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Springsteen Wraps Up Tour

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No matter what you think about the arc of Bruce Springsteens’ career – my favorite album of his came out 30 years ago, The Wild the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle – there is still nothing like a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert.

On the 14-month tour that just ended triumphantly at Shea Stadium, more than 2 million people either found out for themselves or were joyfully reminded of one of the few sure things in this big nasty world: that Bruce and the band bring it every night, give it all they’ve got, and confirm the redemptive power of rock ‘n’ roll, even now in the 21st century amidst strife, cynicism and the near-collapse of the recording industry. No wonder Bruce is almost a religion to a lot of people.

I didn’t see this tour but we saw a ’99 show in Cleveland, and it was as good as any I’ve seen other than a 4 1/2 hour insane marathon of delirious jubilation at the Akron Civic in 1974, where they were handing out flyers at the door for Springsteen’s forthcoming album, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, the working title of Born to Run before the success of the single overwhelmed any thoughts of naming the album anything else.

For the last hour of the multi-encore show, my friend Bucky and I stood right in front of the stage and screamed and sang and bounced and waved at Bruce, absolutely convinced we knew him, like a best friend’s older brother.

The crowd would just not let Springsteen stop that night, as if something uniquely precious would be lost forever once the music stopped and the electricity was allowed to escape into the night. And it was, but Bruce has brought it back a thousand times since:

    Springsteen and his E Street Band, with Bob Dylan as a one-song guest, wrapped it up Saturday on a Shea Stadium stage, across the Hudson River from where their tour began in August 2002 in northern New Jersey. In the intervening months, they performed for more than 2 million people around the world.

    ….Springsteen’s tour is likely to fall just short of being the most lucrative concert tour of all time in North America — a $121.2 million record set by the Rolling Stones in 1994, according to Pollstar magazine.

    It included a stunning 13 stadium dates this summer and fall in the New York area alone — 10 at Giants Stadium and the final three at Shea Stadium. The schedule was designed to ensure that anybody who wanted to see the show could find a ticket.

    The crisp autumn air added to Saturday’s feeling of finality. A cold rain ended just as Springsteen and the band took the stage.

    The three-hour, 15-minute show ended with Springsteen’s attempt to make a stadium feel like a roadside bar. The stands shook during an old favorite, “Rosalita,” and singer Gary U.S. Bonds joined Springsteen for “Quarter to Three” and “Twist and Shout.” The latter was a nod to the Beatles, for whom Shea Stadium was a memorable venue four decades ago.

    The night ended a few minutes before midnight with band members lined up onstage, holding hands, singing, “Blood Brothers.”

    “Til we meet again,” Springsteen said, and left with a wave. [AP]

Sounds like a promise.

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About Eric Olsen

  • Mark Saleski

    every time bruce tours, the shows just get better…more intense.

    i’m still a little bummed that i didn’t get to any of the fenway shows…especially since they’ve brought Rosalita back into the set.

  • Rodney Welch

    My own blog comments regarding his December 9, 2002 Show at the Carolina Center:

    No surprise — this was truly a kick-ass show.

    I haven’t seen Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in close to 20 years, but they were as good as they ever were. Springsteen in middle-age may not be quite the rock and roll athlete he was in his prime, but his energy hasn’t diminished by much — he and that glorious band still pump it out like it’s the last show on earth. A truly inspirational evening.

    The set included most, perhaps all, of The Rising as well as a wonderful array of oldies: “Ramrod,” “Growin’ Up,” “She’s the One,” “No Retreat, No Surrender,” “Badlands,” “The Promised Land,” “Born in the U.S.A.” and, naturally “Born to Run.” No “Jungleland,” unfortunately, as we had hoped, but what the hell. Oh, and a blazing, fantastic, all-stops-out “Devil With a Blue Dress” medley for an encore, along with “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”

    Bruce has lost none of his showmanship; he worked that crowd. You could tell that he saw it as his sworn duty to take a group of 14,000 people all primed to rock and just push them over the edge — push them over the edge by pushing himself over it. The groove just keeps building and building. And what an electric jolt was the band: Little Steve, Gary, Roy, the magisterial Clarence, Nils, Mighty Max, Patti, Danny, and some chick on violin whose name escapes me. How good it was to see them all again.

    The first time I ever saw Bruce Springsteen was in January of 1981, and I wrote some little column about it for The Marion (S.C.) Star, where I then worked. I don’t know whatever became of that piece, but I remember writing it with the same enthusiasm I feel now, and I recall saying how, as I was writing, my voice was still hoarse, I had shin splints from jumping around like a maniac and my hands were raw from clapping. I thank I ended that piece by saying “Thanks Bruce.”

    I feel the exact same way now.

  • Eric Olsen

    Terrific Rodney, I can feel the show through your description and energy. Thanks.