Here at Rokbun we pride ourselves on being devoted to new music. We trawl tiny venues searching for hidden gems and get terribly excited about little known indie bands with barely and EP to their name. Thus it may seem out of place to review a fifty nine year old man playing to a stadium audience of seventy thousand people. Tonight normal rules don’t apply. Tonight is Bruce Springsteen and the amazing E Street Band.
The Boss hasn’t played in Scotland for thirteen years and steps out before a drizzly Hampden . It’s worth the ticket price alone just to feel the hairs stand on end as Nils Lofgren walks on stage playing Flower of Scotland on his accordion. There was also the sight of the ‘biggest Scotsman you ever did see’ saxophonist Clarence Clemons, inexplicably dressed as a priest for the evening. After shouts of ‘Is there anyone alive out there!’ that stir things up to fever pitch, ‘Badlands’ arrives as the first song in a truly enormous set.
As the sound reverberates around Hampden Park we are treated to a band that sound better by the song. Old favourites are interspersed with more obscure numbers and the balance is struck to perfection, allowing for some surprise highlights. ‘Outlaw Pete’, for example, being one of the most recent songs played and one of the best of the night.
Just like at Glastonbury, Springsteen spends ten minutes picking out banners with song titles from the crowd before sifting through them and playing four or five requests. The result is rare outings for tunes like ‘Pink Cadillac’ and ‘Cover Me’ to the backdrop of a delighted audience. Thereafter, and as the skies grow dark, the big hitters emerge and the gig shifts into another gear. ‘Born to Run’, ‘Thunder Road’ and ‘Dancing in the Dark’ are about as good as music can get and with ‘The River’ Springsteen achieves the rare feat of creating a moment of intimacy in such a big horrible venue!
What’s truly glorious about The Boss is that his mere presence is magnetic. I’ve never seen so many people smiling in one place and his every move, gesture and word are greeted with fervour. It might seem clichéd, cheesy and incredibly American to note songs like ‘American Land’, or the fact that the night closed with a cover of ‘Twist and Shout’, but whilst bathing in the communal love for the man on stage none of this mattered. He could have sang the phone book and the reaction would have been every bit as riotous.
Of course it had to end sometime but after twenty eight songs we were still crying out for more. Springsteen’s energy at fifty nine and his visceral love of playing live are staggering. The effort and industry of the man are a joy to behold and the gig feels truly memorable. Three hours, no support and barely a moment to draw breath. The band walk off stage to teh sound of Bruce announcing
‘We’ll be seeing you Scotland’. Don’t leave it so long next time!
Bruce Springsteen played:
Out in the Street
My Lucky Day
She’s the One
Working on the Highway
Working on a Dream
Raise Your Hand (Instrumental Gathering Signs)
Incident on 57th Street
Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
Kingdom of Days
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Twist & Shout
Words: Alastair Mitchell