Born to Run
Bobby Jean
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
Twist and Shout

July 15 / San Sebastian, ESP / Estadio Anoeta
Notes:
Apasionada. If the Spanish word for "passionate" is the best single word to describe last night's show in San Sebastian, then apasionado por la vida ("passionate for life") is the best single phrase to best understand and explain the local hosts there to enjoy the show. I'm not sure how else to properly describe the happenings at Estadio Anoeta Tuesday evening where Bruce and the band turned an already apasionada throng into a frenesi. 

And one would think it would take quite a bit to get the locals into a frenzy. After all, they already live in what might best be described as one of the most beautiful, elegant cities in the world, where several thousand (including yours truly) spent the sunny, 80-degree day at one of the handful of eye-popping beaches located right downtown. And they already have some of the best food in the world, where one can wander through the streets and find pinxos (tapas) bar after pinxos bar loaded with even more delectibles than are at the beaches. And after Spain's recent victory in the European Soccer Championship, not to mention the previous day's conclusion of the Running of the Bulls just down the road in Pamplona ,it's not as though the locals need any more excitement in their lives. But that would only serve to misunderstand the passion deeply embedded here for Bruce and the band.

The night's biggest surprise came right out of the gate when Patti Scialfa, absent for so many of the recent Magic shows (having been home minding the teenagers) suddenly appeared on stage. And when the band kicked into "Tunnel of Love" to start things off, the needle on the passionometer started to register. And the jumping began (more on that later). Nils' great solo towards the end of the song was a thing of beauty, and the band was just getting started. With a solid if perhaps not jaw-dropping set list that included all songs previously played on the Magic tour, someone who wasn't there might conclude that this show was a yawner. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Bruce was as juiced up as the crowd, feeling the passion, feeding on it and giving it right back. He looked possessed most of the night. And other than a few surprises ("Growin' Up," "Atlantic City," "Incident on 57th Street" and "Tougher Than the Rest") the band expertly worked their way through the set list with their 'A' game. Having already heard so many of these frequently played songs so often, a skeptic or regular attendee of the tour might think that the San Sebastian show wasn't as interesting as some of the others. Wrong again. This show was about passion and perfect execution. After hearing "She's the One" or "Badlands" or "No Surrender" and others for the umpteenth time, I found myself saying to myself, "Wow -- that was really good." Same holds true for "Summertime Blues" and even "Twist and Shout," both of which have had a lot of air time recently. It didn't matter. They were stunning and most were as good as I have ever heard. And the passionometer kept steadily rising throughout the night, redlining on many occasions. 

One of the better examples of the passion in the crowd is the European tradition of jumping up and down during songs, hands often up in the air. I saw a bit of this elsewhere in Europe, but nothing like what I saw last night. For the uninitiated Yank, start with what University of Wisconsin football fans do between the third and fourth quarter of every home game -- standing and jumping up and down for a few minutes while they pump House of Pain's "Jump Around" through the PA system. Great stuff to be sure, but the Cheeseheads are lightweights compared to the Basques. Last night's crowd jumped around for three straight hours. I've never seen (or felt) anything like it. It is infectious. Even Bruce was jumping up and down at a few points during the show while playing guitar. But to scan across the stadium and witness a sea of heads bobbing up and down is a sight to behold. 

And it wasn't just the people in the stadium jumping around. Just outside Estadio Anoeta, at the far end opposite the stage, stands a large apartment building which overlooks the stadium itself. Needless to say, all of the balconies and the roof were filled with people watching the show and, you guessed it... jumping around. It reminded me of Chicago Cubs fans watching a game from the buildings behind the ivy-covered walls of Wrigley Field. And it seemed as though Bruce was swinging for the fences and trying to hit one out of the park across Waveland Avenue to them. The video cameras actually panned to them during the show and projected the scene on the large screens beside the stage. 

After all of this locura (craziness) and an official ending at about 1:15am local time, it's hard to imagine how anybody there got up and went to work today. I just have enough energy to go to the beach then grab some pinxos and prepare for Madrid and Barcelona. San Sebastian might just be the aperitivo. Locura. No, Apasionada.
- report by Josh Rose - photographs by Serge

Setlist:
Tunnel of Love
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Out in the Street
The Promised Land
Hungry Heart
Summertime Blues
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Growin' Up
Atlantic City
Prove It All Night
Darlington County
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Tougher Than the Rest
Incident on 57th Street
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Bobby Jean
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
Twist and Shout


July 11 / Helsinki, FIN / Olympia Stadion
Notes:
A gorgeous Friday night in Helsinki for the last show on the Scandinavian leg of the tour. A sunny day in the mid-70s cooled down to mid-60s by the time the show began at 8 p.m. Olympia Stadion is a well-kept venue built in the 1950s, complete with a real grass field which gave the event a very park-like feel. The walk from the city center to the stadium is undoubtedly one of the most pleasant of all of the venues, a short 15-20 minute stroll through a park teeming with gardens, ponds and people having picnics, sunbathing (yes they do that in Finland) and some even engaged in pre-show festivities. Helsinki is a very refined, city and the reserved crowd seemed to reflect that: there wasn't the rabid passion that was evident in, say, Goteborg, but the audience was warm, appreciative, and even polite. Unlike Sweden, Finland hasn't been a regular stop for Bruce and the band over the years (much to the disappointment of some of the locals I talked to), so I didn't really have any particular expectation about the night prior to the event . And I certainly didn't expect a 31-song show with an eight-song encore, which ended a bit later than the 11 p.m. curfew the locals insisted had to be adhered to.

Hard to find many faults with this show -- strong set list, good energy, and near perfect sound. Highlights in the main set were three "summer specials": "Summertime Blues," "Sherry Darling," and "Sandy." Bruce collected signs during the long intro of "Summertime Blues" and made a few comments about the short Finland summer and long winter and made a funny remark about Santa Claus possibly being from Finland. "I'll Work for Your Love" was a "small" request which Bruce honored and was a pleasant surprise. But the night's real power was the three-pack of "Candy's Room," "Youngstown," and "Murder Incorporated." With "Because the Night" not in tonight's setlist, Nils was showcased in "Youngstown" -- previously performed only once by Bruce on this tour, solo-acoustic -- and it was searing. "Point Blank" was also a surprise, a request from someone who Bruce said had been "chasing [him] around for a while." "Born in the U.S.A." was nicely weaved into the four-pack (now five-pack) to end the set, was very well received by the locals, and Garry W. Tallent's bass work was exceptional. It felt as though there were a sub-woofer beneath the field.

As good as all this was, it wasn't until the encore that the locals really seemed to rock out. An eight-song stunner, which didn't end with "American Land." After that traditional closer, Bruce went on a hunt for a particular sign he had seen earlier in the night, found it, continued his story about Santa being from Finland, and then the band broke into a surprise mid-summer version of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (complete with some great Ho-Ho-Hos from Clarence) just for Finland. The locals ate it up, and the band wasn't done. They went straight into "Twist and Shout" to close, and even the most reserved Finns seemed to be up and dancing at this point. A nice Scandinavian send-off as the band packs up and heads down to Spain.
- report by Josh Rose - photographs by Riku Olkkonen

Setlist:
Night
Out in the Street
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Hungry Heart
Spirit in the Night
Summertime Blues
Sherry Darling
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
I'll Work for Your Love
Candy's Room
Youngstown
Murder Incorporated
The Promised Land
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Point Blank
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Born in the U.S.A.
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Born to Run
Rosalita
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
Twist and Shout


July 8 / Oslo, NOR / Valle Hovin Stadion
Notes:
Although the newspapers were full of praise for Night One and gave it top marks, this second show proved to be even better. At 30 songs and clocking in at about 3 hours and 10 minutes, it was the longest show of the tour yet. Highlights during the first half included "Adam Raised a Cain" and and "Growin' Up." The latter was a request form the same little girl who sang on "Hungry Heart" yesterday. Bruce noted: "Oh, you're back today!"

[Correction: Tom Gardner writes, "Bruce picked up the 'Growin' Up' sign from my little, but not that little and certainly not that young, friend Janice Bolton who was in the first row with myself and her boyfriend, Laurie.  On the rear of the sign was a request for 'Jole Blon.' We were taking a break off from our ongoing campaign for 'The Price You Pay'!"]

"If I Should Fall Behind" was played in a full-band arrangement for the first time with the E Street Band (as opposed to the reunion tour's stripped-down performance), similar to the recorded version from Lucky Town but with the Big Man taking the lead vocal during the first part of the last verse. The were lots of changes from the handwritten set list, with "I'll Work for Your Love" being a particularly nice addition. "From Small Things" was played as a request from none other than the Big Man! "Born in the U.S.A." was added in the middle of the now well-established "five-pack" -- or lately, four-pack -- and it worked great.

As on July 7, the encores were particularily hot. Finally, Oslo got their version of "Twist and Shout" after Bruce picked up a sign from a fan saying "Let's wreck this dump too!" -- referring to both this song's status as the "stadium wrecker" at Ullevi, Sweden, and to the fact that Valle Hovin probably is the worst venue in Europe. It reminds me more of an old parking lot than a stadium. Regardless of the quality of the venue, this show was hot, finally giving Norway -- the country in the world where Bruce sells most records per capita -- an excellent performance. Having been to four shows in five days, I’m now beat, but I wish I could continue forever…
- report by Ivar Noer - photographs by Rene van Diemen

Setlist:
Night
Out in the Street
Radio Nowhere
Adam Raised a Cain
Spirit in the Night
Growin' Up
You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
The Promised Land
If I Should Fall Behind
I’ll Work for Your Love
Roulette
Trapped
Murder Incorporated
Working on the Highway
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)
The Rising
Born in the U.S.A.
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Hungry Heart
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Bobby Jean
American Land
Twist and Shout



July 7 / Oslo, NOR / Valle Hovin Stadion
Notes:
Graeme Johannessen writes: "What?!? 30 songs!?! And that on a cold, damp and dreary evening in Oslo? An amazing rendition of 'Cover Me'? A little girl leading the chorus on 'Hungry Heart' at song number four? Has Bruce lost his marbles? Never mind that Valle Hovin is possibly the worst place in the universe to have a concert; the crowd was into it from the off, Bruce clearly in a great mood as he ripped into 'Two Hearts.' Following that, the highlights came thick and fast, 'Atlantic City' a notable as well as the ever fantastic and emotional 'Racing in the Street.'"


- photographs by Rene van Diemen

Setlist:
Two Hearts
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Hungry Heart
Cover Me
Cadillac Ranch
Gypsy Biker
The River
Atlantic City
Prove It All Night
Darlington County
The Promised Land
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Racing in the Street
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Born to Run
Bobby Jean
Glory Days
Seven Nights to Rock
Dancing in the Dark
American Land


July 5 / Goteborg, SWE / Ullevi
Notes:
For this second show of a two-night stand, Springsteen and the band thrilled repeat-attendees (and for that matter, all attendees) with an astounding set, containing 17 songs not played the night before. That included "Summertime Blues" by request, "Roulette," and the first full-band "Drive All Night" since 1981. With Clarence taking two solos, "Drive All Night" was pure magic.

As for Magic itself, its presence in the show was notably diminished, as "Radio Nowhere" was dropped for the first time; the first song played from the new album was in slot 15. Instead, there were surprises left and right, with "Hungry Heart" and "Backstreets" played early in the set, and "Janey" getting a rare airing as well.

The climax of the show was perhaps inevitable, at least foreseeable, but no less thrilling as Bruce and the band offered up one more for Sweden after "American Land." Tobias Sonestedt writes: "The standard show-closer was wonderful, cheerful and as fantastic as could be... but when the band was persuaded by the audience to play the classic 'stadium-wrecker' 'Twist and Shout' -- Ullevi was damaged during the two shows in 1985, thanks to that song -- it felt like the stadium exploded. It was a fairy-tale ending of a wonderful night when everything worked and the audience was as good as an audience can be. Bruce Springsteen is the undisputed Concert Champion of the World."
-photographs by Jan Lundahl

Setlist:
Night
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Hungry Heart
Summertime Blues
The Promised Land
Backstreets
Roulette
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Janey, Don't You Lose Heart
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Working on the Highway
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
I'm on Fire
Drive All Night
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Bobby Jean
American Land
Twist and Shout

July 4 / Goteborg, SWE / Ullevi
Notes:
Swedish shows generate the same level excitement as Bruce's visits to Italy and Spain. With a two-night stand in Goteborg on Friday and Saturday nights, John writes: "The whole city went Bruce crazy for the weekend -- every cafe blaring tunes, newspaper pull-out sections, radio promotions -- it was nuts. The European fans don't take bruce for granted as some of us Jersey fans do, and here in Sweden they are still talking about when the fans broke the stadium in '85." And this 2008 return to Goteborg sparked even greater anticipation, with a performance on the Fourth of July.

Of course, Bruce and the band came through with flying colors, red, white and blue. For the occasion we had the tour premiere of "Born in the U.S.A." to open (last played at a Magic warm-up show), plus both "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" and "Independence Day," the latter played only in Dallas on this tour. Additional rarities included "This Hard Land," "Cadilalc Ranch," and "Be True."

Here in the States, SIRIUS' E Street Radio broadcast live from the show, including "Sandy," "Atlantic City," "Because the Night," "Cadillac Ranch," "Independence Day," and the final five songs of the night. Online, you can see video of the opening three songs at aftonbladet.se.
-photographs by Riku Olkkonen

Setlist:
Born in the U.S.A.
Radio Nowhere
Out in the Street
Two Hearts
The Promised Land
Spirit in the Night
Be True
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Atlantic City
Prove It All Night
Darlington County
Because the Night
Cadillac Ranch
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Independence Day
This Hard Land
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Hungry Heart
Seven Nights to Rock
Born to Run
Rosalita
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

June 29 / Copenhagen, DEN / Parken
Notes:
Another 29-song set ties Copenhagen with Milan for the most songs yet. Audibles abounded from the very beginning, with "Two Hearts" (previously played just once on this tour, back in October) replacing the setlisted "Thunder Road" opener. Christopher Lind Arlaud writes: "Early on in the set, Bruce gathered up a bunch of requests scrawled on pieces of cardboard and sorted through them with comments like, 'No, that's too hard,' or 'Gee, don't see that one often,' or 'No, too many words in that one...." So with remarks like that, it was a big suprise that he did 'Blinded By the Light!'"

Also played on the spur of the moment were "Out in the Street," "Trapped," "I'm on Fire," "Downbound Train," "Seven Nights to Rock," "Ramrod," and that magical solo-piano "For You." Martin Jensen describes the last of these: "Bruce gave the band a break when he went to the piano and made 45,000 people silent while playing 'For You' in the darkness of the stadium. This song gave me the confirmation that Bruce's vocals are at their peak -- with the strong combination of power, masculinity, vulnerability, and even pain, he sang each word as a deep echo from his heart. Stunning, I must say!"

