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Bruce Springsteen plays epic show in Philly

Bruce Springsteen had no problem getting the audience involved. Photos: Getty Images

Bruce Springsteen had no problem getting the audience involved. Photo: Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. –

“Go see him in Philly.”

That’s what Bruce Springsteen’s longtime PR rep told me earlier this summer when I expressed a desire to see him play a stadium. I assumed New Jersey would be the primo location, but she convinced me otherwise.

“His Philly shows are always amazing.”

I’m glad I listened.

Sunday night I met my faithful concert partner, my cousin Mike, up north to hit the first of Springsteen’s two nights at Citizens Bank Park (why pass up an opportunity to visit Tony Luke’s, too?).

Many of us – guilty as charged- use the word epic to describe things that might not quite reach that level, but no doubt, this night was the definition of epic.

By the end of a marathon three-hour-40-minute set, Springsteen was soaked from both sweat and water that he doused himself with from a sponge — and probably 10 pounds lighter from when the show began.

It is unbelievable that the guy turns 63 this month. His energy is unflagging (though he did look wiped by the finale of “Twist and Shout”), his obvious joy of performing is contagious and his interest in freshness is commendable.

This is a show that has morphed tremendously since the tour kickoff in Atlanta in March. Yeah, that was one great, for sure. But since this super-sized version of the E Street Band has had time to gel on a jaunt that has already traveled the globe and continues through December, they’re able to mix up the set list like jigsaw puzzle pieces and grab a few fan requests in the process.

Springsteen and his left-hand man, Little Steven.

Springsteen and his left-hand man, Little Steven. Photo: Getty Images

On Sunday, Springsteen greeted the 45,000-plus who packed the home of the Phillies with a smile, open arms and the declaration, “My people!”

His opening quartet of songs – Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues,” “Out in the Street,” “Sherry Darling” and “Hungry Heart” – were designed to set the mood for an end-of-summer “house party” as he called it. Those who were there were thankful to have gotten an invite.

As is the case with any Springsteen show, the set list zigged and zagged with surprises such as “Human Touch” – a recent addition to the tour – and requests fulfilled for “Cadillac Ranch” and Roy Brown’s “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” which Springsteen said the band hadn’t played live in 20 years. While not perfect, its rugged delivery had heart, which was all that mattered at that point.

Given the proximity to his home state, Springsteen also brought out Tom Waits’ “Jersey Girl,” a song that my colleague – and Springsteen fan – Aaron Gould Sheinin remarked was “the best song [Springsteen] never wrote.”

I can’t keep up with the rotating Springsteen set lists like some fanatics out there, but I think this was the first tour appearance for “Jersey” (check the ever-thorough http://www.backstreets.com/setlists.html for confirmation.)

Springsteen wandered into the crowd several times. Photo: Getty Images

Springsteen wandered into the crowd several times. Photo: Getty Images

Springsteen had played nearly three hours before the encore began and was probably running on pure adrenaline through part of it.

The band’s live renditions of “Born to Run” have always been some of my favorite concert experiences, with the houselights up and fans singing and thrusting fists to the anthem. But it was truly spine-tingling in stadium form (I’ve seen Springsteen both solo and with the E Streeters more than a dozen times, but this was my first stadium experience).

The tear-inducing tribute to Clarence Clemons rang loud and long during “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” but it was a tremendous run through “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” that cemented the show’s awesomeness.

Springsteen has been on fire lately, no doubt. But although even his recent stadium shows in Boston didn’t quite hit the 30-song mark, our Philly date produced a 33-song set list.

See. Told ya it was epic.

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By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene

45 comments Add your comment

[...] Bruce Springsteen plays epic show in Philly – blogs.ajc.com   [...]

Ed

September 3rd, 2012
8:44 am

Epic is a word I would use as well. I thought I was back in 1980 or something.

Susan

September 3rd, 2012
8:52 am

Epic IS the word! The best part of the night was that I finally got to enjoy the show with my 18 year old son and he loved it as well. SUCH AN AMAZING NIGHT!

bill

September 3rd, 2012
9:01 am

had a GREAT TIME!!!

