2002-12-16 Value City Arena, Columbus, OH
David Eidelberg It's been a long time since I saw Bruce and the E Street Band in Concert. First time was before The River came out, then at No Nukes (I grew up in New York), then at Richfield Coliseum in Cleveland after Born in the USA. Bruce and the band are just amazing. They're older, but they sure don't act any different. The show was very familiar; like going home. The pace of the show seemed different with more breaks in the momentum for slow songs and frankly, they're not all my cup of tea. But the band is better than ever, there were songs to please everybody and it's only right for Bruce and the band to want to put some of the old tunes (my favorites) to rest and show the world what they can do now. It would be fun to hear them play the E Street Shuffle though!
Bass Man This was a great Bruce Springsteen show. He came out with good enthusiasm. (though someone I talked to said in Cleveland he had more) he opened with the usual "Rising" and "Lonesome Day" combo, which works well. the highlights of the show were the performances of "Waitin' on a Sunny Day", "Candy's Room," the newer rock version of "Dancing in the Dark.," (he's onto something great with this) and "Glory Days." Everyone in the place was dancing. in the middle of "Glory Days" he broke into "Hang on Sloopy." it was one of the best medleys I've ever heard. "Santa Claus is coming to town" was working for everyone too. "Dancing in the Dark" was a good way to end the show and it had the audience wanting more. (which is never a bad thing). The show was great. It really carried on and I never thought that it was dragging. "If I Should Fall Behind" was done solo on the piano and I think that's one of the best versions I've heard. All in all, the audience was happy and i think the band was satisfied with this one as well.
Jeff Mazurek Anyway, impressions as I remember them from the nosebleeds — furthest section away, almost as far up as you can be.
Compared to Auburn Hills: better show, worse crowd. Well, maybe just the section I was in — it got up for about 6 songs, the rest of the time we were sitting down. Which is really too bad.
The Rising / Lonesome Day / Promised Land / The Fuse
Ok, I'm lumping these four together because I can. The whole string reminded me of how keyboard based the E St Band really is. Bruce hit better guitar solos than at the last show — crisper notes, less duds, all good considering he plays solos with his eyes closed. Hearing the piano-guitar-sax-harmonica combo in the bridge of Promised Land reminded me of why I ever liked the song. Its magical to hear it. Somehow I keep on avoiding the song on record and on live recordings, but just love to see it played.
Candy's Room
This one gets to be by itself. I said, "Holy shit! Candy's Room? YEAH!" … it was one of the unexpected ones for the night. A real ripper for guitar work, and its just … weird, how short the song really is.
Empty Sky / You're Missing
This again put a spell over the crowd. Bruce asked for quiet, and he got it — falsetto vocals, acoustic guitar, piano work — the subtle pieces seemed to work the best out of everything. Didn't get people moving away like "The Fuse" did.
Waitin' on a Sunny Day / Out in the Street
Putting these together because they both managed to get everyone singing, both songs are immense fun to listen to. And plus — and I kid you not — Bruce took a running start and slid on his knees across the front of the stage. 15, 20 feet. Dan and I thought he was going to slide right off the edge. I still can't understand how he did that, though it did look like he got a drink of water / greased his knees before he did it.
Worlds Apart / Badlands / Two Hearts
The crowd remains seated. Worlds Apart again shows off some mean mean guitar work from Bruce and Steve van Zandt, notes sounding like human screams. Somehow. Badlands is still a warhorse of a song, and got at least some of our section standing. Two Hearts is never a song that I can say I liked much. Nuff said there. I missed "She's the One" in this spot, and can only wonder if out section would have stood for the Bo Diddley beat.
Mary's Place
Finally, people in our lame section stood up. But only because Bruce pretty much made them. He said something like, "Are you ready? Its time to get off your asses! Over there too! Yes, come on up for the ass rising!" And another 15-20 feet knee slide across the stage at the end of the song. Wow. This song also introduced the band. Clarence (the sax player) was introduced as, among other things, "Emperor of Ohio and all adjacent territories!" In Auburn Hills he was introduced simply as "The coolest man on the whole goddam planet!" The song also included a small snippet of "Rescue Me," when he introduced Patti.
Countin' on a Miracle / If I should Fall Behind
The former featured an extended acoustic guitar intro from Nils Lofgren, probably the best guitar work of the entire show, such subtle touch Nils has. The song still is kind of weird to listen to. The latter featured Bruce playing solo on the piano. He's a fine piano player. Did some pretty good vocal work on the piece too, and I wondered what it sounded like when he and Dion did it earlier on the tour.
Thunder Road
This one stands alone. Always has, always will. I believe it to be the best song that Bruce ever wrote, and the way he plays it now — just slow enough for a romantic sort of dance, but still with the full band, and less manic vocals, it works better than ever. Poetry.
Into the Fire
I like it better live than on album, but the way Bruce approached the song in general it just seems so blatant that I didn't care for it much. My brother's wife, a firefighter, loved it.
Where the Bands Are
First of the encores. Nobody knew it except us die hards who actually shucked out a bunch of money for the "Tracks" boxed set, or those who actually bought that CD "18 Tracks" — its a great, upbeat song, but I was beginning to think that Bruce was pulling stuff out to try to move the crowd more. Or our section, anyway. Rest of the crowd seemed fantastic. Very high energy stuff.
Glory Days / Hang on Sloopy / Glory Days / Hang on Sloopy
The double coda of this song was great to hear, and this was the second time that everyone stood up. It was a big hit. Hang on Sloopy was a bigger hit, for the McCoys some ages ago. Bruce had fun playing it. The crowd absolutely loved it. In between the "yeahs" the crowd was shouting the letters "O-H-I-O" … gee, I wonder if it was something they do at ballgames. When people of the future talk about this show, this will be the part that's most mentioned.
Born to Run
This is the one that Bruce I guess feels he can't do without — more or less played at every single concert since god knows when. In his words, it is "summational". House lights came on here, crowd goes nuts, does a bunch of "wa-ohs" — you know the story.
My City of Ruins / Born in the USA / Land of Hope and Dreams
More standing up from the crowd — particularly for the latter. Perhaps the most political part of the show was here, and Born in the USA introduced bass to the sound system that hadn't been there before. Bruce doesn't sing the chorus much really, prefers to avoid singing it. I wonder what tour he stopped doing the chorus — acoustic versions aside? He just goes ballistic on the guitar. It was like a contest between Bruce and Max to see who would let up making noise first.
Ok … a break here. About 9 or 10 Santa Claus hats got tossed on the stage from the audience, you know, as the band was waving at everybody. Bruce picks up one of the hats. He stares at it for like 2 minutes. Then …
Santa Claus is Comin to Town / Dancing in the Dark
Place pretty much blows up. I guess you could say that he couldn't escape the Santa hats even if he did want to go home. Bruce has the hat drooped over one eye, Clarence gets to sing the bass bits while Bruce whips his head around to make the white ball on the end of the cap swirl around like a spinning chain. And then, while its a bit cheesy to end the night with what everyone knows is your biggest hit ever, he does it anyway. I like the version on this tour though — synths replaced by organ and guitars, and Bruce pretty much jumps up and down like he's on a pogo stick through most of the song. And reprises it a couple three times. But to see "Santa" live, well, its like a once in a lifetime thing, and it brings the whole season to the front of your mind. My friend Dan said after this one, "My mom is gonna be so pissed that he played that and she wasn't here."
Then it was time to go home. Long boring ride, then I wolfed down a quick breakfast at Theo's — because I was starving. And back at home, in mid-Michigan, I wondered if I would go to another Columbus show should there be another. Hell, the parking was free and that really surprised me.
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