Complaints continue to come in about the sound, even in a scaled-down stadium like this one, but not about much else. Bruce is even handling concessions: "Spirit in the Night" -- which made for three songs from Greetings -- found him grabbing a pack of Carlsberg beer from he crowd, running across the stage and passing them out to fans (though not before taking a sip himself). From Anders Solberg's vantage in the pit: "In the encore when they played 'Seven Nights to Rock' and 'Ramrod,' I almost lost my hearing. Everybody was singing and screaming so much that I'm sure it was louder than the music. Just amazing. I will never forget the Copenhagen show. 29 songs. Three hours. Non-stop action. Great audience. Amazing energy by the band. I think this tour just made it's way up there with 1978 and the Reunion tour."


-photographs by Jan Lundahl

Setlist:
Two Hearts
Radio Nowhere
Out in the Street
The Promised Land
Spirit in the Night
Blinded By the Light
Something in the Night
Trapped
Gypsy Biker
Working on the Highway
Hungry Heart
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
I'm on Fire
Downbound Train
For You (solo piano)
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Jungleland
Seven Nights to Rock
Born to Run
Ramrod
Bobby Jean
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

June 27 / Paris, FRA / Parc des Princes
Notes:
Show-opener "Adam Raised a Cain" is as powerful as it comes, and it set the bar for the early part of the set in Paris. Highlights for me were "Spirit," a request for which happened to coincide with the setlist, another powerhouse in "Rendezvous" (a perfect fit for the setting), and a first outing in Europe for "Janey, Don't You Lose Heart." Bruce was so fired up during "Darlington County" that he left Nils behind when he shot off to one side to see the crowd, and their duet was conducted with Bruce on the run across the front apron.

Max may need stronger specs... he started "I'm on Fire" when Bruce was holding up a request for "Fire." They soon got it right, and Clarence comes into his own here with the deepest voice in the band; the two of them mugged it up, milking the pause for all it was worth -- that was magic. With even more magic to come, as Bruce took over the piano for a solo version of "For You." I'm sure I heard a pin drop up the back somewhere, and I felt bad but I had to take a couple of rare pics of Bruce at the keys...

What has become a fairly standard end-of-set section was augmented by a show-closing "Out in the Street," but if I'm honest, "Badlands" works better for that purpose. Fairly standard encores also, but of course this being Paris we were treated to not one but two guest appearances: Elliott Murphy of course, but now his son Gaspard joins in too, also a guitarist. Gaspard stayed as close to Bruce as possible during "Born to Run" to check out Bruce's moves. The look on Bruce's face showed that he was only too happy to be passing on his superior knowledge. Elliott shared a microphone with Soozie during "American Land," but -- especially through a long lens -- it was obvious that he had no idea how the song goes!

So, some moments that were truly wonderful. It would have been interesting if some of the other requests Bruce plucked out had coincided with the alternates on the setlist such as "Tougher Than the Rest," "Land of Hope and Dreams," and "Lost in the Flood"... there's always something more to look forward to, isn't there?
-report and photographs by Harry Scott

Setlist:
Adam Raised a Cain
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
The Promised Land
Spirit in the Night
Rendezvous
Candy's Room
Atlantic City
Janey, Don't You Lose Heart
Darlington County
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Fire
For You (solo piano)
The River
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
Out in the Street
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Born to Run (w/ Elliott Murphy)
Bobby Jean
Dancing in the Dark
American Land (w/ Elliott Murphy)

June 25 / Milan, ITA / San Siro
Notes:
The longest Magic show yet, at 29 songs, including three classic covers. While Bruce's last stop at San Siro coincided with a downpour, this time the rain had to come from Bruce himself, again dousing the crowd to try and cool them off on a scorching day. Distorted sound, particularly at the beginning of the show, but by all accounts a performance worthy of the high expectations in Milan -- even with "The River" and "Seven Nights to Rock" setlisted but not played. Paolo Fumagalli reports:

"What an amazing show! The concert was exactly three hours long, from 8:50 to 11:50 sharp. I hadn't seen such a long concert from Bruce since the Rising tour, or even the Reunion tour. Bruce is said to have a special relationship with the Italian audience, and particularly Milano, where he first played San Siro stadium on the 1985 tour. This one was full throttle -- it's been years since I've seen Bruce so charged, excited and powerful.

"Bruce opened the show shouting, 'Is it hot enough in here?!' And then he added, 'We'll make it even hotter!' before going right into 'Summertime Blues.' The second tour performances of 'None But the Brave' (Bruce: "Mmhh, let's see if I remember it...') and 'Hungry Heart' were selected by Bruce thanks to signs from the fans in the pit.

The first real peak of the gig was 'Darlington'/'Because the Night'/'She's the One.' A second emotional peak was 'I'm on Fire,' which Bruce sang while sitting on the edge of the stage, leaning out to the pit while hugging Nils (also sitting) with one arm. And then 'Racing in the Street' especially, with Roy Bittan on the piano and Bruce singing, and then the progression of Max's drums... one of the best moments of the show. 'Racing' was also played by request from a sign in the pit.

"Then it was a constant climax from 'Badlands' (the stadium seemed about to crumble down) onwards. 'Detroit Medley' was played becasue Little Steven tapped on Bruce's shoulder to point out the banner hanging from the upper level. After 'American Land,' Bruce called back the E Streeters, who were almost about to leave the stage, and started a riff on his guitar. There it was: a wonderfully enjoyable 'Twist and Shout,' a tour premier which had the whole audience dancing till we dropped."


-photographs by Rene van Diemen

Setlist:
Summertime Blues
Out in the Street
Radio Nowhere
Prove It All Night
The Promised Land
Spirit in the Night
None But the Brave
Candy's Room
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Hungry Heart
Darlington County
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
I'm on Fire
Racing in the Street
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Detroit Medley
Born to Run
Rosalita
Bobby Jean
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
Twist & Shout

June 23 / Antwerp, BEL / Sportpaleis
Notes:
A one-off arena show in the middle of this stadium leg, but don't think because they came in out of the sunshine that it was any less hot -- it was hotter. Bruce was bringing water down to the audience -- sometimes in cups, sometimes via sponge -- and even played janitor, mopping up the wet floor. After "Held Up Without a Gun" in Hamburg, Bruce and the band keep the surpises coming, including "So Young and in Love" opening the main set and "I'm a Rocker" to kick off the encore. Erik Block reports from his hometown:

"It was a full house, 17,000 fans, the sound was great, and it was rocking all night long. The songs followed up very fast, no time for stories -- only just after a pure and refreshing 'Spirit in the Night,' Bruce had a break. He went to the crowd, looking for some requests -- some written on a cardbord pizza box or on a very small paper -- and he took quite a lot of them back on stage. During the show, he would pick some of them out, playing songs like 'Sandy' and 'Point Blank.'

"Another break came when Bruce was looking for the sign hanging above the back of the stage, above Max. He was asking the lights and cameras to catch the sign, but it was quite difficult... finally they found it: 'Thundercrack'! A great song from the 1970s. Bruce had to ask if everybody was ready, telling the audience that the E Streeters are always ready... almost always!

"'Fire': the duet with Clarence was great! An especially cool moment, when they both stopped singing. It looked that the show was one big "ask for your favorite songs" performance. But it was great, nobody was complaining. When the E Street Band came back out for the encore, they gave us a tour premier, 'I'm a Rocker.' The audience was burning and gave him a standing ovation for the rest of the show! That was followed by a rocking 'Born to Run' and 'Thunder Road.' 'Isn’t it too hot?' Bruce asked several times, and he and Steve acted like waiters when they gave the crowd water to refresh them. But nobody felt the heat, only the waves of the sound."


-photographs by Riku Olkkonen (1,2,3) and Rene van Diemen (4)

Setlist:
So Young and in Love
Radio Nowhere
The Ties That Bind
The Promised Land
Spirit in the Night
Magic
Trapped
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Prove It All Night
Thundercrack
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Fire
Point Blank
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
I'm a Rocker
Born to Run
Thunder Road
Glory Days
American Land

June 21 / Hamburg, GER / HSH Nordbank Arena
Notes:
"Something in the Night," "Sherry Darling," "Incident"... "Held Up Without a Gun"?! "What a show and what a setlist," writes Jakob Haugaard Christiansen, "If you can call it that! It was more like a wishing well or a request-night made in heaven."

Erik Knevelbaard reports: "The energy and fun Bruce has this leg is amazing. The now-famous move where Bruce bends over before the front row crowd had a special twist during a high-energy 'Spirit in the Night.' During previous shows it always was a woman on the big screen between Bruce's legs, this time it was a fellow -- which made for a good laugh throughout the sold-out stadium. But what made this show extra special is the fact that he played a killer set.

"After 'Spirit' Bruce picked up a lot of signs, and some very good ones! We saw 'Something in the Night' and almost didn't dare to hope... but then Bruce said 'let's go, Steve' and showed the sign we hoped for! I finally got to hear one of my alltime faves -- it was beautiful and the highlight for me on this tour so far. And that was just the start, because Steve got his fave with 'Held Up Without a Gun.' Bruce described it as the band's most 'punk' song. It was great, just smoking, and Steve was all smiles! If I'm correct, it's the first performance of this short gem since 1981. 

"But it didn't stop there, as Bruce said 'we're gonna get them all out'... and they did! A great 'Hungry Heart' for a lady in the front row who Bruce had seen at many shows. Bruce wanted to play it acoustic, but the band (including Charlie) convinced him they knew it, so after Bruce played the first verse on acoustic guitar together with the whole stadium, the band kicked in and the crowd went wild. A great 'Incident' had me choked for the second time tonight, and the solo at the end was very powerful, Bruce was very focused for this one. The encores had the whole stadium shaking and left us all out of breath but oh so satisfied. After this show and the songs played, one has to wonder what comes next? I'm looking forward to the shows to come -- the game is really on now!"
-photograph by Jakob Haugaard Christiansen

Setlist:
Out in the Street
Radio Nowhere
Prove It All Night
The Promised Land
Spirit in the Night
Something in the Night
Held Up Without a Gun
Atlantic City
Gypsy Biker
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Sherry Darling
I'll Work for Your Love
Hungry Heart
Incident on 57th Street
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
7 Nights to Rock
Rosalita
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

June 18 / Amsterdam, NED / Amsterdam Arena
Notes:
A fun, interactive show in Amsterdam turned into a true stunner in the encore, as Bruce and the band tackled a classic cover they haven't done since the River tour. We'll let Helen set the scene: "The Netherlands are in a state of euphoria at the moment, as our country is doing very well in the European Football Championships. The team play in orange, our national color. Roy came onstage wearing an orange cap, and Bruce belted out: "Italy, France, Romania!" (the three countries we beat so far). A huge roar from everyone. Later on Bruce commented on it further, saying that everything in the Netherlands seemed to be orange: the houses, the people, the bicycles... Someone gave Bruce an orange garland, which he wore around his neck."

Massimo Benvegnu reports: "What a fun night we all had in Amsterdam, Bruce included! After a standard stadium start with 'Out in the Street,' things really got started with an amazingly touching 'Promised Land,' Springsteen singing the final verse holding the audience's hands. It was the first of many visits to the front of the stage, with Bruce visibly pleased by the attention he received from Dutch girls! And he wasn't the only one -- one brought a banner that read 'Princess of Little Steven,' which Bruce placed by Steve's mic. The obvious Dutch connection of Van Zandt and Springsteen made it for a very fun, loose atmosphere. Throughout the evening Springsteen extracted many different things from the audience, including a bunch of sunflowers, a 'Welpie' (a lion cub toy, the mascot for the Dutch football team), and a young girl that dove through the audience to hug the Boss during 'Darlington County.'"

"But what had the biggest impact was a sign for 'Summertime Blues,' which they actually played in the encores, much to everybody's amazement! At the end of the obviously improvised performance (they had not played the cover in 27 years), Steve even started the opening chords to 'Gloria' -- it felt like the E Street Band turned into a high school band playing a prom night in, errr... way back when! They kept rockin' with rarities from their own repertoire -- 'Stand on It' and 'Seven Nights to Rock' -- straight after it. 'Bobby Jean' was played with great feeling, and Steve did his best Sam Cooke on 'Long Walk Home,' which Springsteen praised with a 'Beautiful!' and the biggest grin ever. Bruce and the Band played with a great heart. A moving night, both poignant and funny!"


-Photographs by Rene van Diemen

Setlist:
Out in the Street
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
The Promised Land
Spirit in the Night
The River
Gypsy Biker
Prove It All Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Darlington County
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
I'm on Fire
Backstreets
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Summertime Blues
Stand on It
Seven Nights to Rock
Born to Run
Bobby Jean
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

June 16 / Dusseldorf, GER / LTU Arena
Notes:
The weather was fine, the arena was packed, and everybody was in a great mood when the E Street Band started their set with "Jackson Cage." And then at the beginning of the second verse... the video screens and the sound went off. Completely.

Bruce and the band were carrying on for a few moments, maybe hoping for the sound to come back, but they finally stopped playing. The shock turned into a very funny moment, with the E Streeters waving and smiling apologetically. When the sound came back a few minutes later Bruce grinned and said, "Maybe we should have started with another one!" And so, the show re-started with a triumphant "Night," which ended with Bruce and Clarence crossing themselves, thanking the Lord for getting through the song without another sound glitch. However, during the following "Radio Nowhere," just as Clarence was going into his sax solo, the video screens and the sound went off a second time! This time Bruce used the free moments to go right into the audience and collect banners with the requests. Again, he didn't lose his sense of humor, remarking when the power came back: "This goes to show, the E Street Band is 100% live!"

The power failure translated into a power high that made this show one of the most fierce and most fun shows I've seen. "Radio Nowhere" was played again, with great dedication and force in the face of everybody's fear of having the show cancelled. "Spirit in the Night" had Bruce diving into the audience, literally being lifted up by the many hands of the fans. When the song got to the quiet part (and everybody feared a new power glitch), Bruce grinned and added, "We're still on." This loose and "anything could happen at any time" atmosphere was on one hand unsettling (as Bruce remarked after the power glitch: "That was terrible!"). On the other hand, it made for a very special energy which the E Street Band used to create an extremely forceful and tight set. After "Magic" the first request was played: a haunting "Trapped" (which fit very nicely coming after "Magic"). The mood lightened with "Darlington County," during which Bruce again dove into the pit, interacting with the crowd in a way that suggested he was enjoying the experience more than ever.

The performance was one of the best I've ever seen, simply because Bruce and the band clearly were on a mission to show everybody that no power failure can stop the power of the E Street Band. In the end, everything went smoothly -- although Soozie's fiddle seemed to have its own power failure at the beginning of "American Land," so Bruce gave her two new starts -- without another major technical hiccup. The lack of electricity for the equipment was more than made up for by the sheer electricity of this band in top form. A magic night, absolutely. If only Bruce had announced that they would return!
Although
- report by Stefan Rogall - photographs by Bernhard Werner

Setlist:
Jackson Cage
Night
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
The Promised Land
Spirit in the Night
Magic
Trapped
Prove It All Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Darlington County
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Working on the Highway
The River
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Born to Run
Glory Days
Dancing in the Dark
American Land


June 14 / Cardiff, UK / Millennium Stadium
Notes:
Getting back on the road for the European stadium tour, Bruce began the marathon Cardiff stadium show with "a Welsh connection": the tour premiere of "From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)," a song he wrote and gave to Welshman Dave Edmunds years ago. Some back story: When the Cardiff-born Edmunds "went to see Springsteen perform at Wembley Arena [in 1981]," writes Garry Graff in The Ties That Bind, "he expected a good show but not necessarily a new song to record. 'I was backstage in the hospitality area after the gig,' Edmunds remembered, 'and one of his crew of road managers tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Bruce wants to meet you." I went back and had this great talk with him, and he played me this song and said, "I'd like you to do this, if you like it." He said he'd send me the tape, which he did." Edmunds' "From Small Things" was released on D.E. 7th in 1982, and Springsteen's own version finally emerged on Essential in 2003.