JoAnn

September 3rd, 2012
9:06 am

I was there . . . GREAT concert!!!
SO much energy, so much tenderness.
Last night was the highlight of my summer (er, maybe of my whole YEAR!!).
Thanks, Bruce & the E Street Band!!
I’m proud to be a “Jersey Girl” and a fan.

Mona

September 3rd, 2012
9:10 am

Agree. I saw him on night two at Fenway and I am from Boston and, well, Fenway has sentimental value for me and that was incredible! But he always really turns it to overdrive and then some in philly. Maybe getting stuck in traffic on the NJ turnpike wasn’t so bad after all!

[...]   Bruce Springsteen plays epic show in Philly, [...]

Helene

September 3rd, 2012
9:33 am

Hey. Did they play much from the magic or working on a dream CD?

Professor Jack

September 3rd, 2012
9:45 am

it’t the student,blue collar edge that is engrained with every chord and grace note in its I-95 aorta. my people Bruce’s people.

Andy

September 3rd, 2012
9:50 am

My wife and I braved the GA pit wristband lottery ending up about 15 rows back from the stage. To be part of this group of people doubles whatever experience anyone seated at this show could have had. I’ve never seen a Bruce show, or any show for that matter on the same scale as this one. He and his band soared through hit after hit in a never ending barrage of music. The band, especially Max, by the end, looked ready to collapse. We felt the same way after being on our feet (with no bathroom breaks either I may add) for 9 hours. Worth every minute….I’ll be talking about this show forever. Yes, epic.

bob

September 3rd, 2012
10:50 am

my god, what a show. i’ve seen so many shows of his through the years; but this one was amazing. saw the show back in march at the wells fargo center; but this one blew that one out of the water. just a tidbit here; him playing at citizens bank park; completed the sweep. playing every philly venue that exists or existed; amazing. the set list was phenom; and covered everything. human touch was a great add; and hearing jersey girl again; AWESOME. tenth avenue was a bit of a tear jerker; but well well well done. well done bruce. and to all the people that went sunday; the crowd was AWESOME

Joe

September 3rd, 2012
11:23 am

Thanks for the review. I am going tonight to CBP- and yes Tony Luke’s and Bruce- great combination

Northside Dawg

September 3rd, 2012
11:53 am

I saw the ‘81 and ‘84 shows and I can’t believe these shows top those, but this tour sounds pretty impressive.

TheBossTheBest

September 3rd, 2012
12:08 pm

Amazing blown away show. Been to many concerts over the years, my 1st Bruce experience. Never seen a concert from 1 band playing 3:45 non stop music pretty much. All the hits (except Glory Days) and some great surprises. Lot of tender moments> 10th Ave Freezeout to Clarence Clemons, kids on stage dancing & singing, great crowd also (what Philly crowd isn’t passionate * great???) I will remember this concert forever! The Boss is the Best..period.

Lisa campbell

September 3rd, 2012
12:15 pm

It was an EPIC event for sure
Bruce wowed us from start to finish
We would have thought it a great nite
Before the encore but that pushed it over to epic proportions
Absolutely amazing as we were all ready to collapse as we danced the nite away
I also saw the wrecking ball concert back in march and thought it was wonderful but this leaves
me smiling still
What a great way to end summer
Simply the best to have heard Rosalita,sherry darling, born to run and thunder road in one nite!
My Hungary heart is happy today!

Bruce

September 3rd, 2012
12:24 pm

Saw Bruce 32 years ago – the night after John Lennon was shot – Best Concert I ever saw. I have seen Bruce many more times since – in various venues and this was probably the closest I’ve seen to that show. Amazing, Amazing show with so much energy and fun. Thanks Bruce

Northside Dawg

September 3rd, 2012
12:33 pm

Bob Dylan + Pete Townshend = Bruce Springsteen

Jack

September 3rd, 2012
12:47 pm

Tom Waits wrote Jersey Girl, but yes, a great song.

GATA

September 3rd, 2012
12:50 pm

Saw the kick-off show in Atlanta which was my first Springsteen concert. I loved the show and how he just comes out rocking without an opening band or over-the-top technology. His energy level is amazing at 60-plus, and it makes me wonder how amazing his shows must have been in the early years (yay for youtube!). Although I probably diverge from his political views, in my book there is no one else who writes and puts on a show like Bruce.

