Bruce Springsteen concert review

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Yes, the shows were shorter — relatively speaking. (Two hours instead of three). Yes, there was only one encore, instead of two. But those were nuances that might nettle only a longtime fan. Springsteen and the E Streeters still pack quite a wallop, and an appreciative sold-out audience roared its approval throughout.

The Boss and his band opened the show with a punchy "Radio Nowhere," off the band's latest CD, "Magic" and followed up with strong versions of "No Surrender," "Lonesome Day" and "Gypsy Bikers."

Then came, according to Springsteen, "The title tune of our smash hit LP!" which was, of course, "Magic", delivered in a more haunting way than on the CD, with Bruce on stage alone with fiddler Soozie Tyrell.

Springsteen set the tone for the show early, bouncing around the stage, exhorting the audience to cheer or sing along, and generally being his usual Energizer bunny self.

Following "Magic," the band pushed things up a notch at this point: a crunching version of "Reason to Believe," with a powerful harmonica solo by Springsteen, followed by an equally dramatic rendition of "Darkness on the Edge of Town."

The songs were coming faster now, with shorter breaks: "Candy's Room" quickly morphed into a thunderous "She's the One," complete with screeching guitar solos by Springsteen and guitarist Nils Lofgren and the climactic sax solo by Clarence "The Big Man" Clemens.

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Clemens, as befits a fellow who's 65, is not particularly mobile these days. But, unlike the past few tours, when there were noticeable flat spots, Clemens' sax work on Thursday night was flawless. Hey, he's not on stage to dance, folks.

Springsteen sandwiched the anthemic "Promised Land" between two more "Magic" cuts, "Living in the Future" and "I'll Work For Your Love," with the latter song dedicated to his wife, Patti Scialfa, who was not in attendance.

Then the audience got a lovely treat: Springsteen called for a "a double shot" from "The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle" which turned out to be the tour premieres of "Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" and "The E Street Shuffle." "Shuffle" in fact, hasn't seen the light of day, stagewise, since 2000, according to Backstreets.com, a fan website.

Keyboard player Danny Federici was showcased on "Sandy," playing a soulful accordion solo.

The regular set wound up with several more songs from "Magic," including, in this reviewer's mind, the best cut from the CD: The woebegone "Long Walk Home." The set ended with a powerful "Badlands," as Clemens blasted another signature solo.

The encore began with "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" and burst into what some call Springsteen's "triple blockbuster": "Thunder Road," "Born to Run" and "Dancin' In the Dark." All big fan favorites, all played at high volume.

The show ended with a "Seeger Sessions" tune, the Irish-flavored "The American Land," featuring Federici and Roy Bittan on dueling accordions, and The Big Man delicately playing a pennywhistle.


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