"Good Evening New Jersey!"
It's one of the greatest sounds a Bruce fan can hear. There's nothing quite like that moment when the house lights go out, the stage lights go on and Bruce takes the stage. And you know for the next 3+ hours, you're about to see a legend in concert, and he won't disappoint. He never has before, and he isn't going to tonight. And man, was Bruce ON tonight.
I almost didn't make it to this concert, as tickets were incredibly difficult to get when they went on sale. Fortunately, my good buddy Kyle called me a few minutes after they went on sale while I was still trying to get them and told me he had gotten tickets. So off I went to the lovely Prudential Center in downtown Newark, NJ with Kyle, his girlfriend, and brother. This was the first time in a long time I was going to see Bruce without my fellow Legends Of Springsteen contributors. I was a little nervous that perhaps my fandom might be a little much for the others in my group, but they kept up right along with me belting out the lyrics to "Out In The Street", dancing on the floor of the Prudential Center to "Cadillac Ranch", and chugging beers like we were still in college to "Sherry Darling". We also met a really nice father and son on the floor who had been to countless shows together and were huge fans. I suggested that they visit this site later, so Matt and Joe if you see this, we had a blast rocking out with you!
The first thing I noticed about this show, was that the E Street Band was much smaller than it's been on the past few tours. That's actually a good thing, as I specifically remember thinking the last time I saw Bruce that the band had gotten comically large. Gone is the horns section, save Jake Clemons of course, and gone are the background singers, and back up percussionists. This is the lineup from the original River tour, except for the members who have passed away and been replaced, and plus Patti and Soozi Tyrell.
Also, this is kind of a strange tour. The River is a classic Bruce album, no doubt about it. But it's not one of his most classic. And 35 isn't exactly a milestone year. Put it this way, I'll be turning 35 in a few short years, and I don't in any way see it as a milestone. What did I care though? If it meant going to see Bruce live, I didn't care how strange the touring circumstances were.
But of course, Bruce explained it perfectly. This wasn't his introduction to rock and roll like Greetings From Asbury Park or his masterpiece Born To Run. And he was still a few years away from the height of his popularity with Born In The USA. This was him proving he still had "it". It was the album Bruce wrote in his 30s, way past the point where he can say he was the new guy, the up and comer. He had been around for too long and had way too much success. But he wasn't done, so he wasn't at the point where he could just rest on his laurels, and call it a career. Hell, I don't even think he's at that point now, nor does he want to be. Bruce proved tonight what he's proved to me every night that I've gone to see him: that he wants to be better than he was the last time he played.
And of course, after he played The River in it's entirety he played a setlist that would rival any of his other previous ones. Non-stop crowd pleasers, including having the house lights on for his entire encore. By the end of the night, there wasn't a disappointed fan in all of the Prudential Center. I would write more, but I'm exhausted and need to go to bed now. Bottom line: if you're debating on whether or not to go see Bruce on this tour, don't. It's 100% worth every penny, and for the first time in a long time, I left a Bruce concert without thinking "This might be the last tour I get to see him on." He's looks and sounds better than any performer half his age and shows absolutely no desire to slow down any time soon.
Click here for the entire setlist.