In the encore, a more bittersweet connection, as Springsteen sent out "Thunder Road" to the late Tim Russert:

"I'd like to do this tonight for a long time friend of the E Street Band who passed away suddenly.

"Tim Russert was an important unreplacable voice in American journalism. I watched him hold our politicians feet to the fire on many Sunday mornings. He was always a strong voice for honesty and accountability in American government .. but beyond that he was a lovely presence, a good father, husband, and good guy. He was a regular at many E Street Band shows and I'm going to miss looking down and seeing that big smiling face in the crowd.

"We send this out all the way back to the states tonight for his son Luke, his wife Maureen, his dad Big Russ, and all the Russert family.

"Tim, God Bless You, We will miss you..."
[posted on brucespringsteen.net]

In between, there was a riotous "Blinded By the Light," preceded by a story about Danny and Mad Dog, with particularly funny bit at the beginning as Steve tried to figure out what Bruce was playing. "The River," with some stirring falsetto at the end, was transcendent. Nils' "Because the Night" solo was a real highlight, as usual, and Clarence was in particularly fine form in the encore, with wonderful solos on "Thunder Road" and "Jungleland." And another highlight at the end of the show: Bruce telling the crowd, "We'll be back!"


-Photographs by Harry Scott

Setlist:
From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
The Promised Land
Blinded By the Light
Magic
Atlantic City
The River
Gypsy Biker
Darlington County
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Jungleland
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Rosalita
American Land

May 31 / London, UK / Emirates Stadium
Notes:
Another great show for night two in London -- this one ended right at curfew, at 24 songs, but was nice and loose, with a full half of the set not played the night before. Bill Cunningham writes: "It's hard to decide which of the two was the better night -- with so many setlist changes, it felt almost as if the two-night run in London was just one wonderful six-hour show."

One notable change was moving "Radio Nowhere" to the fifth slot. They opened with a bang with "Out in the Street," and burned through "No Surrender," "Darkness," and "Gypsy Biker" -- none of which were played on Friday -- before getting to what had been the traditional concert opener last time they were in these parts. "Sandy" and "Growin' Up" were wrapped around some Danny stories, and then it was on to back-to-back Born in the U.S.A. rarities: "Downbound Train" and "I'm on Fire." These were the first tour premieres of this European leg.

Ian Henry tells us: "It may have been a few songs shorter, but it was simply sensational and awesome tonight. Bruce was seriously on fire, the set was so radically different from the first night, and the performance of 'Jungleland' was, in my 32-show experience, probably the finest. But the real joy was 'Sandy'; this week, my list of songs I was desperate to hear live was three: 'Point Blank,' 'Sandy,' and 'NYC Serenade.' As another big man once sang, to Roy on the piano I believe, two out of three ain't bad. And tonight proved one thing to me, Ian’s First Law of Bruce Concerts Theory: if he is playing two shows in your town and you can't do both, do the second! But I did both, and I -- like the band -- need my two-week rest. Roll on Cardiff!"

Setlist:
Out in the Street
No Surrender
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Gypsy Biker
Radio Nowhere
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Growin' Up
Downbound Train
I'm on Fire
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
The Promised Land
Backstreets
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Jungleland
Born to Run
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
American Land

May 30 / London, UK / Emirates Stadium
Notes:
This first of two nights in London was the first concert to be held in Emirates Stadium, an enormous venue set down in the middle of a residential neighborhood, and the neighbors have been concerned about noise ever since these shows were announced. So with an established curfew, Springsteen and the E Streeters made sure to go on early -- "Did I see the sun? That can't be!" said Bruce. As it turned out, they blew right by the curfew time anyway, with the longest show yet of the tour, at 28 songs. Let others worry about the noise, Bruce had bigger concerns: "Nobody's played here before? We gotta test that structure tonight!"

Opening with "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" got the crowd into it right away, and the post-"Magic" run from "Atlantic City" through "Because the Night" was particularly structure-rattling. During "Working on the Highway," which Bruce sang from out on the center stage thrust, he asked, "Who's got the signs?" After a sweep of the crowd from side to side, gathering those request banners as he went, he deposited an armful at center stage. Foregoing "She's the One," he decided to dig through the signs instead, throwing them over his shoulder as he went and settling on one for "Caddy Ranch." That one was a real highlight, featuring solos from Soozie and Steve.

The "big" numbers like "Mary's Place" and "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" kill the momentum a bit, but of course they're perfect for venues of this size. Bruce made sure to get everyone on the sides and in the way back involved. "You gotta do that big stadium thing!" he encouraged on "Sunny Day," getting them to wave their hands in the air like they really, really care and to sing along. "Oh, that's pretty good for here!" he needled. Back to the sign pile for another request: a magnificent "Point Blank" that recalled "Racing" in Dublin as a song that really shouldn't work in a ridiculously large venue... but really did. Standout bass work from Garry Tallent.

Hit after hit in the encore, starting with an inspiring, communal performance of "Thunder Road" as a dedication: "We want to thank our longtime, faithful English fans... We're gonna do this for you." After "Born to Run" and "Glory Days" (Bruce: "Is it tea time?... Is it sexy time?" Steve: "Not yet!"), it was time to really drive the crowd wild. "You can't take it no more!" Bruce hollered. "We wanna give it to you!" he repeated. "We're gonna give it to you!" They did -- "Rosie" was a blast. Structure test passed. But of course, that's just night one.
-Photographs by Harry Scott

Setlist:
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Radio Nowhere
The Ties That Bind
Lonesome Day
The Promised Land
Magic
Atlantic City
Reason to Believe
Candy's Room
Prove it all Night
Because the Night
Working on the Highway
Cadillac Ranch
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Point Blank
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Glory Days
Rosalita
Dancing in the Dark
American Land


May 28 / Manchester, UK / Old Trafford Stadium
Notes:
Five years (almost to the day) after Bruce and the E Street Band played the Old Trafford Cricket Ground on the Rising tour, they return to Manchester for another open-air show at nearby Old Trafford Stadium, home of Manchester United. They keep up the current trend of longer shows, again at 26 songs, with a good number of audibles including "Trapped," "Darlington County," "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City," and "I'll Work for Your Love."

A rocking show by all accounts; Nigel Ford tells us: "Bruce took the stage alongside Clarence and greeted us with the words, 'Good evening Manchester, home of the European champions! We got some celebrating to do!' The Manchester United theme continued later when he revealed that his 18-year-old son doesn't watch American sports, but 'watches soccer all weekend -- and these are his boys. So he's been giving me the low-down on what to say when I tread this hallowed ground.' This didn't endear him to the entire audience by any means, but he was presented with a Man Utd shirt with 'The Boss' inscribed across the shoulders, which the Boss himself seemed pretty pleased with. 

"The opening five were belted out without a second to spare, with 'Night' appearing to be an audible. The undoubted highlight of a barnstorming performance was a stonking version of 'Because the Night,' with Nils, who was on great form all evening, treating us to a solo which set the stadium on fire, complete with half a dozen twirls to finish it off.  The first encore was 'Growin' Up,' dedicated to and at the request of a six-year old boy, clearly delighted that Bruce had singled him out for special attention. He sat on his dad's shoulders , wearing orange ear protectors -- which Bruce had a bit of fun with halfway through the song, fast forwarding to when the kid would be reminiscing about his first concert when 'my dad made me wear this huge pair of freaky orange tins on my ears'."
-Photographs by Mike Ainscoe (1) & Harry Scott (2, 3)

Setlist:
No Surrender
Radio Nowhere
Night
Lonesome Day
The Promised Land
Magic
Trapped
Adam Raised a Cain
Darlington County
It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
I'll Work for Your Love
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Growin' Up
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Born to Run
Rosalita
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

May 25 / Dublin, IRE / RDS Arena
Notes:
If you caught one of the first two Dublin shows but not the third, you might be taken aback to hear them described as warm-ups. But they really were trial laps compared to Sunday night at the RDS Arena, when Springsteen and the E Street Band put pedal to the metal and blew the doors off. Now thoroughly in stadium mode and completely comfortable on the bigger stage, this was the show of the stand. A happy, appreciative Springsteen clearly knew it -- and two bonus songs after "American Land" served as the victory lap. This night was even more physical, with Bruce running up and down, back and forth, and making the most of the three stage thrusts to interact with the crowd. As they grabbed at his legs on "Spirit in the Night" -- "Can you feel the spirit?" he sang in a new intro -- Bruce took advantage of the hold to do a complete backbend, all the way down. Yes, literally bending over backwards to please.

A powerhouse trio of "Gypsy Biker," "Atlantic City," and "Reason to Believe" shook the RDS foundations. But it was next that the surprises really started coming. One might have thought that "Spirit" would be the night's flashback for Danny, but here Springsteen thanked the crowd for their condolences and offered two more: "Sandy" into "Growin' Up." There was a Danny-gets-busted story, and Bruce also told the crowd: "Danny's name was Federici, but he was adopted -- that red hair and freckles... I'm sure he was Irish."

Patti remains absent from this leg so far, Bruce now telling the crowd, "The fort must be guarded at all times." Also missing was "Devil's Arcade," dropped from the five-pack and replaced by "Racing in the Street." This Darkness epic is obviously a far cry from stadium sing-alongs like "Sunny Day" or "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," but it they brought it off and then some -- even indoors, this "Racing" would have been a stand-out, but hushing a venue of this size, it was astounding communal moment.

"Is the band ready?" Bruce asked in the encore, "Are the people ready? Is the band ready? Are the people ready?" A great, goofy "Rosalita" was followed by "Dancing in the Dark." Once again a frightened girl had to be quickly handed back to her parents after Bruce tried to bring her up for a dance... maybe the stadium crowd is just that much more intimidating? "If this keeps happening," said Bruce, "I'm gonna be cited for child abuse!" By this point in the show, though, he had everyone else eating out of the palm of his hand, too in the groove to stop with "American Land." "One more for Dublin!" Bruce hollered -- which turned into two more for Dublin, as "Ramrod" (complete with silly hat mugging) gave way to "Glory Days" without a breath. Stretched out to two hours and 45 minutes, it was a sensational performance.
-Photographs by Riku Olkkonen (1) and Rene van Diemen (2, 3)

Setlist:
No Surrender
Radio Nowhere
The Ties That Bind
Spirit in the Night
Gypsy Biker
Atlantic City
Reason to Believe
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Growin' Up
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
The Promised Land
Racing in the Street
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Born to Run
Rosalita
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
Ramrod
Glory Days

May 23 /Dublin, IRE / RDS Arena
Notes:
"Who was here last night?" Bruce asked the crowd Friday night in Dublin, and he got a huge response back. "Get outta here! We'll switch it up for you, then." Bono, though in attendance, didn't join in as rumors suggested he would, so it wasn't switched up that much... but more than a third of the set changed for the second show of the leg, with nine songs not played on opening night. "Trapped" into "Murder Incorporated" was a particular high-energy highlight. The "Darlington County" that followed (one of four songs played from Born in the U.S.A.) was a very physical performance, with Bruce running all over that enormous stage. "Prove It" featured more stunning and ever-evolving solo work from Nils.

Though a hot day, it was anoher chilly night, and before "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," Bruce said "I guess it's a little cool for this one...." But the band's finally getting the hang of it, this was probably the best-sounding live version of the song to date, and Bruce generated enough heat that he took a beer from the crowd and drank it down before "Devil's Arcade." "So I owe someone a beer now!"

In the encore, Springsteen thanked Dublin for their "support of all the music we've made, in the past ten years especially." As he asked Stevie for the time in "Glory Days" -- sleepy time? quittin' time? -- he wondered aloud, "Maybe it's Guinness time!" With "Dancing in the Dark" next, Bruce came down to pull a young girl up for a dance, but seemingly overwhelmed, she had to go right back to her folks. So instead, he went the other direction and grabbed a grown-up guy from Brescia, Italy for the honor. Bruce announced at song's end: "I will now scare small children!"

So these new two-way video screens are cool -- they control the horizontal, they control the vertical. As you can see here, they're starting to play around more with some tall shots, giving even the farthest reaches of the place a nice view.

Still, there are some kinks to work out, like at the end of the night when for the "E! Street! Band!" splash graphics, the thing just got stuck on "E!" Embarassing? Ehhhh... not that Egregious. More like Entertaining.


-Photographs by Rene van Diemen (1, 2, 4) and Eleonora Orpelli (3)

Setlist:
Night
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
The Promised Land
Magic
Trapped
Murder Incorporated
Darlington County
Prove It All Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Jungleland
Born to Run
Glory Days
Dancing in the Dark
American Land


May 22 /Dublin, IRE / RDS Arena
Notes:
It was a cool and drizzly Dublin day, settling down to a light mist as Bruce and the E Street Band kicked off their Spring 2008 European tour. "We brought the New Jersey weather with us, I guess!" Bruce said. Don't let the word arena fool you, they've most definitely made the move to stadiums. This Dublin venue is an equestrian oval -- perhaps not your standard stadium, but an open air venue vastly larger than anything the Magic tour has played so far, with a bigger stage, bigger video screens, bigger everything. So any faltering tonight can be chalked up to the performers getting the feel of the new setup, getting their stadium legs back -- not to mention the strangeness of playing in broad daylight, as "The Promised Land" opened the show at 8:10 before the sun went down. No Phantom Dan tribute video, but Bruce mentioned Danny's passing as he thanked the crowd for their good wishes.