Sandy

September 3rd, 2012
12:57 pm

EPIC is only of the only words that could describe last night! Anyone who doesn’t believe that “your age is just a number” hasn’t seen Springsteen in concert! Last night he turned a stadium full of “older” people into teenagers again……. and we loved every second of it! Thank you Bruce -and ALL of the E-Street band – for putting so much heart & soul into every song & for a night we’ll never forget.

Kay

September 3rd, 2012
12:58 pm

What an entertainer. This was one of the best I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen all of his visits to Philly since 1984. I saw him when he first started at The Main Point in Bryn Mawr. He was incredible then and even more incredible now. Thanks Bruce for the amazing show, the best yet.

Linda

September 3rd, 2012
2:06 pm

Was at the show last night. I have heard about Philly concerts and decided to make the trek (saw Bruce at the Vote for Change concert in Philly, but am not counting that.) I thought the show was great and probably the longest I have ever seen, but I thought it was a little slow at times. Maybe it was just that I had such high expections or that the fans around me were fairly mellow. There were also quite a few seats empty in the upper rafters. Was disappointed to see that too. To me, the turning point was Waitin on a Sunny Day. From that point on the show rocked. It was definitely the best rendition of Rosalita that I have ever seen. I would say it was a great show, definititely worth the trip, but I am looking forward to the Meadowlands. The greatest shows that I have ever seen have been there, the best being from the Rising Tour. Can’t wait for the 3rd week of September when Bruce comes home to NJ!

Larry

September 3rd, 2012
2:09 pm

I’m an American expatriate and have now seen Springsteen in my new hometown of Vienna (Austria) three times (after several dozen times in the years I lived in NYC in past decades). His concert here in July was also totally amazing: 3 hours, 40 minutes (haven’t checked the playlist yet), and he seemed ready to go for more by the end. He was wild, running into the audience, shaking hands and giving hugs, pulling people up onstage with him. He even spoke some German, and more than just “Hey, how’s Vienna?” The tribute to Clarence had me (and a lot of other people) in tears. An unforgettable show!

Larry

September 3rd, 2012
2:49 pm

P.S. I just looked up the set list, and we had 33 songs, too (24 in the main show plus nine encores).

bob

September 3rd, 2012
3:04 pm

commented earlier today; and yes goin back tonight. after last night’s set list, you wonder, WHAT COULD BE NEXT. should be quite a show; once again. just hope the weather holds off, but its bruce so who really cares.

Larry

September 3rd, 2012
3:12 pm

I promise this is my last comment: I just checked the set lists for Bruce’s concerts immediately before (Prague) and after (London) he played Vienna on 12 July, and they both got less than 30 songs. I think he really likes it here (maybe it’s the food…). He’s played here at the big soccer stadium (capacity of 65,000) three times since I moved here in 2001. Wishing you all another great show tonight!

tony

September 3rd, 2012
3:30 pm

What an amazing show. Being from New Jersey I got a real kick out of the boo’s that followed the line ”where giants play the game’ in wrecking ball. just an awesome night. It was a house part to say the least. Clarence would be proud of the job his nephew is doing.

Steveski

September 3rd, 2012
3:59 pm

You’re right.

I saw 15 Bruce shows from the press box of the Spectrum from 1979-1986. The Meadowlands shows were allegedly the homecoming, but having seen them, I can say they weren’t. Bruce broke out of Philadelphia.

In the early 70’s, when E Street was still a bar band trying to hit the big time, he would come down to 19th and Walnut in Center City and hang at WMMR. When he missed the last bus back to Asbury Park, he’d sleep on the couch in our DJ lounge.

He broke nationally out of our station. When you talk to the biggest, and ask what the ultimate thrill is, it never changes. “Riding in the car and hearing our record on the radio for the first time.”

That’s just one of the reasons he puts so much more into Philadelphia. He was introduced to his girlfriend, Joyce (pre-Julianne Phillips) by another of our DJs, we had given recordings of the Main Point club shows to other stations around the country. (I think 96Rock was one of them.)

The first time I saw an arena sing lyrics to the performer stood while he stood there humbled and amazed was “Thunder Road” in Philadelphia. He had no idea it was coming, It’s a cliche now among bands, and others milk the audience for it.

