Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Boss Knocks It Out of the Park, Twice -- Chicago Concert Review: Bruce Springsteen

Concert Review

Bruce Springsteen
& the E Street Band
September 7 and 8, 2012
Wrigley Field, Chicago
@@@@@ (both shows)

Shocking, I know.

I saw my favorite musician performing at my favorite venue--twice--and I loved it.

Not too hard to predict this review, you might be thinking. But that's what makes what Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band did at Wrigley Field on Friday and Saturday nights all the more glorious.

Not that they played 55 songs--including 42 different ones--over the course of 6-1/2 hours (Friday's show ran half-hour longer than Saturday's rain-soaked affair).

Not that they included touches that Bruce acolytes like me would appreciate--"Prove It All Night" with the '78 intro, "The Ties That Bind," a rare "None But The Brave"--and plenty of socially-conscious new songs, along with classics that sounded great in the classic setting--"Hungry Heart," "Born To Run," "Thunder Road," "Jungleland" (Friday) and "Rosalita" (Saturday)."

Not that both shows included stellar guest appearances by alt rock superstars and social crusaders, Tom Morello (of Rage Against The Machine) and Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam), two of my other favorite musicians.

And not even that on Friday I enjoyed the show from an upper deck perch along with three close friends and my sister, while on Saturday I was in the third row on the (sacred) field, off to the side of the stage, allowing me not only to touch the ivy and stand on the bullpen mound before the show, but actually put my hand on the Boss' shoulder as he parted the crowd on the way to & from a riser in the audience. (The moment came at about the 4:02 mark of this video; on a second excursion I caught the photo at right).

No, what made these two shows not only terrific concerts--high among the 41 Springsteen performances I've now seen--but among the greatest experiences of my life was that they, like relatively few things in life, fulfilled my highest hopes...and beyond.

If you didn't already know it, I am a hardcore Springsteen fan, as I have been since the early '80s and especially the first time I saw him and the E Street Band in 1984. Since Bruce reunited with his band in 1999, I have seen--and traveled to--as many shows as I could, and though all came after Springsteen turned 50, I've never been disappointed. Sure, some gigs have been better than others, but in my estimation, there isn't any performer in any genre who is better than Bruce Springsteen is as a concert performer. Still.

Over the years, I've seen Bruce & E Street in some pretty cool places. Madison Square Garden. Giants Stadium (7 times). Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Chicago's United Center and U.S. Cellular Field, among many others. And in April of this year, I went to Detroit to catch a Wrecking Ball tour show at The Palace of Auburn Hills--and it was absolutely phenomenal.

But as a lifelong Cubs fan, who believes Wrigley Field is not only the best ballpark on Earth--and I've been to 38 other major league stadiums--but high among my very favorite places, this was the perfect confluence of performer and place. There is literally no place on Earth I would rather be, ever, than where I was on Friday and Saturday night. 

Excepting perhaps a Cubs World Series game, but of course, that would be at the same place.

And though I've seen some special concerts there since they started allowing them in 2005--The Police, Billy Joel & Elton John, Roger Waters doing the Wall and two outstanding Paul McCartney shows last summer--I've been eagerly anticipating, to say the least, these concerts since they were rumored early this year.

To the point that I almost expected something to prevent them, or me being able to see them. Or that perhaps--though experience told me otherwise--they just wouldn't be as good as I was hoping.

But they were. And then some.

My friend Ken, who is a big music fan that (like me) considers rock to be his religion, had never before seen or fully appreciated Springsteen, so I insisted he go with me and my friends Paolo, Dave and sister Allison on Friday night.

Ken has seen many concerts in his day, and yet, within the first half-hour of the E Street Band taking the stage, turned to me and said, "I've never seen anything like this."

So yes, in large part, this review is unnecessary. If you were at the shows, or have ever seen the Boss with his band, you know--or can imagine--how good these two shows were. (While I'm sure there was much setlist nitpicking on the message board, I thought Bruce mixed things up pretty perfectly, both nights; there is no setlist from this year's tour that stands out as substantially better. See all Bruce setlists on Backstreets or

And if you weren't there, or don't care, this review likely isn't going to convince you. But even if it isn't at the sacred grounds of Wrigley, I strongly suggest you see Bruce Springsteen & the E Street band live in concert any time you still can.

Few, if any, things in life get any better. 

Some video highlights:

Darkness on the Edge of Town (w/ Eddie Vedder), Saturday
The Ghost of Tom Joad (w/ Tom Morello), Friday
Thunder Road & Born to Run, Friday 
Atlantic City (w/ Vedder), Friday
Rosalita, Saturday

Some more photos I took:


Ken said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I went to the show and was bored to death. I was impressed by the length of the performance; but it seemed like never-ending shtick. A multi-millionaire trying hard to convince everyone he's just a regular blue collar guy. His act seemed hardly different than the costumes and persona Kiss use on stage.

The crowd made it worse. Because while I respect Springsteen, the suburban takeover in Wrigley was incredibly annoying. Everyone seemed to be acting like this was their ONE time they actually got out of the house, and as they sipped wine and did awkward white-person-dancing, it made it difficult to even appreciate the performance on stage.