Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band are still rockin’
Three hours and 26 songs have fans happy at Wrigley
By Steve Metsch
If your Friday night is open and you have money to spend, consider heading to Wrigley Field.
No, the red-hot Cubs are not playing in their ivy-covered baseball shrine. But Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band are. And it will be money well-spent.
Springsteen, who last was in our area in Milwaukee in March, again proved age is just a number.
The Boss, who turns 74 in September, showed no signs of slowing down Wednesday night during a three-hour, 26-song concert that was delivered without any breaks. I never saw him take a sip of water.
How good was the show? My son Craig, 26, declared it “the best concert” he’s ever seen. And this is from a kid who has seen The Rolling Stones, Elton John, AC/DC, Peter Frampton, “Weird Al” Yankovic and Sir Paul McCartney.
“He’s got so much energy,” Craig said of Springsteen. I joked after the show that I hope I have the same energy when I’m 73
Starting with “No Surrender,” Springsteen and The E Street Band held the attention of a packed Wrigley Field all night long.
I was pleased with the setlist which, 51 years after his debut album, “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” has to be very difficult to put together.
Think about all the big hits he has, then you have the seldom-heard deep cuts, and then there are the covers. And don’t forget the tracks that will keep the devoted fans happy and at the same time not have those wanting the hits to go grab $15.99 beers.
It’s gotta be a huge challenge putting together setlist. But, judging by all the folks with us up in Section 323R who were dancing and singing and leaping to their feet, Springsteen’s mission was accomplished.
You want highlights? Here we go:
- Anyone who doubts Springsteen can play guitar, would have been floored several times. He was absolutely jamming, especially on “Prove It All Night,” the third song of the night;
- Two of the afore-mentioned deep cuts served up were “Kitty’s Back,” from 1973’s “The Wild, the Innocent & The E Street Shuffle,” and “Mary’s Place,” from “The Rising,” released in 2002. “Kitty’s highlighted the E Street Horns, a relatively new addition we saw in Milwaukee. “Mary’s” became an extended jam session. Both sounded terrific and the band appeared to be having fun;
- Speaking of fun, I don’t recall seeing many bands enjoy themselves as such as the E Street crew. Let’s face it, after 50 years – with a break in the middle when Springsteen broke up the band to pursue other interests – it would be easy to phone it in. Not these guys;
- We heard “Johnny 99” – from the 1982 “Nebraska” album – and it featured a stunning sex solo by Jake Clemons, nephew of the late Big Man, Clarence Clemons. That’s a song we haven’t heard often in concert;
- Maybe it’s age, but The Boss is more reflective than ever. As he has at other stops on this tour, he told a heartfelt story about the passing 0f George Theiss, with whom Springsteen was in his first band, The Castiles, from 1965 to 1968. Not a bad run for a bunch of high school kids. That led to his playing “Last Man Standing,” a kinda somber but special song, as Bruce is now the sole survivor of that band;
- Guitarist Nils Lofgren was outstanding on his solo on “Because the Night,” a song Springsteen wrote for Patty Smyth;
- We actually heard words from bass player Gary Tallent. During a rollicking take on “Out in the Street,” from the 1980 album “The River,” each band member had a chance to sing those four words. I had never heard Tallent say a word in eight previous shows dating back to 1981;
- Guitarist Steve Van Zandt, drummer Max Weinberg and pianist Roy Bittan were all in fine form;
- It was great to hear “Wrecking Ball,” his ode to the Giants Stadium, former home of the New York Giants and New York Jets. I found it interesting that he played a song about a stadium that was used from 1976 to 2010 in a ballpark that saw its first game in 1914. Springsteen missed a gold opportunity to note the irony of the football stadium coming and going while Wrigley is like the Energizer Bunny.
After the night’s 20th song, the still powerful “Thunder Road,” the band roared into its encore although it technically never left the stage.
Here’s what I thought they goofed up.
The bright baseball lights were illuminated for the next five five songs: “Born To Run,” “Rosalita,” “Glory Days,” “Dancing in the Dark” – hard to do when the place is lit up like a Christmas tree – and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.”
It would’ve been better to keep the baseball lights turned off. Turning them on made it hard to see two of three huge video screens. The lights should stay off till the show is over.
In our post-concert wrap-up at a watering hole near the ballpark, we agreed that The Boss missed a chance to bring the house down during “Glory Days.” You are in Wrigley Field, the legendary ballpark that is home to a beloved team. There’s a line in that song about a guy who “could throw that speed ball by you, make you look like a fool, boy.”
Why not tweak that line just a little?
How about “he could throw that speed ball by you, just like Kerry Wood did.” You’ve won over everyone, even White Sox fans.
Anyhow, prices on the resale market for Friday aren’t too bad last time I checked. The cheapest on StubHub were $106 before fees up in the 400 level .
With those dreaded fees, our $135 tickets cost $175 each to sit upstairs in 323R between home plate and first base.
StubHub, SeatGeek, Vivid Seats. They all have tickets. Other sites are out there. There were scalpers outside the ballpark selling tickets when we got off the “L” Wednesday night.
Why not treat yourself?, so he’s no longer doing the four-hour shows of years gone by. But three hours from a band whose leader is 73?
Yep, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band still prove it all night.
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