Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band, Tuesday, August 23rd And Thursday, August 25th, 2016 At Metlife, Reviewed
Any time you see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band you know you’re in for a great show. But what you’re really hoping for, though, is something legendary. The old timers will talk about the Capital Theater or the Agora in ’78, Nassau Coliseum on New Year’s Eve 1980, nights that are still talked about 30 or 40 years later. Those of us lucky to be at Bruce’s MetLife shows this past week got to see two epic shows that fit that category.
We knew it was going to be a special night on Tuesday when a string section took the stage just before the band. Bruce opened with a chill-inducing version of the rarely played “New York City Serenade”. He then switched into high energy mode with a run of rockers, including a passionate “Something in the Night”. A sign request for “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” was honored in August, with the sing maker brought up on stage to sing with the Boss, soloing on the “better be good for goodness sake” part. The fans loved it! Next came “Independence Day” with a never-before told story about his non-communicative father finally acknowledging that his favorite of his son’s songs were “the ones about me”. “Growing Up” was also a sign request.
Things slowed down with an acoustic section. “Jack of All Trades” sent many scurrying for the bathrooms (including me). However, this part of the show was redeemed with a beautiful “My Hometown” followed by “The River”. Also special was “American Shots”, certainly an apt commentary in these days of Black Lives Matter. Momentum quickly picked up with another string of uptempo songs, highlighted by Nils Lofgren’s searing spinning solo on “Because the Night” and a lovely duet with Patti on “Brilliant Disguise”.
The encores brought this show to the level of legend. “Jungleland’ kicked things off, with Jake Clemons nailing his uncle’s solo. The usual string of energetic rockers led to the usual show closer “Shout”. By the way, is there any musical of expression of pure joy better than “Rosalita?” But Bruce wasn’t done, following up with “Bobby Jean” and ending with “Jersey Girl” At 3 hours and 52 minutes, it was the longest E Street Band show on American soil.
Coming back on Thursday, we thought it would be impossible to top Tuesday in length or intensity, but Bruce managed to do both. The original concept of The River tour was pretty much gone, with only 5 songs played from that album. The title track was omitted for the first time on this tour. What we got, thought was magnificent. The band and crowd were on fire all night. An adorable three year old girl did a creditable job on the otherwise insipid “Waiting on a Sunny Day”. Amazing intense versions of “Darkness on the Edge of Town” and “Lost in the Flood” came from sign requests. A politically charged run of songs mid-set was kick started by the presence of 2014 Bruce man crush Tom Morello on “Death to My Hometown”. Nils then outdid his fireworks on “Youngstown”. More hot rockers followed. Patti got her duet on “Tougher Than the Rest”. Morello returned for “The Ghost of Tom Joad”. For guitar gear heads, Morello was playing a Les Paul rather than his usual slogan-decorated Stratocaster. Maybe it burst into flames.
The encores started with a beautifully done “Backstreets”, continued through the same songs as Tuesday until “Thunder Road” after shout. “This one got away from us last night” Bruce said before starting the iconic harmonica riff. “Jersey Girl” again closed the show, but with a twist. Noticing a commotion down front, Bruce saw that a young man was making a marriage proposal. He stopped in the middle of the final verse, called the couple up on stage and gave the young man the mic to make his proposal very public.
These were my 30th and 31st Bruce shows, and two I will never forget.