Despite a tentative start, Bruce and the band turned in a powerful and lengthy performance, at 26 songs. Four songs between "Reason to Believe" and "She's the One" made for a kick-ass mid-set stretch. "Out in the Street," "Candy's Room," and "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" were all audibles, with the sing-along on "Sunny Day" going so well that Bruce had to hush the crowd in order to go into "The River." Patti Scialfa hasn't made the jump across the pond, with Bruce telling the crowd that as he left home, "the Guinness was being poured." But Southside Johnny was there -- "the most dangerous man in show business" -- singing backup and clowning around on "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out." And here in the land of its inspiration, "American Land" closed the show.
-Photographs by Riku Olkkonen

Setlist:
The Promised Land
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Out in the Street
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Candy's Room
Prove It All Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The River
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Bobby Jean
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (w/ Southside Johnny)
American Land



May 17 / The Stone Pony / Asbury Park, NJ
Notes:
For the second of two Mike Ness shows at the Pony, the Social Disortion frontman was joined on stage by his friend (and longtime fan) Bruce Springsteen. After watching the show from the soundboard, Springsteen joined in for a four- encore. As Linda tells us, there was "'Misery Loves Company,' the song they did together on Mike's 1999 solo CD, Cheating at Solitaire. Then they did my favorite Social D. song, 'Ball and Chain,' but instead of sticking to the original rocking version, they did it as a slow, country ballad. Bruce sang the second verse, and the crowd went nuts. Next was a 'If You Leave Before Me,' from Cheating at Solitaire, followed by a fun 'I Fought the Law.' What was really cool was seeing the excitement and giddiness of Social D. fans after the show. Most of these fans are guys in their 20s -- tattoos, pierced body parts, part hardcore punk/part rockabilly, and their hot Bettie Page-type girlfriends. They were so happy and excited, and I heard them saying, 'Man, nothing gets better than this!' and 'Wow, can you believe it? How frickin' amazing was that?!'" As Ness asked the crowd, "Aren't you guys glad you came the second night?" [Correction: Ness performed Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" without Springsteen]
-Photograph by Mark R. Sullivan

Setlist:
Misery Loves Company
Ball and Chain
If You Leave Before Me
I Fought the Law


May 13 / The Stone Pony / Asbury Park, NJ
Notes:
While the Magic tour is about to ramp up from arenas to stadiums, Bruce has been spending this break doing some serious downsizing -- last week it was the Count Basie Theatre, and last night it was all the way down to the Stone Pony. Bruce was back on the Pony stage for another school benefit on Tuesday night, once again backed by Bobby Bandiera's band (with horns), and joined by Southside Johnny and Patti Scialfa. By now we're familiar with the basics of the annual set-- classic covers like "634-5789," "Seven Nights to Rock," and "Twist and Shout" intermingling with houserockin' rave-ups from Bruce's own catalog -- this year clocking in at two hours and 20 minutes. "Hold On, I'm Coming" was a particular stand-out, with Bruce and Bobby doing their best Sam & Dave. Patti had a great turn on "It Takes Two," with Bobby shining on the guitar solo, and her vocal on "All I Have to Do is Dream" was another highlight. As for originals, "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" was added to the mix, and this private benefit for parents and teachers continues to bring out some otherwise oft-overlooked tracks. There was "Cover Me," "Rendezvous," "The Fever," "From Small Things," "Pink Cadillac," and an all-too-rare dip into the '92 songbook for "Man's Job." "Thunder Road" may not be a rarity, but try it played solo-electric in the intimate confines of the Pony -- ah, if only we all could -- as a small crowd sings along. Soundchecked but not played: "Sugar, Sugar," "Ain't Too Proud to Beg."

Setlist:
634-5789
Cadillac Ranch
Cover Me
Two Hearts
Spirit in the Night
Hold On, I'm Comin'
It Takes Two (w/ Patti)
Rendezvous
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Seven Nights to Rock
Tell Him (w/ Patti)
Time Is on My Side (w/ Patti)
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The Fever (w/ SSJ)
Talk to Me (w/ SSJ)
Darlington County
Fram Small Things
Man's Job
Pink Cadillac
All I Have to Do Is Dream (w/ Patti)
Detroit Medley
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Thunder Road
Glory Days
Twist & Shout



May 7 / The Count Basie Theatre / Red Bank, NJ
Notes:
Ah, the stuff that dreams are made of... or at least the stuff that fan rap sessions are made of: "They should do the Darkness album start to finish!" Well, they just did. And it wasn't just a Darkness 30th anniversary celebration -- they tackled the full Born to Run album in order, too, for what Bruce described at the outset as "something we've never done before and you're not gonna see anywhere else." An E Street Band theater show -- finding them packed tighter than ever on a small stage like this, with Nils, Patti, and Soozie all added to the line-up since the theater days -- would have been exceptional enough, but the four Perfect Album Sides of the setlist put this one over the top.

The evening began with the Basie's Rusty Young describing the benefit show's mission, to raise money for the restoration of this 80-year-old theater to its original glory -- "when the ceiling wasn't covered in netting" -- and this night alone brought in more than three million dollars. Young noted that Patti Scialfa is the "honorary co-chair of our capital campaign," and after he asked her for ideas... "tonight is her answer." Generous donations also made it possible, Young said, for 37 wounded veterans to attend the show, talking the bus in from Walter Reed.

Patti came out next to a mighty standing ovation -- "I'm supposed to welcome you, and you're welcoming me!" -- speaking of her and the rest of the band's history at the Basie, and of the importance of saving venues like this one. She was followed by NBC anchor Brian Williams, who goes back a long way as a fan and was clearly psyched just to be talking through Springsteen's mic ("the first and last time that will ever happen"). He recalled hitting the Stone Pony and the Tradewinds back in the day, ever on Bruce-watch; he also touched on the recent loss of Danny Federici, saying that "Great families endure. And great, great bands endure." "The netting is just to keep the larger pieces of debris from falling down," he added, "and if there's an entity that could cause the big ones to fall, it's this group here.... Ladies and gentlemen, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band!"

And with that, it was Darkness, side one, to start the show. "We're gonna start with Darkness, so we don't send you home suicidal!" Bruce quickly aborted "Badlands" seconds in, after a rough start: "We fucked it up already! I knew there was a reason why we didn't do this," he laughed. "Maybe we shouldn't do it!" But they did it. And man, they did it. From track to track, for the first time live, it was Darkness sequenced as Bruce originally intended it to be heard, full of intensity from the howls on "Something in the Night" to the seemingly never-ending coda of "Racing in the Street," a straight-ahead "Factory" (not the Bruce/Patti duet of recent years) with Steve on mandolin, the modern twist on "Prove It All Night" as Nils rocked the new solo, and at the end of "side two," a hugely powerful vocal on the title track. Loads of guitar from Springsteen, too -- every solo except that Nils spectacular, in fact. Bruce offered a solo to Steve at one point, which was respectfully declined.

After an only-fitting intermission, Born to Run got the same sequential treatment, offering a distinct reminder of what a freakin' masterpiece it is, as well as of the difference in tone between the two records. After the ferocity of the first set, here Bruce was having a blast, jumping into the crowd on the "Freeze-out" and even being held up by the crowd -- did we mention this was a theater show? Several clambers up on the piano throughout this second set, too. "Tenth" also brought a full horn section to the stage -- "The Mighty Max Horns," as Bruce later called them -- consisting of Mark Pender on trumpet, LaBamba on trombone, Jerry Vivino and Ed Manion on saxes. Pender came back out for "Meeting Across the River," giving his own spin to Randy Brecker's original trumpet part for a few minutes of absolute magic, also thanks to the beautfiul accompaniment from Roy and Garry. "Jungleland" had Steve stepping up for a soaring solo, and of course Clarence -- invigorated, up and around for much of this night -- did his thing and did it well.

And that wasn't the end -- as the needle hit the runout groove, Bruce said, "Let's bring out the horns! We've got a few more for you!" And they used the horn section to maximum effect for the entire encore, four bonus tracks starting off with BTR/Darkness outtake "So Young and in Love." "Kitty's Back" was next -- "and she's got somebody with her!" Bruce teased at the end, "Kitty's back, and she's got somebody with her!" That somebody was "Rosalita," and finally, Eddie Floyd's "Raise Your Hand" made sure we got an R&B cover in there for the full effect of this '70s theater revival.

It was a particular bygone era brought back to life, a celebration of the band's history and just one of its heydays, and a tip of the hat to a couple of 30th anniversaries... yet as ever with Springsteen, it was most notably moving forward and trying something new at the same time. And playing for a take-'em-all-in-with-one-glance crowd from the orchestra to the balcony, a packed theater practically on top of Bruce and the band (at least compared to where they have been and will be playing in this new millenium), it was the perfect crucible for revisiting the passion and the power of these classic records. An experiment, no doubt -- and an electrifying success.
-Photograph by Joseph Quever

Setlist:
Badlands
Adam Raised a Cain
Something in the Night
Candy's Room
Racing in the Street
The Promised Land
Factory
Streets of Fire
Prove It All Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town
* * *
Thunder Road
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (w/ horns)
Night
Backstreets
Born to Run
She's the One
Meeting Across the River (w/ Mark Pender)
Jungleland
* * *
So Young and in Love (w/ horns)
Kitty's Back (w/ horns)
Rosalita (w/ horns)
Raise Your Hand (w/ horns)


May 4 / New Jersey Performing Arts Center / Newark, NJ
Notes: Bruce Springsteen was part of the inauguaral class inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame -- and he was there for the honor, also giving the speech to induct Frank Sinatra and joining LaBamba and the Hubcaps for "Glory Days." It was a nice birthday present for Bruce's mom Adele, too, who was in the crowd with Patti. Read a report in the Star-Ledger, and we'll let YouTube tell the story (with thanks to John Zur): Bruce being announced, Bruce's induction speech, Bruce inducts Frank Sinatra, Bruce jams with the Hubcaps before "Glory Days."

Setlist:
I Thank You
Glory Days


May 2 / Ft. Lauderdale, FL / Bank Atlantic Center
Notes:
With this their seventh Magic show in the less than two weeks since Danny Federici's death, Springsteen and the E Street Band have made it to the end of the spring leg in fine style. Wrapping things up at the rescheduled Ft. Lauderdale show, energy was back up after a little dip in Charlottesville, with the band on top of their game tonight.

The tour premieres keep coming, with "I Wanna Be With You" getting its first outing for an audience that was worthy of the sentiment -- a tremendous crowd. While "Streets of Fire" has inexplicably remained unplayed since Milwaukee, despite numerous appearences on the handwritten setlist for this recent stretch, "This Hard Land" made good on recent setlist teasers and was great to hear.

A long story before "Growin' Up" was about Danny's love for CB Radio -- "a really, really crude version of a localized internet," Bruce observed. In '69, Springsteen's parents moved out to California, and on the same day, the band moved in. Danny, Clarence, Mad Dog, and Garry -- that lasted exactly 30 days, Bruce said, before the landlord kicked them out. But while they were there, Mad Dog kicked out the window on the second floor so he and Danny could go up to the roof and mess around on the CB -- Bruce said he'd come home and find "a lot of truckers sitting in the living room."

In the encore, "Thunder Road" was played for Barbara Carr and Soozie Tyrell. "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" featured a special guest -- James Michael Brown is their airplane pilot, "and he plays the trumpet!" said Bruce. So with Mike joining Clarence, the horn section effectively doubled. And there was one more magic trick in store after "American Land" -- after the bows, Bruce said, "This is our last night!" and offered one more visit from Kitty to close out the leg.

Setlist:
The Promised Land
I Wanna Be With You
Radio Nowhere
Out in the Street
This Hard Land
Gypsy Biker
Growin' Up
Candy's Room
Prove It All Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Rosalita
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (with James Michael Brown on trumpet)
American Land
Kitty's Back

April 30 / Charlottesville, VA / John Paul Jones Arena
Notes:
A spirited start for this sold-out show, with "Loose Ends" another Tracks rarity to kick it off, just as "Roulette" and "Don't Look Back" started the night on a high at the previous barnburner in Greensboro. "Mary's Place" turned up again, too -- but that's where the affinity between the two shows end, Charlottesville being one where things didn't quite click. Hard to say, but it could be that after more than a week of channeling so much into the performance, an emotional drain has understandably taken its toll. Whatever the reason, this was a shorter show, with a less inspired setlist and a performance coming up short of others on this astounding recent run. The penultimate show of a leg has been one to watch on Springsteen tours, often turning out to be the stand-out... not so this time.

"No Surrender" was an audible, the message not quite reaching everyone at the start -- "Hang on, we're getting there!" said Bruce. On the setlist but not played were "This Hard Land" (Bruce had the harmonica in hand, but let this one go, leaving only "Mary's Place" between "Livin' in the Future" and "Devil's Arcade"), "Streets of Fire" (given the boot again!), and "I Wanna Be With You."

"For You" was tonight's oldie going out to Danny, and Springsteen came up with more fun tales of the old days, this time about how they got around to gigs. At first, it was Mad Dog's car. "That was uncomfortable," Bruce said, "because the Big Man took up a lot of room." Then they stepped up to an Econoline van. "That was uncomfortable, because the Big Man took up a lot of room." Then it was a Jersey Central bus, modified with cots in the back, and Bruce shared his technique for putting his hand down to keep from rolling off when they took a curve. Finally they graduated to "country singer buses," and a memory of Danny, who "fell out of the middle bunk, bounced across the wall, fell to the floor, and grabbed a bag to use as a pillow... all without waking up." Bruce also recalled that their first gig as a band was opening up for Cheech & Chong, and as their set went on, someone tugged on Bruce's shirt with a mesage: "Cheech says it's time to get off the stage."

There was notably strong guitar work tonight -- Nils, as always; Steve shining on "Gypsy Biker"; Bruce taking a mean lead on "Adam Raised a Cain." And even a rare off-night still brings something like "Meeting Across the River" into "Jungleland," with Springsteen in fine voice. Before that magical pairing that started the 4/5 Born to Run encore, Bruce recalled the old days again, saying, "We've always been connected to Virginia. We could play two places in those days -- we could play New Jersey, and we could play Richmond." He also gave a shout-out to his old Steel Meel bandmate Robbin Thompson, who was in the house tonight. That house was packed, a new and attractive smaller venue with not a single seat left open; but it was an intimate setting unfortunately not parlayed into a particularly special show.
-Photographs by Guy Aceto

Setlist:
Loose Ends
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
The Promised Land
Magic
Gypsy Biker
For You
Adam Raised a Cain
Prove It All Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Meeting Across the River
Jungleland
Born to Run
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
American Land

April 28 / Greensboro, NC / Greensboro Coliseum
Notes:
The second of two Carolina shows, and here in Junior Johnson territory you probably would have gotten even money on "Cadillac Ranch" to open. Leave it to Bruce to go for the longshot odds instead: a killer opening duo of "Roulette" into "Don't Look Back." Both were tour premieres, both studio outtakes from the '70s that later turned up on Tracks, and, like "Reason to Believe" in Atlanta, both left me saying, "Okay, that's how you start a show." Charging out of the gate, they set the tone for a high-energy performance, the best of this Southern swing so far. (And as any good Southerner knows, that doesn't include Florida.)

The hushed "Magic" returned to the set after a hiatus, with Sister Soozie Tyrell's wonderful vocal duet. But then it was back to the intensity of the show's beginnings, with a mean "Gypsy Biker." In Charlotte Bruce cut this one a little short, but here it stretched out nicely with a great Bruce/Steve guitar duel. Next up was "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City," sent out "for our old pal," Danny Federici. "He had nine lives, and he used up about five of mine," Springsteen laughed, also recalling Danny's habit of liberating stuff from here and there. A hilarious story about finding Danny in the hotel elevator with a screwdriver: "A towel's not good enough for him -- he's gotta take the elevator buttons!" "Saint in the City" was a blast, ending with a monster guitar/drums crescendo courtesy of Bruce and Max.

"See if we know this one," Bruce said after "Livin' in the Future" -- always a good sign. While the first strains of "Mary's Place" might have raised a few groans from those of us who tired of the protracted version from the Rising and Vote for Change tours, it proved to be a whole lot of fun. Tight, crowd way into it, nice and horn-heavy (mostly synth horns, to be clear, but more than good enough), it actually felt like a breath of fresh air tonight.

"Badlands": you better believe Clarence was right on top of his solo tonight. And after his "Roulette" rolls to start the show, Max bookended the main set with more of the how-does-he-do-it drumming madness that's now a "Badlands" highlight -- as if the song needed something else to pump your fist over.

