Published on theMusic.com.au | 06.02.14
Published in The Music (WA) | 12.02.14 | Issue # 25
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND
5 February, 2014
Looking back to Bruce Springsteen’s classic 1973-debut record Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., it’s hard to believe The Boss hadn’t ventured to Western Australia in the 40 years that followed. 17 studio albums and countless world tours later, and he finally decided it was time to introduce The E Street Band to Perth.
Anyone who made the trip over east in 2012 to catch the legends in action knew just how mind-blowing the show was going to be, and the anticipation from the first timers transformed into three separate attempts to get the wheels in motion via a slow clap and chant that erupted into a cheer. But, as everyone quickly discovered, The Boss takes queues from no one.
The lights shut off and the stage began filling with talent. A spotlight opened up on Springsteen. “Hey, Perth! It’s great to be in the most remotest place on earth,” his voice echoed throughout the arena. “I’ve had my vegemite sandwich, and all I need to know is, are you ready?”
Frankie Fell In Love off Springsteen’s latest record, High Hopes, was the set opener. A fitting introduction considering it was the album that finally gave way to Perth dates. With its pulsating and contagious rhythm,Into The Fire then saw legendary guitarist Tom Morello unleash on his custom strat, and when he had done all he could with his hand, he lifted his guitar to his head to finish the solo with his mouth, while guitarist Steven Van Zandt spent most of the song next sharing Springsteen’s microphone.
Signs with song requests littered the standing area, which now resembled a pack of protesters trying to make their way to the front to get a little closer to the action. Springsteen starred off into the distance, shaking his guitar to gather feedback to mix with the roaring audience. His guitar slowly faded out, he took it off and tossed it halfway across the stage to a guitar tech. Lobbing his guitar in such a way didn’t only look extremely awesome, it also gave him the mobility to venture into the audience and shake hands during Hungry Heart – some punters gripping on for dear life and reluctantly letting go. He made his way to a platform in the middle of the room, and fell backwards into the audience, who slowly passed him back to the stage.
Some brief in-between song pleasantries with the audience before everyone became engaged in The E Street Shuffle. The E Street Band horn section made their way to centre stage to round things out before Springsteen took over with a solo that lead into an extended version of Kitty’s Back, during which almost every member of the 17-piece band was given their time to shine and prove their worth.
After sharing the spotlight, it was all eyes on The Boss again, as the stage went black and a spotlight on Springsteen gave way to Wrecking Ball, and then a harmonica made its way onstage for The River, which promoted one of the biggest sing-alongs of the evening.
It also showcased a songwriter whose lyrics, no matter how many times they’re sung, still evoke the same emotional performance. It was almost as if he was singing about something that was happened at that very moment.
Not Fade Away pulled things out of the refreshing mid-set intimacy, and it wasn’t long before he once again took his mic on a field trip into the audience. He became so engrossed in what he was going, he forgot the words, laughing and then climbing onto the same platform – only this time things got a little more interesting. Someone gave him a full beer, which he proceeded to skull, whilst receiving a back massage. He then returned to the stage, soaked in beer and a little more relaxed.
While there were few times when The E Street Band weren’t just as engaging at Springsteen, Shacked And Drawn was another chance for certain members to shine and saw 14 member up front dancing in sync.
Partway through Waitin’ On A Sunny Day, Springsteen’s guitar flew across the stage once again, and he made his way back into the crowd to scope out a fan to sing a few lines of a chorus. He pulled a little girl from the crowd, the band stopped, and she sang the chorus near perfect. If you’re under 10 years old and have the confidence to sing in front of a sold out arena with no backing music, and are a fan of Bruce Springsteen, you’ve got a bright future a head of you.
When all hope of the band-taking request from the signs scattered throughout the room seemed lost, Springsteen grabbed one. “I was wondering where these were,” he said as he positioned himself behind the piano, where he proved via For You that even without 17 ridiculously talented musicians backing him he was still incredible.
A duet between Morello and Springsteen formed for The Ghost Of Tom Joad, an old tune the pair re-recorded for High Hopes. Morello’s Rage Against The Machine used to cover the tune, so it made for an insane blend of talent. The two fed off each other’s aggression, sharing the same microphone, bouncing back and forth, swapping lines, and then had somewhat of a guitar-solo off before Morello unleashed and embarked on a solo that had everyone starring in awe.
A group of women up the front wearing pink bandanas were pulled onstage and dubbed Stevie’s Angels. Springsteen pulled a fan of his own up for Dancing In The Dark and danced around the stage with her before a guitar tech gave her an unplugged acoustic to strum along with. Before she was released back into the audience, she grabbed Springsteen and forced a kiss. With the house lights on and three hours fast approaching, it became clear things were coming to an end. Off came Springsteen’s vest, and he climbed onto the piano before jumping down and gyrating against the microphone stand in a way dangerously close to pole dancing. It’s easy to forget he’s 64 years old.
Tenth Avenue Freeze Out paid tribute to iconic E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who passed away in 2011, before Springsteen thanked the “legendary” E Street Band as they vacated the stage, one by one, and when it looked like it was all over, he grabbed an acoustic guitar and harmonica and bid farewell to his Perth debut and three-hour set with Thunder Road. Despite missing a few classics (Born In The USAparticularly), there’s no denying Bruce Springsteen is indeed The Boss.
Written by Daniel Cribb