THERE IS NO ONE WHO PLAYS AN ARENA BETTER. I’ve been to Russia with the Stones, the east coast with Aerosmith, most of the others; but Bruce turns a 20,000 hall into a living room. No one else can do it.

When he’s in Philadelphia, he feels he owes it to the town.

He makes the show about you, not him. And that’s something the other acts forgot a long time ago.

Rock and Roll

September 3rd, 2012
5:10 pm

Seen the Boss evertime he has played Atlanta since that great 1978 show at the Fox! He is always amazing!

Northside Dawg

September 3rd, 2012
5:39 pm

I have the bootleg of that Fox show, but I think his Omni shows in ‘81 and ‘84 were better.

CSP

September 3rd, 2012
6:18 pm

Just bought a ticket for Louisville, 11-03!!!!

noblepap

September 3rd, 2012
8:29 pm

BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE

rob yocum

September 3rd, 2012
8:32 pm

last night was my 40th time with bruce and it was by far better than his early years with a low budget sound system he used to have…his energy is amazing…well done….land of hope and dreams just might be the best thing he ever wrote

Christine

September 3rd, 2012
9:09 pm

I have now seen Bruce about 8 times since 2003 and everytime we go back I crave the rush and rejuvination that he gives to my spirit! Last night gave a feeling of a “once in a lifetime moment”, my body still hurts today from the continuous dancing and singing. My husband and I had 3 friends with us who were attending a Bruce concert for the first time, “it changed thier lives”! hThanks to my husband whom listens to Bruce only our Sundays now consist of an onging concert until days end, our two young girls enjoy it as well. Thanks for being the base of a family tradition!

overdeya

September 3rd, 2012
9:11 pm

for some interesting springsteen reviews, check out http://www.blindedbythesound.com and look for the music reviews. good stuff!!

Jersey Girl – by the inimitable… Tom Waits

Lynn Puddu

September 3rd, 2012
9:53 pm

This is the 10th time seeing Bruce and every show was EXCELLENT!!!I I will never miss any of his shows if he is within 200 miles of me.He is a whirlwind of pure talent.and I have yet to see anyone match him.Love Bruce,
Lynn in Pa

3d

September 3rd, 2012
10:29 pm

Darkness shows at the fox were really good, but born to run at the civic center blew me away.

sat in the very last row in the balcony and will never forget it

my life changed that night

debd

September 4th, 2012
12:32 am

So much fun, a sensational show, fantastic tribute and some mellow as well as hard-rockin’ moments….Rosalita and JerseyGirl were more than amazing! Thanks to Bruce and his band for a night that was a once in a lifetime event. Will remember dancing the night away and a crowd filled with love, acceptance, and reverence for The Boss.

Frank

September 4th, 2012
1:48 am

Seen Bruce all over, but nothing like his shows in philly! They are always worth the trip…these are “his people”.

Jj

September 4th, 2012
9:39 am

I love Bruce. Seen him many times. Still, he hasn’t really put out a great albumn since Born in the USA.
He’s an icon of the northeast centric media (thereby a national treasure, whether true or not). Still, after he plays Thunder Road, Badlands and Atlantic City…I’m ready to go.

zeke

September 4th, 2012
10:19 am

jose

September 4th, 2012
10:48 am

appreciate the review and the comments. Have seen Bruce more than a dozen times and while I haven’t seen him yet on this tour, I have tickets for later this fall. So, my question which is not covered in the review is 1)how is the E street band WITHOUT Clarence? Does his nephew handle the duties? and 2) Is Max subbing out with his son on this tour, like he did last time around?

Rick

September 4th, 2012
11:11 am

One bad mofo…..

mare

September 4th, 2012
1:50 pm

Fablous rocknroll from Bruce almost 4hours of singing and dancing for all!

Melissa Ruggieri

September 4th, 2012
7:36 pm

Hi Jose – this wasn’t really an official review; I just felt compelled to write something since the show was so fantastic. Check the link inside of the Philly story that will bring you to my “official” review of the tour kickoff in Atlanta earlier this year, which answers your questions (though so far Max has played all shows, but Patti is out for now).
Thanks for your comment.
Cheers,
Melissa