Despite being on the verge of turning 63 (his birthday is Sept. 23rd), Bruce Springsteen wasn't slowing down much in his second of three shows with the E Street Band at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Friday night. He didn't run side to side along the stage as much as in the past (or slide on his knees after doing so), but aside from that he was his energetic self, with plenty of vocal strength, in the three-hour show on Friday, Sept. 21st. (See set lists for the 21st, 22nd, and other shows at Springsteen's live dates page.)
I've seen Springsteen and the band about a dozen times in all (over a period of almost 40 years), and I'd have to say Friday night's show was one of the best. Maybe it was the wide-ranging setlist, which included oldies such as "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?" and "Incident on 57th Street" leading into a typically rousing "Rosalita."
Or perhaps Springsteen was energized to be playing in his home state again—and breaking in yet another new venue (his MetLife show Wednesday was his first appearance at the new home of the NFL's Giants and Jets). A few times he said "Jersey! Jersey! Jersey!," and adding "My people!" afterwards near the end of the show. (The last time I had seen Springsteen and the band was during the final run of shows at the old Giants Stadium in 2009.)
Bruce was also no doubt happy to team up with an old friend, Gary U.S. Bonds, who made a two-song appearance with the band. Springsteen resurrected the career of the "Quarter to Three" rock and roll pioneer in the early '80s, and on Friday the two sang "Jolie Blon" and "This Little Girl," both from Bonds's comeback album, "Dedication."
Like many Springsteen fans, I was curious to see how this version of the E Street Band—the first to not feature the late Clarence Clemons—would sound, and how his passing would be acknowledged. A five-piece horn section handled the brass duties, featuring Jake Clemons, Clarence's nephew, who played most but not all sax solos and seemed to fit right in.
As for recognition of the Big Man, Springsteen introduced "My City of Ruins" by talking about ghosts, how they were always with us. He said the song was "For all your ghosts... and all our ghosts, too."
A more specific tribute took place in "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," when Bruce halted the song after singing the key line about when "the Big Man joined the band." A number of photos of Clarence were shown on the video screens, to enthusiastic applause, after which the song resumed.
This was my first time in a general admission standing section on the floor of a stadium, and it proved to be a good decision. Although I wasn't in the "pit," or front section, Springsteen walked out along pathways blocked off by barricades to sing on small elevated stages on each side of the GA section.
Springsteen had several audience members on stage during the night. The first was a young boy, who sang a bit of "Waitin' on a Sunny Day." Later he invited several fans up on stage to dance with band and crew members, apparently based on signs they had been holding up.
As if there was any doubt, Friday's show demonstrated that Springsteen's still got it: not only in terms of his vocal strength but in energy, stamina, and ability to put on a show that pleases the crowd for an entire three hours.
(One sour note: As you'll notice, we have no photos from the concert.
That's because a "no camera" policy was strictly enforced, and my small
digital camera was one of many deposited at a bag check near the
stadium entrances. Ironically, most of the people at the show had
smartphones that had a higher quality camera than my seven-year-old
See "Notes from the Road" for MetLife night #2 at BruceSpringsteen.net
See the set lists for all three nights at MetLife (Sept. 19th, 21st, and 22nd), and other past shows, at Springsteen's live dates page. Click on the symbol to the right of "Wrecking Ball Tour" to view set list for each date.
Set List: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (from Springsteen's website)MetLife Stadium, Friday, Sept. 21st, 2012
"Wrecking Ball" Tour
1. Living on the Edge of the World
2. Out in the Street
4. Hungry Heart
5. No Surrender
6. Lost in the Flood
7. We Take Care of Our Own
8. Wrecking Ball
9. Death to My Hometown
10. My City of Ruins
11. Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
12. Jole Blon
13. This Little Girl
14. From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)
15. Talk to Me
16. This Depression
17. Shackled and Drawn
18. Mary's Place
19. Waitin' on a Sunny Day
20. Incident on 57th Street
21. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
1. Rocky Ground
2. Born to Run
4. Bobby Jean
5. Dancing in the Dark
6. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
7. American Land