Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Review: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - Mellon Arena Pittsburgh, PA, 5/19

When Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band announced a reunion tour in 2000, I knew I had to go. My sister and I were treated to an amazing show with a solid setlist. I've seen Springsteen only once in the interim, on the Seeger Sessions tour, which was a totally different, yet equally amazing show. I stupidly passed on an opportunity to see the Devils and Dust tour with friends of mine in Minneapolis, and I could never make it to any of the Magic shows. So I was interested in seeing Bruce and the band again, but didn't view it as a necessity until 90 seconds or so into their halftime show at this year's Super Bowl (which as a Pittsburgher, it is my duty to remind you that the Steelers won).

I'll be honest, my interest in big arena/stadium shows has waned drastically over the last five years or so. But shit, it's Bruce Springsteen! And tickets were relatively affordable ($50!).

I know in my heart that rock and roll never starts on time, but I felt it necessary at 7:25 that my sister and I quickly drink our third and final round of Long Islands. And of course, the 7:30 set time meant 8:25. But type-A music fans like me can't take the risk of missing any stage time.

I've been glancing at the setlists on the always informative Backstreets and keeping up with "Outlaw" Pete Icke's Springsteen Tour Tracker to keep up with song debuts.

Leading up to the concert, my sister asked me to make her a Bruce mix (I don't know why, every time I've been in her car for the last 6 months she's listening to E Street Radio). I approached the mix as no hits, though fan favorites were fair game. Anyhow, in compiling it, I was struck that you'd be hard pressed to put together a "bad" Springsteen setlist. That was definitely borne out at tonight's show in Pittsburgh.

While Max Weinberg's son Jason has been playing portions of the set on most dates, such wasn't the case tonight, I'm happy to report. With no disrespect to the young Weinberg, the E Street Band is one of those groups where each member truly has their own unique personality that shines through onstage. Also, I'm a drummer at heart, and it's Mighty Max Weinberg. Patti Scialfa was absent, however.

"Badlands" was an unexpected opener for me, but what a way to kick it off. Pulling out the big guns straight out of the gate! We were then treated to "Candy's Room," which was even more leftfield, but a great old nugget from Darkness on the Edge of Town - the title track of which he also played. I expected "Johnny 99," but it's one of my favorites, and we got a rousing full band rendition. After a cover of The Young Rascals' "Good Lovin'" (which Little Steven would surely call "one of the coolest songs ever recorded" on his radio show ), Bruce collected signs from the audience. After proclaiming "WE'VE NEVER PLAYED THIS NEXT SONG BEFORE!" the band launched into Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone." A very honest rendition, I might add. Other highlights included "The Promised Land," "I'm on Fire," and the always crowd-pleasing "Born to Run."

Kicking off with Pittsburgh native Stephen Foster's "Hard Times," the encore never let up, with "Thunder Road," "Land of Hopes and Dreams" and "American Land" rounding out the set before bringing Joe Grusheky (another Pittsburgh native) on stage for an energetic "Glory Days." After an extended run through of "Mony Mony," I held out hope for a second encore. Alas, the houselights went up quickly. Still, a great show and I'm certainly not disappointed.


1. Badlands
2. Candy's Room
3. Outlaw Pete
4. Jackson Cage
5. She's The One
6. Working On A Dream
7. Seeds
8. Johnny 99
9. Youngstown
10. Good Lovin'
11. Like A Rolling Stone (audience pick)
12. Darkness On The Edge Of Town (audience pick)
13. Waitin' On A Sunny Day
14. The Promised Land
15. I'm On Fire
16. Kingdom Of Days
17. Lonesome Day
18. The Rising
19. Born To Run

20. Hard Times
21. Thunder Road
22. Land Of Hope And Dreams
23. American Land
24. Glory Days (w/Grushecky)
25. Mony Mony

Next up on the concert calendar: Santigold!

1 comment:

Pete said...

Glad you had fun Zack! Thanks for the report...