Here’s a fun fact: Since Bruce Springsteen reassembled the E Street Band in 1999 after a hiatus of more than a decade, the musicians have never gone as long without performing live (six years) as they do. had done last night for the opening of their North American tour in 2023 (February 1) in Tampa, Florida.
At 73, Springsteen could be forgiven for slowing down and/or turning more inward, especially after the multi-year success of his one-man Broadway show and a $500 million windfall from selling his catalog to Sony. . But as he and the E Street Band have shown time and time again for nearly 50 years, there’s something… bigger and more universal when they’re on stage together. Their shows remain celebrations, loaded with American rock classics that endure like generational songs, or almost…standards.
It was all on display on opening night in Florida, without an empty seat at the Amalie Arena despite the high ticket price controversy that cost The Boss some bad press last summer. Tickets were still pretty rich on the secondary market just hours before showtime, most hovering around $1,000, but GA ground access could be had for $399 from Ticketmaster and there were plenty little obvious scalping outside the building.
And then it was time to switch. The older crowd (which included NBA legend Pat Riley and Howard Stern producer Gary “Baba Booey” Dell’Abate) raised their arms in the air from the opener “No Surrender” until moments huge audience participation like “Because the Night” and “Rosalita”. “Springsteen didn’t have much to say between songs, but he didn’t have to — he and the band were cooking by the time they hit the old-school punch of “Candy’s Room” and “Kitty’s Back” seven songs and rarely dropped from there.
Unsurprisingly, Springsteen highlighted material from his pandemic-era albums that had yet to debut live. Six songs have been played from the 2020s letter to you, two of which were particularly touching. A fine solo acoustic performance of “Last Man Standing” had him reflecting on being the only surviving member of his first band, the Castiles, an experience he likened to watching his mortality weigh on him like a freight train. The evening’s final song, “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” wrested hope from sadness, as Springsteen sang in an almost Orbison-y register, “For death is not the end and I will see you in my dreams.” The show was dedicated to her friend Emily Rose Marcus, who passed away yesterday.
Shaking off the rust, the E Street Band rocked and grooved hard throughout the 28-song, two-hour, 42-minute set. Old party band classics such as “The E Street Shuffle”, “Out in the Street”, “She’s the One” and “Badlands” were as lively as a summer night on the Jersey Shore. At the same time, the expanded five-piece horn section added extra swing to encore renditions of warhorses such as “Glory Days” and “Dancing in the Dark.”
There were a few mismatches, including, somewhat surprisingly, “Brilliant Disguise” and a two-song assist from Springsteen’s recent soulful covers album, Only the Strong Survive. The band’s renditions of the Commodores’ “Nightshift” and Ben E. King’s popularized “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)” were adequate but additional, especially when so many other crowd favorites were available to play at. instead of its own catalog.
Ultimately, it was a night that reaffirmed the power of music and community, especially on songs like “The Rising,” the soaring gang vocals on which the arena felt like a church. rock’n’roll. The entire encore was played with the house lights on, beginning with “Born to Run” and culminating in a cheery “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”. During the latter, Springsteen made his way to the back of the general admission section of the floor to give a final salute to the “legendary earth-shaking, love-making E Street Band.”
His last words were concise: “Thank you, Tampa! Safe travels. God bless you” – if only because the music had already spoken it all. Thanks to his amazing work ethic and showmanship, Springsteen is increasingly second to none, making his live shows circa 2023 all the more unmissable.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band setlist for February 1, 2023:
“Prove It All Night”
“Letter for You”
“The promised land”
“Going out into the street”
“Kitty is Back”
“Don’t Play This Song (You Lied)”
“The E Street Mix”
“Last Man Standing”
“House of a Thousand Guitars”
“Because the Night”
“It’s the right one”
“Born to Run”
“Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”
“Dancing in the Dark”
“Tenth Avenue Freeze”
“I will see you in my dreams”
To see our list of the 100 greatest rock stars of all time, click here.
The post Bruce Springsteen Talks Ticket Price Controversy, Trove of Archival Releases appeared first on SPIN.
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