I was having a wee listen to this show again this morning. Thought it would be good to post about it, sorry I couldn't seem to find a whole lot of links. Enjoy the ones that I did find though.
September 20 / United Center / Chicago, IL
Notes: What a wonderful diversion this show was, as the band settles in for the last leg of what has amounted to a two-year-plus-long tour. We knew we were going to get the Born to Run album start to finish but could only speculate whether it would open the show, close the show, or none of the above. Bruce takes such care to craft a new show—how would he insert a 40-minute opus into an otherwise solid set?
Not to open: a gritty "Seeds" took that spot for the first time. "No Surrender" followed, with Nils and Bruce locked in their frenetic guitar duel. "Johnny 99" had Bruce prowling the stage, cueing each solo with a shake of his fist. "Cover Me" capped off this early Recession Suite, Bruce repeating the refrain "times are tough, just getting tougher" several times, and Nils closing the song with a searing solo.
Ater "Outlaw Pete" the mood brightened with "Hungry Heart", a major crowd pleaser for which Bruce again circumnavigated the pit as in South Carolina. He dropped out of sight for a moment, then suddenly he was making his way across the back barricade, hopping from one built-in bench seat to the next. Back on stage, two verses into "Working on a Dream", the song came to a halt. "Ladies and gentlemen, I hear the sound of the E Street Band f***ing up! It can still happen after all these years... It ain't pretty." Following the song, Bruce fessed up: "Steven said I missed a verse, so it was the Boss's fault."
At 9:05 pm, the night's centerpiece began. Bruce introduced the Born to Run album: "What we are about to do we've only done once before, in a little theater in Red Bank.” He added, “When we made this record we were close to being dumped by our record company. This was our last chance." At the opening notes of "Thunder Road" the crowd became unhinged with emotion, turning the song into a full-length audience participation event.
And so the album sequence began. The only song of the eight that lagged, surprisingly for me, was "Night." It lacked the intensity with which I've seen them play it before. The much-coveted "Meeting Across the River" into "Jungleland" pairing was phenomenal, closing the Born to Run show-within-a-show at 9:54 pm; 49 minutes in total. In an era of iTunes and record company meltdowns, it was a treat to hear an album played as it was originally meant to be heard, some 34 years ago. Guest musicians included Curt Ramm on trumpet for "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out and "Meeting Across the River," along with Richard Davis for the latter, reprising his album role on on stand-up bass.
Back in the regular set, it was time for "Sunny Day." Mid-song, Bruce threw his guitar to Kevin Buell—it shot farther up in the air than out, leaving Kevin to dive in front of Max's kit to catch it. Bruce hunched his shoulders, offering a sheepish “Uh... Sorry?" A young boy, ten or 11 years old, came on stage to sing the chorus. His voice was shaky, but as Bruce made a move to count him back into tempo, the kid kept singing. Bruce laughed and looked at him as if to say "Don’t mind me, kid. It looks like you know what you're doing."
"Badlands" closed the main set, a counterpoint to its opening slot on much of this tour. And on to the encore: "Hard Times" was stellar, in particular the a cappella portion at the end, and the request portion of the night began, delayed but not preempted by the Born to Run performance in the main set. The band vamped on "Raise your Hand" as Bruce collected signs. I saw requests for "Man's Job" (!), "Point Blank," "Splish Splash," "Spirit in the Night," "Ramrod," "Runaround Sue," and what looked to be several hundred others. The first winner, however, was "Da Doo Ron Ron," on a big bright green sign from up in the 300 level, courtesy of my buds Jeff and Sarah (way to go, guys!). Bruce dedicated it to Ellie Greenwich, "a fantastic songwriter who passed away recently." The band didn’t have much trouble with it, achieving a Spector-worthy Wall of Sound just a few bars in. Bruce said to Clarence: "C, it’s got a very complicated sax solo. Just play it!" And Bruce sang it from a woman's point of view, channeling his inner Crystal: "I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still, Da Doo Ron Ron Ron, Da Do Ron Ron. Somebody told me that his name was Bill..."
Next was Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin" (no mention of Michael Jackson), which was considerably harder for the band to sort out. As the band worked to find the right key, the crowd started singing the song. Bruce said, in a gravelly, insincere, funny voice: “Yeah, we appreciate it! Yeah yeah, it’s a great one...” "Dancing in the Dark" (with a gaggle of adolescents on stage for the Heyyyyy, babys), "American Land," and a very loose "Rosalita" closed the show. Bruce shouted, "Thanks for a great night!" And off he slipped into the night.
- Marya Morris reporting (Notes from show taken from Backstreets Website)
Working on a Dream
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Born to Run
She's the One
Meeting Across the River
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
* * *
Raise Your Hand (instrumental)
Da Doo Ron Ron
I'm Goin' Down
Dancing in the Dark