BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and the E.STREET BAND – ” The Met Life Shows ” August 23rd/25th/30th 2016

Posted: September 8, 2016 in MUSIC
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Even Huck Finn didn’t spend all his time on the river. So it seems peevish to expect Bruce Springsteen to.It was opening night of the final leg of the River Tour and he was home in New Jersey and how was he ready!

He played a 35 song incredible setlist which took just under 4 hours (3:56min to be exact)… With NO breaks!!… it was his longest in USA History! … and this was after a more than 2 hour “sound check” that we
heard while waiting to get in. The second part of the Bruce Springsteen The River Tour 2016 began 7:30 Tuesday and the second show Thursday and then again on August 30th all at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford. Ticket prices range $68 to $150 (tickets start at $45 Aug. 30th)

A good time was had by all – including by all appearances, The Boss – on Tuesday night, the first of three dates at MetLife stadium on this second leg of Bruce’s The River Tour 2016.

But the choice to open with the 10-minute “Wild” opus “New York City Serenade” was the night’s one great wildcard. Roy Bittan’s piano intro, revamped from Dave Sancious‘ original composition, was wonderfully ominous, and a live string section allowed the number to exist largely in its original form. Springsteen was clear as day on the wailing “he’s singin'” refrain. Those same strings were magic later, when melded with Bruce’s harmonica on “Jack.”   The band took two requests via fan signs: a silly trip through “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” — “the perfect summer song,” Springsteen quipped — and the well-aged oldie “Growin’ Up.”

 “Jungleland” earned the most drama — the stadium hung on Bruce’s every word following Jake Clemons‘ soaring solo.

So we’ll simply say in passing that “The River,” the 1980 double album that was supposed to be the whole point of the occasion, was honored more in the breach than in the observance Tuesday. What started as a torrent of music from “The Ties That Bind: The River Collection” box set (the 20 songs from the original album, plus numerous outtakes) has, over the course of eight months of touring, dwindled to more of a trickle: seven “River” songs, out of a 35-song setlist that clocked in Tuesday at just under four hours.

But since those songs were among the strongest from “The River” – including “Sherry Darling,” “Out on the Street,” “Independence Day,” the hit single “Hungry Heart,” and “The River” itself – it’s hard to complain. Springsteen, in any case, seemed to have some other fish to fry Tuesday night. Not least of which was welcoming his core constituency back to the Meadowlands. “Good evening, New Jersey! It’s great to be home!” yelled the Boss, acoustic guitar slung over this shoulder, coming onstage as keyboardist Roy Bittan made like Paderewski with fancy riffs that segued into “New York City Serenade.”

Tuesday’s Springsteen was a slightly more subdued Boss than we’ve seen lately. Not that there wasn’t a lot of raucous fun to be had on Tuesday night – this is a Springsteen show, after all, and pumping up a crowd is a basic part of his skill set. All of the musical excitement that the E Street Band can conjure on a good night was there: from Nils Lofgren’s epic guitar solo in “Because The Night,” to Jake Clemons nailing his late uncle’s sax solo in “Born to Run,” to the harmonizing of Patti Scialfa and Soozie Tyrell on several songs, to the lushness of a string section at a few key moments. With the musicianship came showmanship: the buddy-act of Springsteen and guitarist “Miami” Steve Van Zandt, the epic stage exit of Bruce, making like James Brown with a blanket draped over his shoulder (it said “The Boss” on the back).

Unlike the tour’s first U.S. leg earlier this year, all 20 “River” tracks were not played in sequence, or at all. Only seven tunes were incorporated this night, the best being the always-rousing “Ties That Bind” and “Independence Day,” which Springsteen introduced with a story surrounding his “non-communicative” father.

“I figured the way I could have a conversation with him was through my music,” he said. “… about 40 years went by, and my father was close to his death. I said ‘dad, what are your favorite songs that I’ve written, and he said ‘oh, the ones about me.’ You gotta take your satisfactions where you can get ’em.”

Nothing terribly deep in the catalog was unearthed Tuesday, perhaps “Mansion on the Hill,” (preceded by the ice cream story) or “Jack of all Trades” were least automatic in the hit-filled set.

But the Springsteen we saw a few years back on the “Wrecking Ball” tour, crowd-surfing and doing party medleys of 1960s soul hits, took a back seat Tuesday to the moody guy who still has a lot to say about growing up poor and desperate in an America that hasn’t gotten any easier, in recent years, for the folks from the wrong side of the tracks.

