Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Concert Review: 8/23/16, Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford
After a summer abroad, Springsteen returned last night to his home state, and performed one of his more somber and challenging setlists that I have seen. When I last saw Springsteen, he was at the end of the first leg of the new River tour. Since then, he ditched playing the entirety of The River, performing varied sets throughout Europe. I chose not to look at the setlists all summer in order to be surprised, and found last nights results fascinating.
Previously opening most of the tour with the new rocker "Meet Me In The City", Bruce kicked off the night with "New York City Serenade", setting the somber mood to come. Throughout the section of the concert, special care was taken in emotive performances of "Independence Day", "Jack of All Trades" (with a small introduction by Bruce), and "American Skin" (surprisingly lacking an introduction). The lighter songs were pocked with some more seriousness as well, as Bruce grumped at taking a selfie with a fan during "Santa Clause Is Coming To Town", and forewent the crowd-surf at the end of "Hungry Heart".
However, the moodier songs in the first half gave Bruce's bouncier songs a stronger punch. Going through the darkness made the light seem even brighter, as the crowd welcomed barroom rockers like "Working on the Highway" and "Darlington County". However, even after a flurry of crowd-pleasing boppers, Bruce still brought down the house with "Jungleland" to start the encore. It was merely the start of a nearly hour long encore, which could have ended with "Shout", but, staying true to the core of the night, ended with slower, more thoughtful songs like "Bobby Jean" and "Jersey Girl".
Clocking in at almost four hours, it was one of the more complex Springsteen shows I've seen. Maybe it was not so much what he said, but rather what he didn't say: there were no political rants, not many jokes, and very few "Bruce stories". As he has done throughout his career, he let his music speak for him.