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Thursday, 5 April 2012

Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball Tour - What Have We Learnt So Far?

Eleven dates into the first leg of  'The Wrecking Ball Tour' and what have we learned so far from Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band?

Firstly, the new album is getting a lot of attention in the setlists each night. At the warm up shows they played eight tracks at the Apollo and SXSW ('We Take Care of Our Own', 'Wrecking Ball', 'Death to My Hometown', 'Jack of All Trades', 'Shackled and Drawn', 'We Are Alive' and  'Land of Hope and Dreams' ) and on the "official" opening night of the tour in Atlanta they did ten ( those already mentioned plus 'Easy Money' and 'American Land'). Three nights in at Tampa Bay Times Forum 'Shackled and Drawn' was dropped (which is a shame as I really like it).

After the first nine shows he seems settled on eight tracks ('We Take Care of Our Own', 'Wrecking Ball', 'Death to My Hometown', 'Jack of All Trades', 'Easy Money', 'We Are Alive' 'Rocky Ground' and 'Land of Hope and Dreams' - though he did drop it on night two of the Philly shows and reinstated it for the DC show and the first night of two at New Jersey).

Secondly, Bruce likes to change things up a bit and add a few surprises to the set. Second night of the tour in Greensboro, North Carolina,  he threw into the mix 'Because the Night' and during the encores the first outing of 'Rosalita'. In Tampa the next night out went 'Badlands' and in came 'Prove It All Night'. There were also tour debuts for 'Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street', 'Talk to Me' (though on the actual setlist 'Spirit in the Night' was listed), 'Atlantic City' (though again the stage setlist called for 'Johnny 99' and 'Atlantic City' together), 'American Skin (41 Shots)', 'Radio Nowhere' and 'Glory Days'.

In Boston three days after the Tampa show, Bruce amped it up again adding 'Thundercrack', 'Jackson Cage', 'She's the One', and 'Raise Your Hand'. On the first night of a two night stand in Philly he added 'Seaside Bar Song' (a song they played way back at the start) and on the second night added five more debuts ('Night', 'Trapped', 'Darkness at the Edge of Town', 'Streets of Philadelphia' and 'Kitty's Back'. In DC on April 1st a storming version of 'Adam Raised a Cain' is added to the main set and the first one from vaults of the 'Darkness' sessions 'The Promise' gets a welcome airing, whilst in the encore crowd favorite 'Out in the Streets' gets it's debut. Opening night in New Jersey only one tour debut, from the 'Tracks' boxset, 'So Young and In Love'. Second night in the Swamplands brings a whole bundle of debuts ('Ties that Bind', 'Candy's Room', 'Johnny 99', 'Racing in the Street' and during the encore the mighty 'Ramrod' got a hearing (a blog on the second night is forthcoming, just waiting for video or audio to become available).

Thirdly, at aged 62 and after 40 odd years of tearing down venues across the USA and the World, Bruce Springsteen still likes to have a lot of fun: Dancing with Girls; Crowd Surfing; Knee Slides on stage; Drinking Beer and Crowd Surfing; Dancing with his Mum; In the balcony hanging out with fans; Climbing Balconies and standing on ledges!

Fourthly, Jake Clemons, nephew of The Big Man is getting a lot of love from the fans and is continuing to grow into his place as a member of The East Street Band.

Fifthly, and finally, during the playing of 'My City of Ruins' Bruce is calling the "Roll Call" and most nights the gist of his little speech in the middle of the song is this:
"Tonight's story is about hellos and goodbyes. It's about the things that leave us and the things that stay behind." 

After a roll call, he asked, "Are we missing anybody?" and evoking both Clarence and Danny, added,

 "If you're here tonight and we're here tonight, then they're here tonight."

So what we learn is that whilst there is a celebratory feel to the shows there is also an act of remembrance of those who have past as well as a welcoming of new friends into the fold, and with a 16 piece band that's a whole lot of people laying down the guantlet night after night and showing that Bruce Springsteen is still a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the live performance.

Lots then to look forward to for the rest of the tour.
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