After that, Max Weinberg stepped aside to allow his son, E Street Band apprentice Jay Weinberg, to step in and drum on a few tracks. A few words about Jay before we discuss the next several songs. That young man is a beast behind the drum kit. He hits hard, he swings steady, and he has an energy to him. Seeing him bash away and mouth the words to songs he probably grew up listening to was quite a sight.
Jay's first stint began with a blistering "Radio Nowhere," played earlier than it has been at the majority of shows. From there, the band did the so-called "Recession Trio." "Seeds," "Johnny 99," and a rotation of either "The Ghost of Tom Joad" or "Youngstown" has been assumed by fans to be Springsteen's "State of the Economy" sermon. Following the great rendition of "Radio Nowhere," the energy and intensity of these three rockers was fierce and formed one of the strongest moments of the show. In Atlanta, "The Ghost of Tom Joad" was selected to be the final piece and it was at turns beautiful, stirring, and incendiary, the latter coming through the incredible guitar work of the great Nils Lofgren.
To kick off the "Sign Request" chapter of the show, the band does a cover of "Raise Your Hand," an old staple they've played many times over the years. The song is fun and does function nicely as a call to arms, or signs in this case. It was the first of three consecutive covers.
The first sign Bruce flashed to the audience taunted the band, boldly claiming they wouldn't know "96 Tears" which brought about the funniest moment of the night. Holding it up, Springsteen said, "We're talking about the greatest bar band in the world. You don't think we know '96 fuckin' Tears?'" It turns out they did...and they didn't.
Roy Bittan needed two tries to get the keyboard intro. It took another turn or two for Bruce and Roy to decide what key to play it in - something Bruce changed once or twice during the performance. It also found Bruce staring at a teleprompter or the back of the sign to get some help with the lyrics. It was fun and seemed enjoyable to the crowd, but it overstayed its welcome, especially when it was clear the band knew it but didn't. I still don't understand what's wrong with playing Bruce Springsteen songs at a Bruce Springsteen show.