Bruce brings the wrecking ball to Giants Stadium
By JOSHUA LIEBERSON
STATIC and FEEDBACK correspondent
To a sports fan from the New York metro area, it had always been hard to imagine the fads that sports complexes go through up until the last few years. We simply had our old places that had been around forever, like Yankee Stadium (1923) and Madison Square Garden (in its fourth edition, but originally built in the late 1800s in a different part of the city), or our places that fell victim to the utilitarian 60s and 70s fads, like Shea Stadium, and the house that the Boss rocked countless times over, Giants Stadium. With all of these places going through replacements or renovations, a new era in sports and concert experiences has quickly approached on the not so distant horizon. So it was fitting that the Bruce Springsteen gave the swamp its final concerts over five nights. I was fortunate enough to land tickets to night three, which promised, at the very least, a cover to cover jam of the album that made Springsteen the biggest thing since, well, sliced Springsteen — Born in the U.S.A.
Upon finding our seats, I made the same observation as the last time I’d entered Giants Stadium eight years prior: this place is huge. I mean really huge. Even with our seats in the 100-levels, the stage seemed like it was miles away, and the people on the stage little ants putting on a show (thank goodness for the video screens, which I used to think ruined the experience).
One-by-one, each member of the legendary E Street Band take the stage until Bruce and Clarence Clemons come on together. They tear right into "Wrecking Ball,"a new song written for and about Giants Stadium. It took no time for the whole place to beckon the end of the era, in an almost angry yet cathartic roar: "bring on your wrecking ball!"
Springsteen then broke into "Out In the Street," which quickly turned into a giant sing-along, giving the 80,000 strong a good vocal and energetic stretch to get things going. After a nice rendition of "Outlaw Pete," Springsteen pulled out all the stops in a mind-blowing "Hungry Heart," featuring everything from pulling up a child to sing the chorus to crowd surfing his way back to stage from about halfway out into the floor section. This was the very definition of the modern day Springsteen — maybe not as angry and driven to rock your socks off as the early to mid ‘70s, but an entertainer who knows how to connect with an audience and make them feel like this is their show.
After the energetic, if obligatory, "Working on a Dream," Springsteen held true on his promise, and delivered Born in the U.S.A. from front to back. While this hour of the show certainly had its high points ("Cover Me,” "Darlington County,” "Glory Days,” and "Dancing in the Dark" were certainly show highlights), the reality of playing this album proved to be very uneven. The initial excitement of the first five songs were breathtaking, even if I expected more of a reaction for the title song. However, once they broke into "Downbound Train" all the way through the start of "Glory Days,” the stadium had the feel of halftime at a Giants game, with people sitting down, or running to the bathroom, getting their next beer, or in some instances, shopping for their dinner in the concourses. My guess is this is due to the lack of flow on Born in the U.S.A., as I felt from the start it would have been more profound to have seen Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ or The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle.
The show really started to kick into epic gear once the band broke into what has become an essential live listening cut, "Born to Run." While I was blown away by this performance in May, this version took it to a whole new level. Watching 80,000 strong live this song for seven minutes is what concert going is all about: the energy, the passion, and the celebration of Springsteen's entire catalog packed into a profound punch that simply can't be fabricated or recreated in any other way. You have to see it to believe it. Perhaps this is why every light in the house was turned on to its brightest possible level.
It was then time for requests, as Springsteen grabbed a nice helping of signs from the audience. I was too far away to imagine handing him one, but if I could, it would have said "Kitty's Back" — I have been obsessed with the song since hearing it on the Hammersmith Odeon 1975 live album. He showed the audience 5 signs asking for "Jersey Girl,” then proceeded to play it to the crowd's delight. Next request: KITTY'S BACK! Sure, I might have been one of maybe a hundred people in this gigantic audience to figuratively lose my bowels at that very moment, as most of my section sat down for the 15-minute journey through all things blues/jazz/E Street, but I soaked it in and just lived it. Following that was another jam, this time delving into Motown and playing a medley of Detroit hits. Then it was a bluegrassy "American Land," complete with a neat little fireworks display.
The show closed out with a full band "Thunder Road," another sing-along that the crowd ate up, and while I was hoping for just one more (clue: "Rosalita"), we still walked out exhausted, and with huge smiles on our faces as we were once again rocked by what Bruce calls the "heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, earth-quaking, nerve-breaking, Viagra-taking, history-making, legendary … E STREET BAND!"
E-mail Joshua Lieberson at email@example.com
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