Home / The Friday Morning Listen: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – The Magic Tour Resumes

The Friday Morning Listen: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – The Magic Tour Resumes

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Some people are just never satisfied.

There's this sort of "fan" in the Springsteen world who seems to spend all of his time complaining. It's one of those "can't win" situations because it hardly matters what Bruce does: it's just wrong. Josh Hathaway and his mysterious and knowledgeable cohort 11 refer to this person as BruceFan™. Perfect.

First complaint: Bruce doesn't sound like Bruce anymore. This obviously began all the way back in the Human Touch/Lucky Town era but has extended all the way through The Rising. Then Magic comes out, a true E Street record if my ears have ever heard one. BruceFan™ says, "It's clichéd, almost like Bruce is trying to parody his own sound." Right. I hate when Springsteen does this too, and am looking forward to his album of Yngwie Malmsteen covers. Sheesh!

The concerts: they're no longer a spiritual experience, Springsteen is just mailing it in, they're too short, the setlists are too predictable, "Born To Run" is no longer relevant, Patti annoys me, Steve is fat, Clarence is old.

What this all boils down to is that BruceFan™ is the one getting on in years, the bitterness dripping from the fact that it is no longer 1978. Live with it pal, it's all downhill from here! And please, stop wasting your money on those tickets.

Last night in Hartford, Connecticut, the Magic tour resumed with a solid repudiation of all that is BruceFan.™ The crowd had that electric crackle of anticipation, a feeling that went supernova when the lights dimmed and the E Street Band launched into the obscure "So Young And In Love." What followed was an adrenaline-charged show that was peppered with several rarely-played songs including "Janey Don't You Lose Heart" (with great vocal by Nils Lofgren), "Loose Ends," and "The River" (not super obscure, but not a setlist regular either). It was stunning.

It's obvious that both the band and the fans have grown into the material from Magic. Songs like "Gypsy Biker" (with vicious three-way guitar attack), "Devils Arcade," and "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" feel like they've been around forever. Really nice.

On top of the rarity-provided energy jolt, the masterstroke came late in the encore set when Bruce audibled (don't you love sports analogies?!) "Backstreets" after "Girls In Their Summer Clothes." There were a lot of "Oh my God"'s to be heard as Roy Bittan played out that intro. I didn't see this coming, and it made my one assigned task — texting the song playing at 10:15 to Josh, fodder for his B-Sides Concept Album radio show. I'm known for my lack of text message experience and, let me tell you, texting "Backstreets!" with shaking hands? Not So easy. We were not allowed to catch our collective breath as Bruce leaned into the searing guitar introduction to "Kitty's Back" (this time, my text message only took 30 seconds, down from over a minute). Going all the way back to The Wild, The Innocent, & the E Street Shuffle, "Kitty's" pretty much defines the early Springsteen era: an intense mix of blues, soul, jazz, and rock. This was the "over the top" moment of the evening.

"Born To Run" followed, house lights up. I don't know how many people fit into the Hartford Civic Center, but every single one of them was up: dancing and singing. It's quite amazing to share this experience with a roomful of strangers. Not a spiritual experience? Only if you're dead inside.

The show ended with "American Land." BruceFan™ hates this too because "everybody hates it." Has dancing with unhinged levels of energy become the new way to express hatred? Must be!

Anyway, me and TheWife™ were totally drained (we were also wondering if Blogcritics' own Lisa McKay survived her experience down in the pit — a post-show phone call confirmed that Lisa was now 20 pounds lighter due to fluid loss but was never washing again as Bruce may have sweated on her at her third row, center position).

We floated back around the corner to our hotel, where I proceed to check in with Josh's show, followed by a shower and dive into bed. Sleep seems so delicious after a night like this.

I, for one, am satisfied.

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About Mark Saleski

  • Great observations, Mark. BruceFan™s are at every show, only, of course, they’re “whatever artist”-fans. Why this has to be, I don’t know. They all know those days they pine for are long gone and yet they turn out tour after tour, sometimes ruining the show for everyone around them. There was even an AdrianFan™ at the Belew show last night who started out the show yelling out “I’M A LONE RHINO!” about 18 times hoping Adrian would both notice him and play the song. Neither happened and he moved on, thankfully.

  • My bones are complaining this morning, and on five hours of sleep I feel like the walking dead, but boy, was it ever worth it.

  • You’ll be getting a bill from 11 and I for the wanton use of our trademark phrase.

    Great review. 55 days. So it with me. 55 days.

  • Holy crap, what a setlist Mark! “So Young And In Love,” “Janey,” “Loose Ends,” and “Backstreets” and “Kittys Back” back to back? I can’t imagine it getting much beter than that.

    While technically speaking I may fall into your dreaded “Superfan” group — Ive seen Bruce a bunch of times going way back, and I’ll admit I was a little concerned about the setlists being a little samey toward the end of the Europe swing last fall — I’m not one of the complainers.

    For me, Bruce shows have always been about just what you described here. That “cracking” energy level for one thing. And for another, that whole shared communal thing about being in a big room with about 20,000 of your best friends at the best party ever with the best house band on earth. Thats what keeps me coming back night after night, year after year.

    Down to 1 month and counting for Seattle/Portland, and I can’t wait. This great report has me salivating even more. Thanx!


    P.S. I hear Lisa’s okay too…

  • It has been requested by a certain ddouchebag that you please keep the Bruce shilling down to a minimum. Thanks.

  • JC Mosquito

    So Young and in Love – I would’ve paid $$$ to hear them open with that obscure nugget.

    Sounds like a heckuva show, Mark.

  • Loved loved loved the show… I’ve never seen Kitty’s back live and I was thrilled! I really think that was the most unique set list I’ve seen during this tour.

    The only disappointment was how the GA was handled, very haphazard and it got crazy down there with people “saving” places for others and pushing up front. It was a long day being on our feet from 2pm on… but if Bruce can do those high kicks then I can stand for 9 hours!

  • i don’t know if i’ve ever heard Backstreets live. man, that just knocked me out.

  • JC Mosquito

    Saw Bruce only once, but he did Backstreets that night.