Leading off the encore, a beautiful "Backstreets" always warms my heart, especially right down the road from the Backstreets HQ. "Ramrod" had the crowd positively roaring before Stevie declared "Boss time," but the coolest part of that one was Clarence lending Bruce his hat, Springsteen wearing it well and strutting across the stage while the Big Man wailed. Props to the Granite Falls Middle School contingent behind the stage and their enormous banner judiciously displayed: "We've busted out of class!" And on a school night, even. You got a good one, kids.
-Photographs by Guy Aceto

Setlist:
Roulette
Don't Look Back
Radio Nowhere
Out in the Street
The Promised Land
Magic
Gypsy Biker
It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City
Trapped
Because the Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Backstreets
Bobby Jean
Born to Run
Ramrod
American Land

April 27 / Charlotte, NC / Bobcats Arena
Notes:
"Nothing could be finer," said Bruce, and with the Magic tour finally coming to my home state, I gotta agree. Yet another unique song to open the show: the tour premiere, at long last, of a smoldering "Souls of the Departed." Great to have some '92 material represented in the set, and not only is it a perfect thematic fit for the Magic tour, it got another layer of meaning coming right after the Danny Federici tribute montage. Killer bottleneck slide work from Nils, too.

"We've been digging back in the box," Bruce said before the new oldie slot, adding "We're gonna put the Professor to the test," as Roy strapped on the accordion. Garry was put to the test, too, as he picked up his old tuba for "Wild Billy's Circus Story." Before they went into the ultra-rarity, Bruce talked about Danny winning the Ted Mack Amateur Hour as a kid ("His Mom sewed him up a gold lamé jacket!") and the Phantom's penchant for trouble (Danny and Mad Dog being the "unruly citizens" of E Street). He added the story from his eulogy about Danny's car getting towed with a marijuana plant in the front seat, and Danny going straight into the slammer. "That's a short one... but they all ended the same!" laughed Bruce. "My favorite phone call from Danny was always, 'Bruce, come quick!'"

A sign read "I like you better than Hannah Montana" on one side, and Bruce quipped "My aspirations have been realized -- we can go home now!" before granting the request: "Darlington County." That audible took the place of the setlisted "Streets of Fire," to some fans' dismay... but it was a fun Carolina special, and Bruce was happy to get some help up on stage for the sha-la-las: "She can sing!"

If Clarence were a J.B., he would have incurred a major fine on "Badlands," as the moment for his big solo caught him completely off guard, his mind apparently elsewhere. Whether or not the Boss docks his pay, the blown cue was good for a laugh (certainly a sheepish one from Clarence), and Bruce said, "Let's try that one more time!" As the band came back around for him, the Big Man nailed it the second time. Between that and the bonus ending for the loudly chanting crowd, it felt like something of a "Badlands" extended remix.

In the encore, "Kitty's Back" smoked, and for the show closing "American Land" -- an audible, believe it or not, replacing the setlisted "Stand on It" -- "Cousin Frankie" joined in the fun. That's local boy Frank Bruno, Jr. from the Sessions Band, strumming hard on the acoustic and singing along.

Setlist:
Souls of the Departed
Radio Nowhere
Night
The Promised Land
Wild Billy's Circus Story
Reason to Believe
Gypsy Biker
Candy's Room
Prove It All Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Darlington County
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Lost in the Flood
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Thunder Road
Kitty's Back
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land (with Frank Bruno, Jr.)

April 25 / Atlanta, GA / Philips Arena
Notes: For the third show in four nights, Bruce is clearly keen to retain the element of surprise. He's writing setlists that veer dramatically off the course he'd set for so much of the Magic tour, and then when it comes time to perform, he's even shaking that up. Tonight in Atlanta, after opening with that high-octane "Reason to Believe" for the first time, two of the next three songs were audibles. That's keeping it interesting for everyone -- particularly in the first half of the show, there was no telling what would come next. And the crowd ate it up -- the Philips Arena ain't exactly intimate, but the place was packed to the rafters, and into it.

Eleven songs played in Atlanta that didn't come out in Orlando, including a magnificent "Point Blank," "Trapped," and "Murder Incorporated," with a great Bruce/Stevie guitar duel that made us miss "Gypsy Biker" at least a little less. Only six songs from Magic, though this was the city of its birth... and with "Lonesome Day" dropped out (and "Out in the Street" in), my pop rightly noted halfway through that it felt like the Reunion tour. Though not as well represented, Magic did get a deeper cut played tonight -- Bruce broke out "Your Own Worst Enemy," which he said was "in honor of producer extraordinaire Brendan O'Brien." He added, "It won't be as good as the record, but we'll try." And it was impressive, the full-sounding four-part vocals at least coming close to replicating the record's wall of sound.

Getting its tour premiere was "Blinded By the Light," in the slot that brought "Spirit" and "Sandy" the last few nights. "I want to thank you for all the prayers and condolences for Danny," Springsteen told the crowd before the song (and we got the video montage at the start of the show, too). "We appreciate it very much. His family appreciates it very much. We've been digging into the 'old' box these last few nights," he said to cheers, going on to reminisce a bit about the early days of the band, meeting at the Upstage in Asbury Park. "I met Steve at 16, Danny at 18... Danny and Mad Dog asked me to be in the band.... It was me, Danny, Garry, 'Mad Dog' Lopez, and Clarence. Just a little five piece -- with a setlist of masterpieces," Bruce laughed. "We know this one!" A rocky start, but yeah, they knew it, and "Blinded" was a blast.

"Bobby Jean" was a granted request-by-sign, and while I'd never put Sharpie to posterboard for that one myself, I was glad I kept my ears open: I heard a power and a poignancy in that song tonight that, to me, has been missing for a long time. More audibles came in the encore, with "Kitty's Back" replaced by "Rosalita" -- "This is for New Orleans!" Bruce hollered, in response to another sign -- and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" in for "Dancing in the Dark." Think you can pin Bruce down? Kid, you better get the picture.
-Photographs by Guy Aceto

Setlist:
Reason to Believe
Out in the Street
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Blinded By the Light
Your Own Worst Enemy
Trapped
Murder Incorporated
Prove It All Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Bobby Jean
Point Blank
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Rosalita
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
American Land

April 23 / Orlando, FL / Amway Arena
Notes: More greatness in Florida. Tonight's was an energetic, unpredictable show, with the standard setlist (including much of Magic) all but thrown out the window. A tour premiere -- one of four -- started things off. When word of Tampa's Danny Federici montage started going around, the video tribute with a musical backing of "Blood Brothers," there was some initial confusion: was it the recorded studio version, or played live? Tonight, the Orlando crowd got both. After the montage, Bruce and the band revisited "Blood Brothers" in a new live arrangement, more akin to the Alternate Version on the Blood Brothers EP, a fierce performance with no question who it was for, especially as Springsteen repeated the singular "my blood brother."

"Spirit in the Night" was "for Dan," too, a very physical performance from Bruce, hanging every which way from the mic stand. And the oldies just kept on coming, with the tour premiere of "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?" "Gonna test the band's memories," said Bruce, "We did 'Growin' Up' last night, and we're gonna try to get through this one." (Soon, he had reason to add, "I don't remember it!") "Prove It All Night" found Nils reaching new heights and even finding new sounds on his solo, wowing veryone, Bruce and the band included.

"Fire" was the local radio pick-a-song contest winner, giving Springsteen occasion for his longest, funniest banter to date on this tour. "This is what puzzles me," he said about the contests, mention of which got little to no reaction from the crowd, "Every time I mention it, every one says I don't know!... This was a management decision." He also gave a history of the song, saying he originally wrote it for Elvis and jumped the Graceland wall with Steve to try to get it to him ("Don't go trying that at my house, now!"), recalling covers by the Pointer Sisters and Robert Gordon, and highly recommending the latter's "All for the Love of Rock & Roll" wih his band Tuff Darts ("Go home and look it up on your damn thing," Bruce said, miming fingers on a keyboard). And then there was Babyface's "Fire" cover: "The best version I ever heard. I was sure it was a hit -- I ran out and bought a new car. But the cruel vicissitudes of rock 'n' roll... it wasn't. I should have been sitting on the beach with my new car parked at the curb."

"Lost in the Flood" up next -- forget talk, all action. This one killed, as did Bruce's solo.

In the encore, perhaps the biggest treat of the night, "the incredible Roger McGuinn" joined the band for two songs. Bruce set the bar high with his introduction, praising the Byrds leader for singlehandedly inventing Folk Rock, Space Rock, and for his profound influence on Bruce and the band. At 15, Springsteen said, on a little stero in his room, "I played that first Byrds album over 200 times in the dark." McGuinn did not disappoint, taking lead for "Turn! Turn! Turn!" and trading verses with Bruce on "Mr. Tambourine Man," a knock-out guest spot that was clearly a thrill for the band. Just one look would have told you Steve was in heaven, he and Roger playing matching black, 12-string Rickenbackers. "Some of the most beautiful music ever written and sung," Bruce declared, before offering up one of his own that could arguably fit that description. It was "Jungleland," an audible, played by request -- "Kitty's Back" was on the setlist, but with all those "Jungleland" signs, how could he not?
-Photographs by Michael Zorn

Setlist:
Blood Brothers (Alt. Version)
Night
Radio Nowhere
Out in the Street
Spirit in the Night
The River
Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
Candy's Room
Prove It All Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Fire
Lost in the Flood
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Turn! Turn! Turn! (with Roger McGuinn)
Mr. Tambourine Man (with Roger McGuinn)
Jungleland
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

April 22 / Tampa, FL / St. Pete Times Forum
Notes:
And the show goes on. Eight days after their last performance, five days after the passing of Danny Federici, and just one day after the funeral service, Bruce and the E Street Band took the stage in Tampa. There was no question that they'd be honoring Danny's memory tonight. The real question might have been, how would they do it? The answer: by acknowledging the magnitude of the loss, by embracing Danny's contributions to the band, by tapping a deep well of emotion and playing their hearts out all night.

The night began with a film montage. Bruce and the E Streeters came out and turned to watch the screen behind Max's drums, standing stone-still as archival footage and stills from Danny's life (remember that long, flowing hair?) played out across it, set to "Blood Brothers." Patti was there, too, for her first show of 2008 -- the E Street Band out in full force. A spotlight, meanwhile, lit up Danny's organ riser (where his accordion was propped, too), and remained shining on the empty station for the band's first song of the night, "Backstreets." Bruce gave a raw and emotional howl at the end, and as he pointed to the organ, the light faded.

After the poignant opening, Charlie Giordano came out to join the band from "Radio Nowhere" on, remaining as subtle and discreet as you could possibly imagine on this night, while doing his job and doing it well. But emotional -- even emotionally draining -- as it was, it wasn't a somber occasion. This was an intense performance, with each member of the band electrified. Solos -- Max on "Badlands," Steve on "Gypsy Biker," Roy on "Racing in the Street" (yes, they did "Racing,") Nils on "Because the Night" -- burned even brighter. And Bruce himself put it all out there, starting with a thematic setlist clearly tailored to recall Federici's place in this band of brothers and the impact of his musicianship on Springsteen's work.


After "Gypsy Biker," Charlie moved over to the piano as Roy strapped on the accordion for "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)." "We want to thank you for all your prayers and condolences," Springseen told the crowd. "Roy, you better get this right -- somebody's watching." Soozie and Patti offered beautiful harmonies, and it was a magical performance of "Sandy." Bruce wiped away tears and gave Roy a kiss. "One more fairy tale," he said, leading the band into "Growin' Up." That song recalled the old days in more ways than one, as Bruce began a little story during the instrumental break with that familiar phrase, "There we were..."

"There we were, on the highest hill in Flemington, New Jersey... It was a sunny, hot summer morning... and the preacher said... 'I took month-long vacations in the stratosphere...'"

"Thank you so much for coming out tonight and helping us through," Bruce said as they came out for the encore. And he wasn't just talkin': the crowd -- unusually full for a postponed show -- was there at every turn, giving the energy back on sing-alongs like "Badlands," "Out in the Street," and "Waitin' on a Sunny Day." For the first encore song, Bruce pulled out the premiere of an old gospel standby, "I'll Fly Away." This one went out to Danny, of course, and everyone came down front -- even Max, on tambourine -- for a rousing rendition with a Seeger Sessions feel. Bruce called it "New Jersey bluegrass."


A few songs later, "Spirit in the Night" was setlisted, but Bruce chose to replace it with one of the only unplanned songs of the night -- "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out." It was a fine choice, recalling the formation of the legendary band that Danny Federici was a part of from the beginning, its lyrics equal parts exasperation, determination, and celebration. Teardrops on the city, yes... and tonight they busted it in half for Danny.


-Photographs by Rene van Diemen (1, 3); A.M. Saddler (2, 5); and Michael Zorn (4, 6)

Setlist:
Backstreets
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
No Surrender
Gypsy Biker
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Growin' Up
Atlantic City
Because the Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Brilliant Disguise
Racing in the Street
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
Out in the Street
* * *
I'll Fly Away
Rosalita
Born to Run
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
American Land

April 14 / Houston, TX / Toyota Center
Notes:
Houston, we have... no problems. A phenomenal show tonight for the second of two in Texas. Just outside of Amarillo, the Cadillac Ranch sits there gleaming in the sun... tonight in Houston, that song started us off -- making 11 shows running with a unique opener. A good bit of setlist shuffling followed, one of those nights where things really felt free-form, and you didn't quite know what was coming next: "Gypsy Biker" dropped out for the first time, replaced by "Atlantic City"; "Reason to Believe" was gone, too.

So what made it in? "Out in the Street" -- which has both opened and closed the main set on this leg -- turned up in the middle. "The E Street Shuffle," in its first performance of 2008, was played by request for a kid in the crowd; Bruce said he probably wrote the song before the boy's grandaddy was born. Next up, a world premiere, Bruce saying those magic words: "We haven't done this." It was "Terry's Song," the moving, unlisted track from Magic, played in honor of Terry Magovern. Bruce said, "A friend of mine for 23 years... today would have been his 68th birthday." Roy led it off on the piano, with just Charlie, Max, Bruce on acoustic, and Nils on backing vocals for a sparse and reverential performance. Musically and thematically, it was a powerful lead-in to "Devils Arcade," which found Bruce on his knees to begin the song.

A note-perfect "Thunder Road" closed the set in style after the five-pack, but it was the encore where things really cooked. Not one but two special guests in the encore: at the previous show, Dallas got "a double shot of Jersey" in the form of Jon Bon Jovi, but Houston got a pair of true Texans, both Austinites. "I've always been a fan of the Texas songwriters," said Bruce, and he demonstrated it by playing with two of the best of his Lone Star State contemporaries: Alejandro Escovedo and Joe Ely.

First off, man, what an absolute thrill to finally have Alejandro -- a longtime Backstreets fave -- on stage with the Boss. "He's been putting out good music for so long," Springsteen said, and we agree -- Escovedo's former bands include the Nuns, Rank & File, and the True Believers, and he's been offering up incredible solo records since the early '90s. (Also of note, he very recently signed with Jon Landau Management). For Alejandro, the E Street Band learned "Always a Friend," the lead single from his forthcoming album Real Animal. "One of the best he's ever made," Bruce said, plugging the album twice, "Due June 10th!"