Songs like the early “Growing Up,” “Jack of all Trades” (from the “Wrecking Ball” album), “My Hometown,” “The River,” the epic “Jungleland,” are all about pain. Even more sobering – and one of the songs that Springsteen really laid into – was “American Skin (41 Shots),” his 15-year-old indictment of the 1999 police shooting of Amadou Diallo that seems more relevant than ever in these years of Black Lives Matter. Springsteen hammered the point home: “You can get killed just for living in your American skin,” he sang again and again.

Some of the more memorable moments Tuesday happened courtesy of the audience, who steered the Boss into some odd detours.

Early on, as has become customary, Springsteen cherry-picked signboards from the front row with audience requests. “Burning Love” was one. “My City of Ruins” was another. But leave it to Springsteen to pick the least likely. “The perfect summer song!” he said, plucking up the sign that read “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” “Where’s your Santa Claus suit and hat?” The guy who made the request (presumably it was that guy) was even brought up on stage to join in the chorus — “You better be good for goodness sake!” – and to take a selfie afterwards. “Why the selfie?” said a bemused Springsteen. “Why always the selfie?”

Many songs later, Springsteen zeroed in on another sign. “Who wants to dance with the old bald fan?” it read. And so in the famous “Hey, Baby!” moment in “Dancing in the Dark,” when Springsteen reaches out into the audience for a partner — it was Courteney Cox in the original video — that bald guy got to come up on stage and shake his moneymaker (Springsteen also strapped a guitar on him made him an honorary E Streeter for the occasion).

Fans who want more “River” may have better luck on another night of tour, which runs through September 14th. On Tuesday, the fun — not to mention the heartache — were mostly to be found elsewhere.

Bruce Springsteen Growin’ Up at the MetLife Stadium, NJ, Sign request from a 13 year old boy at Bruce’s longest show ever in the USA last night

Five decades or so into his career, and more than three decades since I started attending his shows regularly, Bruce Springsteen is still giving me stuff I’ve never heard before in concert.

Tuesday night, at the first of his three shows at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford this month — a three-hour, 53-minute marathon — he did it without a new album, or even any new songs.

For both “New York City Serenade” and “Jack of All Trades,” he brought out a small string section that added vital texture and flavor. According to a facebook page by one of the players, violinist Joe Deninzon (of the band Stratospheerius and other groups), they didn’t know they would also play “Jack of All Trades” until two hours before showtime.

“Jersey Girl,” the evening’s closing ballad, was accompanied by so many fireworks Springsteen and the E Street Band were temporarily obscured by smoke.

Of course, as with any Springsteen show, it’s not so much the songs he performed as the way he performed them, and this show proved that at 67, he’s still able to draw on superhuman resources of energy, running around the stage and belting out song after song for nearly four hours, and even racing into the crowd to sing at mid-stadium during “Hungry Heart” and “10th Avenue Freeze-out.”

This show is part of Springsteen The River Tour, which followed the release of Deluxe edition of the 1980 double album late last year. During the first U.S. leg of the tour, Springsteen and the band performed the double album in its entirety each night; they are no longer doing that, though seven River songs did make it into the show tonight, ranging from the party anthem, “Sherry Darling,” to the dark and intensely personal “Independence Day.”

An absolute highlight of the show tonight was a non-River song:  “Something in the Night.” Just a passionate, perfect rendition of a song you don’t hear Springsteen play very often, set up with a spoken intro about how back in his 20s, Jersey bars would stay open until 3 a.m., and he’d stay until closing time, then go to a diner afterwards, and when you were finally through at the diner at 4 or 4:30 the hot summer air would be so heavy you’d feel like nothing could move, and everything was quiet, and you’d feel “like the apocalypse is just around the corner.” (The weather on Tuesday was pretty much ideal, though, cool and not humid at all).

There were a lot of stories, throughout the night, about Springsteen’s family, and growing up in New Jersey. Also, it happened to be a big night for Jake Clemons: I can’t remember a Springsteen show with more sax solos, and fewer guitar solos. And Clemons nailed every one.

The guitarists did have a few good moments, too, though, with Nils Lofgren making the biggest impact with his howling leads on “41 Shots (American Skin)” and a wild solo on “Because the Night” during which he careened around the stage as if pulled by the power of his guitar, then continued to play as he spun around in circles.

Springsteen’s next two shows at MetLife Stadium take place Thursday Aug. 25th and then the 30th.

Setlist for August 23rd

“New York City Serenade”
“Wrecking Ball”
“Something in the Night”
“The Ties That Bind”
“Sherry Darling”
“Spirit in the Night”
“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”
“Independence Day”
“Hungry Heart”
“Out in the Street”
“Growin’ Up”
“You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)”
“Death to My Hometown”
“Mansion on the Hill”
“Jack of All Trades”
“My Hometown”
“The River”
“American Skin (41 Shots)”
“The Promised Land”
“Working on the Highway”
“Darlington County”
“Because the Night”
“She’s the One”
“Brilliant Disguise”
“The Rising”
“Land of Hope and Dreams”

“Born to Run”
“Dancing in the Dark”
“Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”
“Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”
“Bobby Jean”
“Jersey Girl”

A man who had just proposed to his girlfriend paid her the ultimate compliment after being invited onstage by Bruce Springsteen during his show-closing “Jersey Girl” at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, Aug. 25

“I love you more than (I love) Bruce,” he told her. They then hugged and danced together onstage in front of tens of thousands of people, as fireworks filled the sky.

After that, their wedding is bound to be anticlimactic. Unless they get married on the moon.

It was the perfect cap to another very satisfying Springsteen show at his home state’s largest concert venue. (He also performed there Tuesday Aug. 23rd(As you can read above), and will be there again August 30th.

As happened on August. 23rd, Springsteen and the E Street Band were joined by a string section on two songs, “New York City Serenade” and “Jack of All Trades.” Unlike Tuesday, there was also a special guest: auxiliary E Street Band member Tom Morello (best known as a member of Rage Against the Machine, and currently touring with Prophets of Rage). The masterful guitarist appeared on three songs and was most impressive on “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” sharing starkly emotional lead vocals with Springsteen and taking a dazzling guitar solo, contorting his body as he wrenched otherworldly sounds from his instrument.

The show featured 14 songs that were not played on the tuesday August. 23rd and, at 3 hours and 58 minutes, set a record for Springsteen’s longest U.S. show ever (the August. 23rd show, which was about five minutes shorter, had set a record as well). Springsteen also declared a landmark performance after a 3-year-old girl sang part of “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day” with surprising poise.

“Three years old — that’s a new record!,” Springsteen said.

In a pretty rough transition, Springsteen next played two of his most harrowing songs, “Darkness on the Edge of Town” and “Lost in the Flood.” Things also got dark a few songs later, with what amounted to a quartet of protest songs: “Death to My Hometown,” “Youngstown,” “Jack of All Trades” and “American Skin (41 Shots).” Before “Youngstown,” Springsteen described the current election cycle as “the ugliest I’ve ever seen.”

But it certainly wasn’t a dark, depressing show, overall. The hard-charging three-song segment of “Prove It All Night,” “Night” and “No Surrender,” which followed opener “New York City Serenade,” kicked the show into high gear, early on. The buoyant The River songs “Cadillac Ranch” and “I’m a Rocker” worked well together, later on. The encore performance of “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” was as loose and joyful as any I’ve ever seen of this fan favorite. And Nils Lofgren almost out-Morello’d Morello with his howling, virtuosic guitar solos on “Youngstown” and “Because the Night.”

“Lost in the Flood” wasn’t in the original set list for the second show, but a fan in front had a sign saying he’d been to 150 shows and never heard it. “Tonight is your lucky night!” Springsteen said before kicking into a smoking rendition of the 1973 deep cut that culminated with a killer guitar solo. It’s hard to match the version captured on the Live in New York City album taped at Madison Square Garden in 2000 (which marked the first time he’d done the song since 1978), but this one came very close.

Bruce Springsteen broke his own record for the longest E Street band show ever played on American soil, at the MetLife Stadium in Jersey. It was endless. Four hours, to be exact. But by the time Nils Lofgren rounded the corner of his multiminute guitar solo in “Because The Night,” it felt a lot longer.

Some things that happened over the course of this show:

Early on in the evening, Bruce found an adorable blond child wearing bedazzled ear-protecting headphones in the audience and put her on his shoulder like a tiny queen. She sang the entire chorus to “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day.” It was so ferociously cute that I couldn’t believe she wasn’t paid for her efforts.

There was a stadium wide dance party to Bruce’s cover of “Shout”

It seemed like the show was over. But then Bruce yelled to the crowd: “You don’t SOUND satisfied.” It was almost midnight and I started to panic. Bruce went on: “You better show me if you’re satisfied.” and then he continued  to play “Thunder Road.” then came “Jersey Girl”  as he had just about hit the four-hour mark.