And then, "There's got to be some other Texans around here..." and out came another of our heroes -- Flatlander, Clash tourmate, and all-around bad-ass Joe Ely -- for "All Just to Get to You" (which he and Bruce recorded together on Ely's 1995 album, Letter to Laredo). And it rocked.

With those two barnburners kicking it off, energy stayed high for the rest of the encore, featuring "Rosalita" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out." For the Freeze-out, Springsteen held a backbend from the mic stand so deep and long you thought he might have actually frozen there; on "Rosie," he was channeling Curly of the Three Stooges: "Whoop-whoop-whoop-whoop!" Couldn't have said it better ourselves. A brain-meltingly good show. Just ask Alejandro, who told Backstreets at the end of the night: "It was my best musical experience, ever."

Setlist:
Cadillac Ranch
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Atlantic City
Magic
Because the Night
Candy's Room
She's the One
Out in the Street
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
The E Street Shuffle
Terry's Song
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
Thunder Road
* * *
Always a Friend (w/ Alejandro Escovedo)
All Just to Get to You (w/ Joe Ely)
Rosalita
Born to Run
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
American Land

April 13 / Dallas, TX / American Airlines Center
Notes: T is for Texas, as Jimmie Rodgers sang, and T is for "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out," which opened up tonight's show in Dallas. This was the Magic tour's first stop in Texas, and they got a strong one -- Bruce in high spirits, great energy, fast pace, the band in fine form. After "Magic," it was a string of powerhouses, from "Trapped" through "She's the One." "Prove It All Night" and "Because the Night" were in there back-to-back, and though it's disappointing to see Nils' solo dropped from "Prove It," it's probably the right call to save it up for him to wail on "Because the Night."

With Patti still absent, Bruce's tales of havoc back home are growing. This time he told the crowd that as he was leaving, "the black helicopters were hovering, the pot cookies were coming out of the oven... and all my favorite clothes were going up on eBay!" Patti'll take care of that.

For anyone who never quite felt "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" as an encore opener, tonight it moved to the main set and felt good after "The Promised Land." From there it was on to the tour premiere of "Independence Day," featuring Nils on pedal steel but remaining quite true to the recorded River arrangement -- very nice.

Tthe five-pack was back, after Bruce broke it up in Anaheim, "Devil's Arcade" and "The Rising" reclaiming their spots. "Out in the Street" was a setlisted possibility once again, but Bruce went back to closing the main set with "Badlands."

This was Max Weinberg's birthday show -- Happy Birthday, Max! -- so Bruce brought him out for a special curtain call as the encores begain, even though the drummer wouldn't be part of the next song... "Meeting Across the River" was first up, which of course segued into "Jungeland."

That always-welcome pairing was a reprise from the last show in California. The surprise came a couple songs later, when Bruce brought out a special guest. With Bon Jovi set to play this very venue on Monday night, Jon got quite a warm-up, taking the first verse of "Glory Days" and trading vocals with Bruce throughout the rest of the song. Springsteen called it "a double shot of Jersey," and JBJ followed up by telling the crowd, "You're in trouble!" It's not likely that other Springsteen audiences will be in similar hot water; checking out Bon Jovi's itinerary, it looks like their paths won't cross again on this tour.

After Mr. Jovi waved goodbye, a whole gaggle of "guests" were on stage for the next song. Earlier in the set, Springsteen had taken notice of a group of young girls in the pit, saying "We got a wild bunch over here!" Average age, he asked, "Ten? Eight?... Have any of you ever heard of a song called 'Born to Run'?" He was playfully chagrined at their repsonse (or lack thereof), and later decided to give them their moment with an audibled "Dancing in the Dark." The girls came up, their chaperones did too; someone else saw a window, and before you knew it it was practically a free-for-all. No less than 17 audience members were up on stage before security got wise, for a spotlight dance usually reserved for one or none. Hey, everything's bigger in Texas.
-Photographs by Alan Chitlik

Setlist:
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Trapped
Reason to Believe
Prove It All Night
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Independence Day
Devil's Arcade
The Rising

Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Meeting Across the River
Jungleland
Born to Run
Glory Days (with Jon Bon Jovi)
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

April 8 / Anaheim, CA / Honda Center
Notes:
"Who was here last night?" Bruce asked at the second Anaheim show, to a huge cheer. "Get out, there's no way -- really, who was here last night?" And an even bigger cheer. "We're going to have to change it up!" Energy remained high, and guitars remained loud, no need to change any of that. But otherwise, Springsteen was true to his word, with not only a significant number of different songs from night one, as expected, but also a radical change to the structure, expanding the front half and breaking up the end-of-set five-pack for the first time.

"Thunder Road" opened for the first time with the E Street Band since early on the Born in the U.S.A. tour. And remember early on this tour when there was just a three-pack between "Magic" and "Livin' in the Future"? The old "Reason to Believe"/"She's the One" sandwich? Well, that's become a Dagwood. Six songs in there tonight, including "Atlantic City," "Candy's Room," "Prove It" -- Nils stayed on acoustic, no solo on this one, as they were saving it for the next one -- "Because the Night."

The first "Brilliant Disguise" of 2008 featured nice backup from Soozie, though not quite the duet it had been when Patti was on the road. And then, so as to not fix what ain't broke: Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello was back once more for "The Ghost of Tom Joad," and it was another gobsmacking performance. Tommy again took two solos, the second one back in the stratosphere. One repeater tells us: "Sometimes a song can impact you largely due to the surprise. This was not the case with the electrified 'Joad' -- it was as stunning the second time as the first (or more, if you hit YouTube during the day)." And that went right into "Last to Die" -- no "Devil's Arcade," no "Rising" -- with "Badlands" again followed by a bonus "Out in the Street" to close the set. Is this goodbye to the Big Five, as Bruce and the E Street Band start looking to evolve out of arenas? Or just a shake-up for a Night Two? Time will tell.

"Meeting" into "Jungleland" was a sweet gift to repeat attendees in the encore as Bruce said, "Thanks for coming out. Thank you to those who came back. We actually have a very small audience, they just come to all the shows!" And there was a particularly sweet gift for a six-year-old girl, who got to be Bruce's partner on "Dancing in the Dark."

Setlist:
Thunder Road
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Murder Incorporated
Magic
Atlantic City
Candy's Room
Reason to Believe
Prove It All Night
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Brilliant Disguise
The Ghost of Tom Joad (w/ Tom Morello)
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
Out in the Street
* * *
Meeting Across the River
Jungleland
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark

American Land

April 7 / Anaheim, CA / Honda Center
Notes:
Bruce said it himself, after "Murder Incorporated": "We're out for blood!" True enough, it was a monster show -- energy high, Bruce loose, surprise songs and surprise guests taking the whole thing even higher.

Keeping the string of unique openers going, Bruce hollered to Steve, "I see a light up there!" before launching into the tour premiere of a streamlined "Light of Day." So it was frenetic from the start, and the crowd ate it up -- Bruce mixed in a few bars of "California Sun" for them, too. Blistering selections like "Murder Incorporated" and "Trapped" kept the intensity up. The night's radio station poll winner was "Because the Night," and as usual, Nils cranked out another mind-blowing guitar solo. A few songs later, though, he had some stiff competition... or, on second thought, let's call it a fellow traveler.

After "Working on the Highway," Bruce made the introduction: "I've got a close friend of mine here with me tonight, gonna come up and do a song -- Mister Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine!" And the crowd goes wild. "Tommy also makes great acoustic records, as The Nightwatchman," Bruce added, but there was little acoustic about this premiere of "The Ghost of Tom Joad." It was a pounding, full-band electric arrangement, featuring Nils on pedal steel, Charlie Giordano on accordion, and Morello on guitar (to put it mildly) and vocals. Imagine a combination of RATM's "Joad," which they released in the '90s, and the E Street Band's take on "Youngstown." Or heck, hear it for yourself. Bruce and Tom traded vocals -- Bruce taking the first verse, Tom the second, and they split the third -- and here was a case of a guy who was prepared for his guest spot. Morello nailed it. On the six-string, Morello was no slouch at all during the song, but for the climax it was just a massive, words-fail-us solo, in his inimitable style. The band was focused on Morello as he played, one of the few times you'll see them watching something other than Bruce. The highlight of the show, and one of the the highlights of the tour, for that matter.

Bruce was clearly feeling juiced by set's end, as he kept things going after "Badlands" for the first time, calling for "Out in the Street" to ride the wave of momentum. The encore had him calling out for "California girls... California girls... come on, thrill me, I'm getting old!" After a rollicking "Rosalita," more guests joined in: Bobby Bandiera on "Ramrod"; Sessions Band players Marty Rifkin and Marc Anthony Thompson for the show-closing "American Land." Plenty of signs in the crowd, with fans hoping to capitalize on Bruce's recent penchant for taking requests, but he wasn't having it tonight. And clearly, there's something to be said for Springsteen making his own plans.
-Photographs by Levrock.com

Setlist:
Light of Day
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Murder Incorporated
Magic
Trapped
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Working on the Highway
The Ghost of Tom Joad (w/ Tom Morello)
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
Out in the Street
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Rosalita
Born to Run
Ramrod (w/ Bobby Bandiera)
American Land (w/ Marty Rifkin and Marc Anthony Thompson)

April 5 / San Jose, CA / HP Pavilion
Notes:
Just down the road a piece -- only a couple hours' drive from the previous night's show in Sacramento -- San Jose got a radically divergent setlist, with ten songs not played the night before, and a distinct mood shift all the way around. The playful, loose Bruce was largely sidelined, replaced by the more in-control bandleader. Whereas "party time" was the key word on Friday, on Saturday it was "orchestral." The sound was gorgeous, and it was the right show for that: a note-perfect "Something in the Night" and a stunning "Incident on 57th Street" being cases in point. The orchestral feel of "Bobby Jean," too, was highlighted in its tour debut as the next-to-last number. So, not nearly the frenetic, what-will-happen next feel of Friday, but by no means a letdown -- just another side of Bruce.

The radio winner, courtesy of KFOG, was the tour premiere of "Fire" -- and it was a blast, with Bruce and Clarence mugging and milking the Romeo and Juliet part for all it was worth. Rather than opening the set with the contest pick, as they did in Sacremento, Bruce put it in the middle (calling the poll a "fabulous marketing plan to put the fannies in the seats"). Instead, another tour premiere kicked off the show, the surprise debut of "Out in the Street," complete with aduience call-and-response (and the crowd was right there all night). More shake-ups: "Trapped" had the whole crowd singing and pumping their fists; "Reason to Believe" was thankfully back in after just a one-show absence; Nils' spotlight number was "Prove It" instead of "Because the Night."

Tons of signs, once again -- the "Something in the Night" placard Bruce grabbed was double-sided, so it was unclear at first if they'd be playing that one of "Streets of Fire." Either would have been just fine. "Incident Por Favor" was another granted request, and the audibled encore opener was played for a sign that read "Ain't Too Proud to Beg for the Detroit Medley." Bruce also held up a sign reading "Bruce, You're My Real Dad" as he recalled, "I was in these parts in 1969...." But the topper -- literally -- was a guy in the front of the pit with "Glory Days" written on his forehead in black marker. Bruce pulled him on stage and marched him over to the camera to give everyone a good look, then launched the band into the song, which drew a huge reaction from the crowd. Now that's using your head.
- Photographs by Joseph Quever

Setlist:
Out in the Street
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Something in the Night
Magic
Trapped
Reason to Believe
Prove It All Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Fire
Incident on 57th Street
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Detroit Medley
Born to Run
Glory Days
Bobby Jean
American Land

April 4 / Sacramento, CA / Arco Arena
Notes:
A real Friday night kind of show. Between "Spirit in the Night," "Sherry Darling," and "Rosalita" (not to mention his description of what Patti was guarding against back home as he left: "the beer kegs were rolling up the driveway, the pot brownies were in the oven, and the Girls Gone Wild tour bus was pulling up!"), it seemed Bruce had youthful partying on the brain.

"Spirit" wasn't quite a surprise, since it was the winner of the KSEG pick-a-song contest, but who expected it to kick off the show? So the first song of the night found Bruce sitting on the edge of the stage, his legs hanging into the crowd, looking at one point like he might even jump off. More dynamism as Bruce threw in some Townshend-esque windmills at the end of "Gypsy Biker"; after a breather with "Magic," the wailing guitars continued on the tour premiere of "Murder Incorporated." It looked like "Reason to Belive" would follow, but Bruce waved it off (for the first time this tour) in favor of "Candy's Room," and the breathlessness continued from there through "Because the Night" and "She's the One."

Jeff Bristow reports: "This show was a completely different tone from the two Oakland shows this past fall. Then, it was Bruce and the band working very hard, playing hard, and a few nice surprises here and there. Great shows, but they had a very structured feel to them. Sacramento seemed to be all about having a blast. When they opened with 'Spirit in the Night,' one of the things I noticed early on was how much fun Bruce seemed to be having. For a song that has been played very little on the tour, they nailed it. And the crowd was completely into it.

"And that mood carried through the rest of the night. Bruce just seemed to be having a lot of fun with the songs and the crowd, at times he just seemed almost goofy, in a good way! I managed to check out the setlist a few songs in, and there was a big difference between what was on that paper and what was played, lots of audibles. I know for a fact that 'Sherry Darling,' 'Candy's Room,' and 'Rosalita' were not on the list. 'Incident,' 'Thunder Road,' and 'Reason to Believe' were. But I can see why the changes were made, with Bruce having so much fun and the crowd eating it up, those songs might have slowed things down, where this was just one big party. Oh, and Nils killed on his solo for 'Because the Night.'

"On the Rising tour we got a very special show in Sac, and tonight was as good, if not better. It was one of those nights where it felt like anything could happen, and I haven’t seen him having this much of a good time on stage probably since the Born in the U.S.A. tour."

Signs were part of the fun last night, too -- and not just song requests. During "Livin' in the Future," Bruce plucked a "Clarence for President" sign out of the crowd, and after carrying it for a while he set it up againts Nils' mic stand, where it stayed for the remainder of the show. After "Sherry," Bruce was visibly looking for signs, with Steve calling his attention to one for "Held Up Without a Gun." Bruce remarked, into the mic, "We can't do that one." Finally spotting one for "Backstreets," Bruce pointed to it and gave the band their cue. Two more audibles in the encore, with Bruce propping a "Rosie" sign on the stage as they played that one, and going on to replace the setlisted "Glory Days" with "Ramrod."
- Photographs by Joseph Quever

Setlist:
Spirit in the Night
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Murder Incorporated
Candy's Room
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Sherry Darling
Backstreets
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Rosalita
Born to Run
Ramrod
American Land

March 31 / Vancouver, BC / GM Place
Notes:
Hot off an outstanding night in Seattle, and playing their third Pacific Northwest show in four days, Springsteen and the E Street Band brought some of the Emerald City magic north of the border to Vancover. Namely, three of the songs that made the Seattle show such a special one: "Trapped," "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out," and "Rosalita," all reprised here.