Here is the Thursday night August. 25th


“New York City Serenade” (with strings)
“Prove It All Night”
“No Surrender”
“Wrecking Ball”
“Sherry Darling”
“Spirit in the Night”
“My City of Ruins”
“Waitin’ on a Sunny Day”
“Darkness on the Edge of Town”
“Lost in the Flood”
“Hungry Heart”
“Out in the Street”
“Death to My Hometown” (with Tom Morello)
“Jack of All Trades” (with strings)
“American Skin (41 Shots)” (with Tom Morello)
“The Promised Land”
“Cadillac Ranch”
“I’m a Rocker”
“Tougher Than the Rest”
“Because the Night”
“The Rising”
“The Ghost of Tom Joad” (with Tom Morello)

“Born to Run”
“Dancing in the Dark”
“Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”
“Tenth Avenue Freeze-out”
“Thunder Road”
“Jersey Girl”

So after two shows it seemed as he really gave his all to New Jersey, but after all, he did say we challenged the E Street Band, and boy did they meet that challenge,”

The third show was different. “I have never heard a Springsteen show like this. For nearly two hours he played selections primarily from the first two albums. You never knew which direction he was going to take, and that is what made the whole night so exciting.” Was it the best of the three shows? It’s hard to say. They all had their special moments. August. 23rd had “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and the debut of the string section, for instance. August. 25th had Tom Morello’s thrilling guitar solo on “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and the onstage participation of a just-engaged couple during “Jersey Girl.” This one had all kinds of good stuff.


According to Amabile, the first 12 songs were all from the ’70s, including a guest appearance by Rickie Lee Jones for “Sprirt in the Night.” He then broke out five songs in a row from the 1984 album “Born in the USA.” He then hit some songs from the tour’s namesake album.

“It’s nearly impossible to think that every song for the first hour and a half of the show was written prior to 1974. An hour and a half is an ENTIRE show for some acts, these folks were just getting warmed up,” Cunningham said. “The first 11 songs contained all of side two of “The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle” (including the always sought after “Incident On 57th Street/Rosalita (Come Out Tonight”) pairing. It also featured four in a row from “Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ.”

The ‘Greetings From Asbury Park’ four-pack
The final night at MetLife had one of the most idiosyncratic set lists in Springsteen’s entire career. After opening with “New York City Serenade” for the third consecutive night, he proceeded to play four straight songs from his debut LP, Greetings From Asbury Park, “Blinded by the Light,” “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street,” It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City” and “Spirit in the Night.” It was the beginning of a roughly 90-minute set of music that pre-dated Born to Run, followed by a run of songs from Nebraska and Born in the U.S.A. He’s never presented his catalog in chronological order before, but it worked magnificently.

‘The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle’ four-pack 

The Greetings material was followed by Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” and then four songs from The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle. “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” had the entire stadium singing along and “Kitty’s Back” gave a spotlight to nearly every member of the band, but nothing can top “Incident on 57th Street” flowing right into “Rosalita (Come out Tonight)” just like it does on the original LP. The latter tune is an encore staple, but moving it into the main set was an inspired move. Only “The E Street Shuffle” and “Wild Billy’s Circus Story” were unplayed from the album.

The ‘Nebraska’/’Born in the U.S.A.’ six-pack

After eight songs from 1973, Springsteen jumped ahead nearly a decade by kicking into “Atlantic City” from Nebraska and five consecutive Born in the U.S.A. tunes. This is material designed for football stadiums. “Working on the Highway” and “Darlington County” are longtime staples, but relative rarities “Downbound Train” and “I’m Going Down” worked even better. He wrapped it all up with a hushed “I’m on Fire,” a beloved tune that makes oddly few live appearances.

Cunningham said the concert also included a “terrific version of the rare “Secret Garden” and off the hinges covers like “Summertime Blues” and “Pretty Flamingo.”

He gave a lot of credit to the E Street Band for having the stamina to keep up with the Boss. Max Weinberg in particular was off the charts. The entire band was in the zone right along with Bruce,” Cunningham said.

But in this instance, length achievements might as well tossed aside, for many Bruce diehards it was a bonafide dream set.

Following the tour’s now-cemented opener “New York City Serenade” again bolstered by an accompanying string octet  Springsteen revealed to the packed crowd of 55,000 that his group would be shuffling its deck, and “playing a bunch of songs we didn’t play the other two nights.”

The cheering audience couldn’t have known that for the next 80 minutes — nearly the full length of most pop shows — Springsteen would revisit his earliest works with rare breadth and irrefutable conviction.

Bruce’s debut “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” and follow up “The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle,” were focal points here, and nine tracks combined were delivered with the ebullience of a 24-year-old Springsteen doling out his new tunes along the Jersey coast back in ’73.

The crop of oldies included the Shore-painting favorite “4th of July in Asbury Park (Sandy)” and kitschy “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street”; both were reimagined, and performed for the first time on U.S. soil in four years.

But while Springsteen was a grinning, rollicking and wailing commander for the gospel-tinged “Spirit in the Night” — during which he chugged two fans’ beverages and gave himself a brain freeze and usual encore banger “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),” an extended, full-band jam on “Kitty’s Back,” was perhaps the best singular production of these three New Jersey shows. The seven-minute track’s freeform leanings were wholly embraced, as the band grooved through a trio on terrific solos, from organist Charles Giordano’s tricks, to a clanging improv from Roy Bittan that earned the entire band’s attention, to a boiling shred from Springsteen himself.

Much of the set was kept light and fast, and lively Bruce, who bounded all night as if he’d been given terrific news just before taking the stage, stopped only once for a long tale, to preface the Manfred Mann cover “Pretty Flamingo.” He’s told it before: how he used to live above a luncheonette, order a ham sandwich everyday with no mustard — “don’t give me no f—ing Grey Poupon,” he barked — and watch the same beautiful woman walk down the street. It turned out to be wife Patti Scialfa, or so he said.

Otherwise, summer fun reigned over 67-year-old Springsteen, who jogged and hammered through a series of “Born in the U.S.A.” tunes, punctuating the crop with a moody “I’m On Fire” behind deafening croons from the audience.

Only then did “The River” earn some favor, for two songs, before the gotta-play-’em hits kicked in. The outlier here was “Living Proof,” a forgotten album track off “Lucky Town” that Springsteen dedicated to his son Evan.

On the 1992-93 “Other Band” tour, fans groaned that way too much of the show was occupied with songs from Human Touch and Lucky Town. Those songs almost never surface these days. “Living Proof” from Lucky Town was played via request on the third night, with Springsteen dedicating the song to his son Evan. Many fans sat down or headed for the bathroom, but it was still nice to acknowledge that those albums are things that exist. Sadly, “Better Days,” a much better Lucky Town song, was soundchecked but didn’t make it into the show.

But between his surprise “Greetings” and “Wild” sessions; an equally unexpected “U.S.A.” block; an arresting return to “Jungleland”; an encore that managed the  live rarity “Secret Garden” and both party staples “Twist and Shout” and “Shout”; and a pace that was more organic and joyful than his past two MetLife gigs, Tuesday’s crowd can rest easy, and catch up on some sleep. They caught Bruce at his best; he was all of his local worship, and the icon who’s bred such devout fan loyalty all these years.

Just five days after The Boss played his longest-ever gig on American soil with an astonishing 3-hour, 59-minute performance at MetLife Stadium, Springsteen came back on Tuesday night to go one better (or two, for those who were counting).

“Jersey Girl” is a Tom Waits song, but from the first time Springsteen played it in 1981, he took out the final verse and tacked on a new section that transformed the title character into an exhausted single mother. The revision completely changed the emotional core of the song, and it’s become one of Springsteen’s most believed Jersey tunes. All three MetLife shows concluded with “Jersey Girl” and fireworks during the “sha la la la” finale. The clock passed the four-hour mark on the last night, but it seemed like the band and the audience still had enough energy to keep going a while longer. Springsteen has played a lot of shows at the Meadowlands during the past 35 years, but these three might go down as the most memorable, and not simply because he finally crossed the mythical four-hour barrier. There wasn’t a moment during all 12 hours when he wasn’t completely in the zon

The final night of a three-night stand in East Rutherford ended at 12:12 a.m., after 4 hours and 1 minute. The only recorded Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band show that went for longer was one in Helsinki, Finland, in 2012 (4 hours and 6 minutes).

It was a special night for fans from the very start, as the E Street Band indulged their longest-serving followers with 80 minutes worth of music taken almost exclusively from their often-overlooked first two albums, “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” and “The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle” (both released in 1973, two years before “Born to Run” shot them to fame).

Set List Show 3,

1. New York City Serenade
2. Blinded By The Light
3. Does This Bus Stop On 82nd Street?
4. It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City
5. Spirit in the Night
6. Summertime Blues
7. 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
8. Kitty’s Back
9. Incident on 57th Street
10. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
12. Atlantic City
13. I’m Goin’ Down
14. Darlington County
15. Working On The Highway
16. Downbound Train
17. I’m On Fire
18. Hungry Heart
19. Out In The Street
20. LIVING PROOF (dedicated to Evan)
21. Candy’s Room
22. She’s The One
23. Because The Night
24. The Rising
25. Badlands
27. Jungleland
28. Born To Run
29. Dancing In The Dark
30. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
31. Twist And Shout
32. Glory Days
33. Shout
34. Jersey Girl

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