But Bruce wasn't content with a repeat; two more tour premieres kept the setlist progression rolling. Right off the bat was "Atlantic City," a classic E Street arrangement that somehow never gets tired, and a righteous opening shot (along with "Night" in Portland and "Trapped" in Seattle, what a powerhouse trio of openers for the PNW).

Later in the set was another tour premiere -- a world premiere with the E Street Band, in fact -- and if we'd reported it on April Fool's Day, you might have thought it was a joke. For two decades, "None But the Brave" was a long-lost Born in the U.S.A. outtake, overlooked by the 1998 Tracks box set, beloved by hardcore fans and tape traders and virtually unknown otherwise. In 2003, Springsteen finally released the song on Disc 3 of Essential, and that December he debuted the song live at his Asbury Park holiday shows.... but it still remains one of those under-appreciated, under-the-radar cuts. Nearly five years later, "None But the Brave" gets its first E Street in-concert treatment. Nice to see it come out into the light.

A much more sparsely attended show than Seattle, and a general drop in crowd energy, too. But Bruce kept it turned on from his end -- check out Air Springsteen! -- and it must be said, Nils continues to astound with his "Because the Night" guitar wizardry. Still no Patti: "the fort must be guarded," says Bruce.
- Photographs by Joseph Quever

Setlist:
Atlantic City
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Trapped
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
None But the Brave
The River
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Rosalita
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land


March 29 / Seattle, WA / Key Arena
Notes:
Saturday's 24-song set found Springsteen and the E Street Band at the top of their game, delivering a stellar performance to a sold-out house. This show drew on the hallmarks of this tour: it was lean and fast, but never felt rushed. With the surprise opener -- "Trapped," in its tour debut -- Bruce and the band began to establish their energy and pace, and they maintained it throughout the show. When Springsteen remarked that they were "flying by the seat of our pants," he was referring to nothing more than a minor technical glitch that delayed the sound from the organ on the first song. "A little panic is good for the system," said Springsteen.

Even better is the musicianship that was the rule in this show: "Reason to Believe" stood tall once again, and Nils Lofgren's solo in "Because the Night" elicited one of the evening's more enthused repsonses for its technical and sonic wizardry. The E Street Band sounds as powerful and cohesive on this number as it ever has, and tonight's version was a prime example. After a rare "Your Own Worst Enemy" (played "for Ed" -- Vedder, we presume), "Point Blank" made its tour debut and brought an even sharper focus onto the band's range and feel for a rarely-played song, as Charles Giordano and Steve Van Zandt provided an eerie vibe with their respective instruments.

Throughout, the music sounded tight, the band appeared relaxed, and they stayed in a groove to the finish. Although the encore was one or two songs shorter than usual, one longtime Springsteen observer remarked that "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" (last played in December) and "Rosalita" both "felt like a breath of fresh air" (in both instances, Springsteen took signs from the audience). In sum, it was an incredible night. That wasn't just a refrain from fans: that was what Springsteen thanked the audience for as he took his final bow and walked off stage.
- Report by Jonathan Pont, photographs by Joseph Quever

Setlist:
Trapped
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Your Own Worst Enemy
Point Blank
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Rosalita
Born to Run
American Land


March 28 / Portland, OR / The Rose Garden
Notes:
Friday night's show at the Rose Garden had its moments, but it took a while for them to materialize. A sluggish start gave way to a good run through the middle of the show, and to several surprises, with few of them written on the set list. Rather, they came courtesy of an abundance of signs. Taking one cue from a fan, Springsteen indicated that he would honor the request despite the sign looking "cheap." "We treat them all alike," he said. And in this instance, he played not one but two favorites off Greetings from Asbury Park in succession, each played for only the second time on the tour: "For You" followed by "Lost in the Flood." The latter showed real E Street mettle, as Roy and Bruce had to work to get their parts synced just right. Once the band kicked in, the song really belonged to Max Weinberg, who pushed the band hard all night long.

Nils Lofgren had his moment on a superb "Prove it All Night," taking an extended solo to end the song. And Clarence didn't wait until "Jungleland" to shine (another request in the encore, courtesy of a sign that was a gorgeous likeness of an Oregon license plate). The Big Man sounded strong throughout the show, particularly on the "Night" opener; he lost his way a bit at the end of the "Jungleland" solo, but the band covered nicely.

Though parts of the show sounded rushed -- "Last to Die," in particular was a sprint -- Bruce was in good humor throughout. He joked that the pot smoke wafting up from the pit might cause a shorter show (it ended up clocking in at a respectable 2:20). Later, spotting a group of women in the pit wearing tee shirts that read "Lesbians [heart] Bruce," he changed a line in "American Land" from "the Germans and the Jews" to "lesbians and Jews." Though the show didn't sell out, the crowd was receptive and enthusiastic, and the quiet parts of the show were pin-drop quiet. That made "Magic" (returning to the set after a night off) and the last verse of "Jungleland" particularly memorable.
- Report by Jonathan Pont, photographs by Joseph Quever

Setlist:
Night
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Candy's Room
Prove It All Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
For You
Lost in the Flood
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Jungleland
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

March 24 / Columbus, OH / Schottenstein Center
Notes:
For anyone who took negative reports from Cincinnati as some kind of death-knell, or the start of a downward trend, tonight's performance showed Cincy to be an aberration, just a weird blip. Springsteen quashed any fears not with a sledgehammer, or any kind of apparent vengeance, but by doing what he and the E Streeters typically do night after night after night. A strong performance with inspiring solos and band interaction, Bruce feeling the material and the crowd, for a great night of rock 'n' roll. And just like that, we're back in business.

"So glad to be in your beautiful city tonight!" Bruce hollered as usual, now adding, "And on this campus of higher education!" You might consider this setlist school, with a good number of shake-ups and premieres. Right out of the gate, "The Ties That Bind" was a last-minute replacement for the setlisted "Two Hearts" opener. Springsteen audibled "Adam Raised a Cain" as well, and a couple songs later it was the tour premiere of "Something in the Night" (last played during the warm-ups last fall). In a major shake-up, "Magic" -- the tour's title track -- was left out for the first time. But another Magic song had its world premiere, with "You'll Be Comin' Down" finally getting a long-awaited live airing (here's hoping it stays in the set). And the lowercase magic continued, like Nils' masterful solo on "Because the Night," and the moment in "She's the One" when he and Bruce dragged their guitar necks across the mic stands at the same time.

Before "Livin' in the Future," Bruce cracked, "I think somebody's been looking in my passport, to be honest with you!" The fun continued with the third of three tour premieres, a loosey-goosey "Sherry Darling" -- which was followed by Bruce calling out, "The people have spoken!" At first, he seemed to be referencing the kinda-confusing notion he shared before the song that "Sherry Darling" had won a vote to be played tonight (apparently there was a local Pick-a-Song radio contest, which flew under our radar and under most of the crowd's as well)... but it soon became clear that he was moving on, as he grabbed a sign in the pit calling for "Incident on 57th Street." The two giant disco balls on the Schottenstein Center ceiling came into play -- no, those dots of light weren't a hallucination -- perhaps adding to the '70s flashback. But this "Incident" was truly in-the-moment, particularly as Bruce turned around to the band before Roy's piano coda, making a palpable connection with the band.

After the five-pack, "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" was back, and the shake-ups continued with "Born to Run" moved up to the second encore slot. That brought another real highlight of the night: a two-piece horn section for "Born to Run," with an unannounced Ed Manion (longtime Juke and a multiple Springsteen tour vet) coming out on baritone sax. The Kingfish was dancing and having a good time, his first time back with Bruce since the Sessions tour. How to follow that up? How about a strong, tight "Rosalita"? The night's penultimate song was "Glory Days" as an audible in place of "Dancing in the Dark," so instead of a single dance partner on stage, Bruce reached out to the whole place: "It's Ohio Time!"
-
Photographs by Guy Aceto

Setlist:
The Ties That Bind
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Adam Raised a Cain
Gypsy Biker
Something in the Night
Reason to Believe
You'll Be Comin' Down
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Sherry Darling
Incident on 57th Street
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Born to Run (with Ed Manion)
Rosalita
Glory Days
American Land


March 22 / Cincinnati, OH / U.S. Bank Arena
Notes: A disappointing night in Cincinnati, a far cry from the exuberant, adrenalized performance in Indy just two nights ago. Not that adrenaline was in short supply tonight -- you might actually consider it the culprit. Springsteen took the band through the show at such a breakneck pace, they had barely passed the two-hour mark by the time "American Land" was through. That's not just clock-watching -- it was sorely felt in the performance, with hardcore fans in the crowd wondering all night, "What the... Why is he racing through this?" Pacing within songs, pacing between songs, very little talk... was there a plane to catch?

Even Bruce seemed to know that the freight train went off the tracks: after "American Land," with the house lights up and the crew already starting to break things down, he came back out with the band. ("The Boss Sneak," as he used to call it.) Springsteen said something about the show being too short, and fans surged into the pit as they got a bonus "Kitty's Back." Still, as one put it, "the damage had been done."

There's a good chance that, if this was your only show, you wouldn't feel this way at all. And at least on paper, it would look to be a fine night with lots of setlist shake-ups: "Darlington County" to open, audibles of "Prove It All Night" (with a killer solo from Nils) and "Be True," and the tour premieres of "Glory Days" and "Lost in the Flood." The latter was no doubt a big highlight of the show. Crowd was great, too. Which made it particularly puzzling that, compared to so many performances on this tour, "Bruce seemed halfway out the door all night."

Not in Cincy myself, and not quite believing what I was hearing after the show, I talked to a few more fans on location... and they all told the same tale: "Songs were over before you could even register what he was doing." "It was the first time, for me, that Bruce just looked like he didn't want to be on that stage." "After 400 shows, I can say that's the most disappointing show I've ever seen." And for some reason the one that hit me the hardest: "Perfunctory." Ouch.

To chime in -- whether it's to agree, or to offer a different take on the show, please send your review to at onstage@backstreets.com. We welcome reports, as always.
-
Photographs by Guy Aceto

Setlist:
Darlington County
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Candy's Room
Prove It All Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Be True
Lost in the Flood
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Glory Days
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
* * *
Kitty's Back

March 20 / Indianapolis, IN / Conseco Fieldhouse
Notes:
Before opening with "Night," Bruce Springsteen introduced "the biggest little bar band in the world!" And tonight, they got bigger by one. Not Patti Scialfa back from tending the home fires, not yet... but the long-awaited return of Danny Federici. The first half of the show had its highlights: Bruce saying "Let me see that sign!" and using it to call "Prove It All Night" as an audible, the tour debut of "Rendezvous" as another request-by-sign. But when Danny emerged for "The Promised Land," it was a game-changing moment.

"We've got a special treat tonight," Springsteen told the crowd after "Livin' in the Future," "Danny Federici is with us!" Coming out for his first performance with the band since Boston in November, Danny gave Charlie Giordano a hug before reclaiming his old spot on the organ riser (Giordano subtly disappeared). Conferring with Danny after "The Promised Land," Bruce then stepped to the mic and said, "He's gonna make me go old school on you!" as Danny ripped into "Spirit in the Night." By this point, they were flying. And finally -- "We can't let him leave without doing this one!" -- it was "Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)," with Danny strapping on the accordion. In a seamless transition, Charlie came back in on "Devil's Arcade," taking over for the five-pack. But in the encore, Danny was back again for the rest of the show. "We're all gonna do this one and dedicate this one to Dan," Bruce said, as they began the encore with "Backstreets." That went into a phenomenal "Kitty's Back," of course another great chance for the Phantom to shine.

Now, the thing is, it's unclear how much of the crowd appreciated the gift that was Danny's presence tonight. With only 10,000 fans filling an 18,000 seater, the audience energy wasn't exactly through the roof as it was, and there was the sense that many in the building weren't quite attuned to what was happening. But the emotions onstage were unmistakable. During "Kitty's Back," the huge smile on Clarence's face as he watched Danny play said it all. To cap off the night, all three keyboard players were there for "American Land," Charlie coming back out to join Roy for the dual accordions, and Danny at his station on the organ. Welcome back, Dan. Hope you'll make a habit of it.


- photgraph by Ron Valle

Oh, and I can't forget to mention Hannah, the little girl whom Bruce brought onstage to dance with him not once but twice on "Dancing in the Dark." A tradition worth reviving, and it don't get much cuter.

Addendum: We've heard from a number of Indy fans like John Damm, offering numerous good reasons for the turnout, from Spring Break to March Madness to the wisdom of locals who know that "the upper deck at Conseco absolutely sucks both audio- and vision-wise for a rock concert. Hoosiers have long ago learned that one might as well be in Siberia as sit in the upper level for a rock concert here." Stew Brase, who has been to every Indy show since '76, contends, "I think last night's might have been the best. With Danny's return, the emotional level of the 'true believers' in the audience was through the roof, and although it wasn't a sell-out, the 10,000 you reported were very spirited and into the show."

Setlist:
Night
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Prove It All Night
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Rendezvous
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Spirit in the Night
Sandy
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Backstreets
Kitty's Back
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

March 17 / Mlwaukee, WI / Bradley Center
Notes: "Are you loose?" Hot damn, Bruce was tonight, even uttering that line to casually reference the '75 Milwaukee bomb scare show. For evidence of said looseness, let's go straight to the setlist, where slot four brought "Streets of Fire," last played on the Rising tour nearly five years ago, in August of 2003. A few songs later and it's "Saint in the City," played only once previously on this tour. "That almost got away from us!" said Bruce. For "Cadillac Ranch" he didn't even sing the "through the Wisconsin night" line, just held the mic out to the crowd, which was happy to oblige. Speaking of "Cadillac Ranch," if you miss Nils' giant cowboy hat of days old, you'd have been been happy to see him on this one in his bright green St. Patrick's Day topper.

On to the encore, where "Loose Ends" -- "Stevie request!" -- replaced "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" to kick things off. Next, always the mark of a special night, was "Meeting Across the River" into "Jungleland." For "Meeting," they were joined by renowned jazz bassist Richard Davis, whose early-'70s recordings with Bruce included playing upright on this studio recording from Born to Run. Van Zandt told Rolling Stone in 2005: "We had Richard Davis, who played bass on [Van Morrison's] Astral Weeks, come in for ["Meeting'] -- and Astral Weeks was like a religion to us." Bruce talked about that a bit on stage tonight, too. At 77, Davis is a professor of music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; we're told this was his first Springsteen concert.

If "Loose Ends" and "Meeting" didn't shake the encore up enough for ya, "Ramrod" took the usual "Dancing in the Dark" slot in the six-song encore. "American Land" closed the night as usual -- if ever there's ever a night to shake that one up, St. Patty's Day ain't it. While Stevie got a green hat of his own and Garry rocked some shamrock glasses, Bruce dedicated the song to Pat Riley and offered an Irish benediction, "May the road always rise to meet you, and the wind be at your back."

A Twin Cities resident, coming off a relatively undistinguished hometown show, calls this one "everything last night wasn't." And lest you think it can't possibly get any better than this, take a quick look at the handwritten setlist, which went through four iterations tonight: the audibled "My Hometown" replaced "Racing in the Street," and "Ramrod" had an alternate in "Rosalita." But Milwaukee, they're not through with you yet... "We'll be back in the summertime!"
Photographs by Cat Towne (top) and Bill Hiland (bottom)

Setlist:
No Surrender
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Streets of Fire
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City
Prove It All Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Cadillac Ranch
My Hometown
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Loose Ends
Meeting Across the River (with Richard Davis)
Jungleland
Born to Run
Ramrod
American Land

March 16 / St. Paul, MN / Xcel Energy Center
Notes: A return engagement at the Xcel Energy Center, where Bruce and the band also played back on November 2. "We're so glad to be here for round two!" Bruce hollered. Comparisons are inevitable -- see Jon Bream's in the Star Tribune -- to our reporters' ears, although the E Street Band is considerably tighter now, this wasn't quite as strong a show as what the Twin Cities got in the fall. "Workmanlike" was a descriptor that came up more than once, post-show. It was good energy, a good crowd, and no one's complaining about "Jungleland" and "Backstreets" in the same show. "Prove It All Night" got its first 2008 airing. But a considerably shorter show (by 20 minutes) than Friday night in Omaha, back to a five-song encore.

"Jungleland" was requested by Zach, a 13-year-old kid right up front, who gave Bruce a tape of himself playing "Born to Run"; Bruce sent that one out to him. And some other youngsters in the pit got a lot of attention, Bruce really getting a kick out of playing to a trio of excited young girls and making sure they each got harmonicas. They had a sign requesting "The Price You Pay," and okay, he wasn't quite that obliging... but he did sign an autograph with a flourish, and he even took it upon himself to actually move one girl so she had a better view: "She should be in front of you guys -- she's shorter!" Patti remains absent on this 2008 leg, Bruce giving another update on what she's got to guard against on the home front: "As I was leaving, the hash brownies were just coming out of the oven.... She knows how to deal with that." And an appropriate wish leading into the Irish flavored "American Land": "Happy St. Patty's Day!"
-Photographs by Steve Cohen

Setlist:
Night
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Prove It All Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Backstreets
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Jungleland
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

March 14 / Omaha, NE / Qwest Center
Notes: "1978 was the last time we played here," Bruce said to the sold-out Omaha crowd before "Magic," "You look the same -- you haven't changed!" One show-goer tells us, "Please make sure to mention how sensational the crowd was in Omaha last night. Having not gotten a show in 30 years worth of tours, they responded to the new tunes as well as the classics in a wildly enthusiastic manner. The new arena is steep, and people were literally in the rafters by the catwalks, high above what is traditionally called nosebleeds. All standing, cheering, and singing for most all of the concert. The rest of the arena was on its feet as well, and the guys in the band responded."

As for the show itself, leave it to Springsteen to avoid the obvious. Bruce plays Nebraska, and we're thinking Nebraska... he's thinking Bright Eyes. Conor Oberst, who fronts the band that toured with Bruce and the E Streeters in 2004, is a Nebraska native, and his label, Saddle Creek, is based right here in Omaha. While "Reason to Believe" remained the only '82 song in the set, Bruce dedicated "Livin' in the Future" to his old tourmate in the pit: "Conor Oberst, my friend, this one is for you."

In the encore -- another seven-song special that really made the night -- Springsteen brought the "hometown boy" for "Thunder Road," saying "He's a great singer with a great band." Oberst spent the beginning of the song kneeling at the front of the stage; he began singing with "Roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair," and he and Springsteen shared the rest of the song. "Vote for change this time, maybe..." Bruce added with a chuckle.

After that it was a double-whammy of an audible, replacing "Kitty's Back" on the setlist. "Somebody had a sign for the 'Detroit Medley,'" Bruce said, "We don't play that much. And somebody had a sign for 'Jungleland'... the people have spoken!" -- and they played both. While the "Medley" in Buffalo was impeccably performed, it was a bit more fun tonight, with the band looser and goofing around. The remarkable encore stretched the show out to around 2:40, one of the longest of the tour so far.

Setlist:
No Surrender
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Adam Raised a Cain
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The River
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thunder Road
Jungleland
Detroit Medley
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

March 10 / Uniondale, NY / Nassau Coliseum
Notes: "Good evening, Long Island -- half-brothers and -sisters of New Jersey!" Springsteen seemed to appreciate being back at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, home of his renowned New Years' Eve '80 concert with the E Street Band, and this was their first show at the venue in 20 years, since the '88 Tunnel tour. There weren't the tour premieres of Buffalo or Rochester, but a very solid show, with an already appreciative crowd which the Boss worked hard anyway, and some choice rarities.

"Adam Raised a Cain" was a stand-out, featuring an extended passionate guitar solo from Bruce, scraping his strings across the mic stand. "Incident on 57th Street," always a special moment when it comes, put Garry in the spotlight, his bass high in the mix to wonderful effect. And the encore brought two previously played rarities -- "Jungleland" and "Ramrod" -- that put some perspective on the thrill of tour premieres: not "Buffalo Gals," but which would you rather hear?

"Jungleland" was a fine rendition, with opinions mixed on which was better, this, or the Garden version in the fall. No doubt this one would have been even more special had Bruce kept in the setlisted "Meeting Across the River" that was to precede it. But you live by the audibles, you die by the audibles, and a couple songs later Bruce shook up the setlist again (perhaps inspired by the "Let's Roadhouse" sign in the crowd?) with an impromptu "Ramrod." "Is it sexy time?" Bruce asked, before some squalls of feedback prompted him to declare, "It's fuck-up time!" But nah, as ever, it was "Boss Time!" and Bruce rode it on out to the two-and-a-half hour mark, the longest of this New York State trifecta.
-Photographs by A.M. Saddler

Setlist:
Night
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Adam Raised a Cain
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Incident on 57th Street
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Jungleland
Born to Run
Ramrod
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

March 8
Farmingdale, NJ
Eagle Oaks Country Club
Notes: In between Buffalo and Uniondale stops on the Magic tour, Springsteen turned up for a surprise performance at a benefit for the Ranney School, the 21st Annual RSPA Panther Ball. Hair slicked back, Springsteen strapped on a guitar to play "Glory Days" with Tim McLoone and the Shirleys.
Setlist: Glory Days


March 7 / Buffalo, NY / HSBC Arena
Notes: Rosalita, come out tonight? Nah, she came out last night. How about Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight? Well, considering the locale... why the hell not? Yep, as Bruce started to introduce "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" by saying "This is for the Buffalo girls," he let that take him right into an impromptu version of the Seeger Sessions fave. Not a full-blown E Street Band rendition, but as Bruce continued singing he got Soozie to help out on fiddle, and soon Max and Nils were playing along, too -- an off-the-cuff treat that kicked off a seven-song encore. A few songs later, Bruce kept 'em dancing by the light of the moon with the surprise tour premiere of the "Detroit Medley." And what a "Medley" it was -- though unrehearsed, it was note-perfect, as opposed to the raggedly riotous "Rosalita" the night before.

As two-fers go -- and especially if you like snow (tonight Bruce recalled a Buffalo visit after the Blizzard of '77)-- Rochester and Buffalo were thus far the back-to-back shows of the tour. Venue-wise, from the intimate, old Blue Cross Arena to the cavernous HSBC, it was day and night from Thursday to Friday. But Bruce has been having a blast and pulling out the stops. At 26 songs total, Buffalo offered the most yet, and the shake-ups weren't just saved for the encore. The main set offered "The Ties That Bind" to open; "Be True," previously played only in Cleveland on this tour; and the return of "I'll Work for Your Love." The climax of "Long Walk Home" has truly become a tour de force. Still no Patti, with Bruce stressing the need for adult supervision back home: "As I was leaving, 100 kids with beer kegs were rushing up the driveway... Patti'll take care of that!"
-Photographs by A.M. Saddler

Setlist:
The Ties That Bind
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Be True
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Night
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
I'll Work for Your Love
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Buffalo Gals
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thunder Road
Detroit Medley
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

March 6 / Rochester, NY / Blue Cross Arena
Notes: Last time the E Street Band played here, five years ago this month, they tour-debuted "Fire." This time, it was "come sit by my fire," as an impromptu "Rosalita" came out in Rochester, purely by request. In the encore, after a young girl held up a "Rosalita, Please" sign for much of the show, Bruce finally said "Gimme that sign," slowly revealed it to a losing-their-shit crowd, and launched into a rough-and-tumble version of the Wild & Innocent classic with the sign propped against the mic stand the entire time. And that that was just the icing on the cake of an intensely high energy show, a perfect synergy of performer, audience, setlist, and setting.

"Is this a new building or an old building?" Bruce asked the crowd. "Old building!" "Yeah, I thought so... old buildings are still the best buildings." And he rocked it by packing the main set solid: "Night" to open; "Jackson Cage" added between "Lonesome Day" and "Gypsy Biker"; two barnburners -- "Because the Night" and an audibled "Loose Ends" -- sandwiched between "Reason" and "She's the One." It's worth starting a new sentence for another of tonight's Moments, "Racing in the Street." And a crowd truly deserving of the "Rosie" boon completed the energy feedback loop. Still no red headed woman -- Patti remains absent from this leg so far -- but damn if they're not getting the dirty job done.

"Rochester number one!" Bruce hollered at the end of the night -- and he's right, this is a contender for best show of the tour so far. "Don't let them tear this building down!"
-Photographs by A.M. Saddler

Setlist:
Night
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Jackson Cage
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
Loose Ends
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Racing in the Street
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Rosalita
Born to Run
American Land

March 3 / Hamilton, ON / Copps Coliseum
Notes: The third show of the leg makes three nights running with a different opener -- tonight in Hamilton, it was "No Surrender." That was the only change from Montreal in a srtaightforward main set; in the encore, "Jungleland" was replaced by a crowd-pleasing two-pack of "Thunder Road" and a stand-out "Kitty's Back." And the crowd was audibly pleased -- this was "possibly the best audience in North America for the Magic tour -- including Boston shows," one regular concertgoer reports. The sold-out 19,000 seater still had an intimate atmosphere, and in a chillingly perfect moment, Bruce stepped back as the whole place became a choir on the second line of "The River." And they just wouldn't let "Badlands" go.

One guy got carried away and started running across the stage during "Long Walk Home" -- which was surely what he had in front of him, after he was tackled and quickly whisked away. "Because the Night" was highlighted by Nils Lofgren's three-minute guitar workshop and then a seamless segue into "She's the One."  "Magic" was launched with "here's to the end of 7 years of tricks."  And Charles Giordano gave a sweet send-off to the "Devil's Arcade."

Setlist:
No Surrender
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Darkness on the Edge of Town
The River
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thunder Road
Kitty's Back
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

March 2 / Montreal, QC / Bell Centre
Notes: "Bon soir, Montreal!" After Thursday night's Hartford show met with such raves, tonight in Quebec Bruce and the band proved that it wasn't just opening night adrenaline. For the leg's second show they once again came out full throttle, with an opening blast of "Night" before moving into "Radio Nowhere," and never let up. Fewer surprises, perhaps -- no debuts or Tracks material here -- but plenty of crowd-pleasers in the set. "Because the Night" (a North American tour premiere, at least) was met with a huge roar as Roy started the intro. And you gotta love a night when Bruce calls audibles of "Darkness" (replacing the setlisted "Working on the Highway") and "Jungleland" (in the "Bobby Jean"/"Thunder Road" slot), with another how-does-he-do-it stunner of a solo from Clarence.

During the opening strains of "Jungleland," Bruce shielded his eyes from the light as he looked back toward section 106, to acknowledge the fan with the sign calling for this one. And it was definitely a night when performer and crowd were in concert. A notably young pit crowd kept him fed with energy all night (he was happy to return the favor with autographs, even signing a Born to Run eight track tape during the show), and the whole place joined in a loud, ecstatic sing-along on "Waitin' on a Sunny Day." "Great audience," said the man. And another by-proxy greeting from the Phantom: "Danny sends his regards -- he says he's doing quite well."
-Photographs by A.M. Saddler

Setlist:
Night
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Darkness on the Edge of Town
The River
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Jungleland
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

February 28 / Hartford, CT / XL Center
Notes:
We'll admit it, for the first night back after more than two months off, we were expecting a standard show, maybe a little halting, as Springsteen and the E Street Band got their feet back under them. But from the beginning -- as Bruce hollered "Is there anybody alive out there!" and went not into "Radio Nowhere" but "So Young and in Love" to start -- he and the band were immediately up to speed, and Hartford was a hot, high-energy show. In mid-season shape from the moment they took the stage, they were also clearly determined to offer something new for this second swing around North America, with three top-tier tour debuts from Tracks. In addition to that surprise opener, "Loose Ends" was very well received, with Bruce and Steve sharing extended vocals at the end. The third premiere was played appropriately enough "for Janey," it was "Janey Don't You Lose Heart." Nils' first recorded vocal with the E Street Band, tonight the song put the spotlight on him once again, a great moment as he took over to sing the second verse.

Patti Scialfa was absent tonight, as was Danny Federici, with Charles Giordano continuing to fill in on organ as he did in Europe (tonight was his U.S. debut with the E Streeters). After telling the crowd that Patti sends her love, Bruce went on to say that Danny does too, offering a long-awaited update to fans who've been wondering about the Phantom: "He's doing all right. Hopefully he'll make it out for a few shows on this leg of the tour." Bruce also took the moment to recognize Charlie and give him a bow.

Working the stage and the crowd hard, Bruce added a few new thoughts to the often downbeat "Livin' in the Future" rap: "I feel some changes coming... I feel a new wind!" The set-closing five-pack remains intact, with some nice refinements to "Long Walk Home" carrying over from its evolving arrangement on the European tour. Nils and particularly Steve get to step up on vocals at the end, to great effect. "Dancing in the Dark" dropped out of the encore to make room for an epic doubleshot, "Backstreets" into "Kitty's Back," where Charlie really got a chance to shine. And opening night -- not a warm-up by any means -- came to a familiar close with "American Land."

"This show just put a big dent in my bank account," a friend of mine told me afterward. How come? "Before, I was on the fence about how many I was going to see this time," he said. "After 'Loose Ends' I realized, dammit, I'm gonna have to see 'em all."
-Photographs by A.M. Saddler

Setlist:
So Young and in Love
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Loose Ends
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Janey Don't You Lose Heart
The River
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Backstreets
Kitty's Back
Born to Run
American Land


You'll find more in the pages of Backstreets! If you're looking for more concert details besides a listing of songs, be sure to check out Backstreets Magazine. The Backstreets.com website was established in 1995 to help pass along the important news and setlists between issues; the magazine itself contains more in-depth coverage, with detailed information on each show, commentary, and concert photographs.

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And don't forget, we can't do this alone... and we never have. We count on contributions from fellow fans and readers to help us with timely and accurate concert coverage:

  • If you want to help out, e-mail setlists and concert reports to onstage@backstreets.com. Especially helpful are descriptions of the rarer songs played (tour premieres, etc.), the "feel" of the show (especially compared to others you might have seen), things Bruce said to the crowd-- basically, anything that set the night apart.
  • To send photos, ticket stubs, concert ads, handwritten setlists, etc., email scans to images@backstreets.com, or mail to Backstreets, 1818 MLK Jr. Blvd. #300, Chapel Hill, NC 27514 USA. Thanks for helping out!


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