April 4, 2023

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played Barclays Center

Bruce Springsteen played Brooklyn's Barclays Center with the legendary E Street Band and delivered a marathon set like only the Boss can.

It's a shame that for so many, this tour from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will be remembered as one of the first to introduce dynamic ticket pricing that was so adamantly defended by his manager while fans forked over upwards of thousands of dollars to see the icon in concert. Defended by the claim that it's a "reasonable price to pay" to see one of the greatest musical acts of all time, the voice of a generation, THE BOSS, is truly a ludicrous statement, especially given Springsteen's long-time devotion to the working class and common people. However, while the prices were absolutely extreme, it was truly one hell of a concert and the legacy of the band proved their worth. Taking the stage around 7:45, Bruce led his all-star band through a three-hour set of undeniable classics that ranged from across his storied career and were brought to life through pure magic. Never taking a moment to breathe, Bruce strutted across the stage non-stop, swing his guitar like a battle axe, and pumping his arms to help to encourage the mighty sing-a-longs which never stopped throughout the night, his showmanship truly unparalleled and for someone in their mid-seventies, it seemed almost inhuman for him to carry a show with the amount of energy he somehow unleashes night after night. Everything was treated with top caliber production and nothing was skimped out on, so even though ticket prices were through the roof, the band really did everything they could to make sure you felt like they earned each and every penny. For the main set, Bruce and the band started things off with "No Surrender" before the recent, yet still classic-sounding, track "Ghosts" which gave the crowd their first shot at the "na na na na" chants that would reverberate throughout the building on several occasions. "Prove It All Night" was a great throwback hit that got the crowd really amped up, but "The Promised Land" was the first real barn-burner of the night which beautifully transitioned into the fantastic run of "Out in the Street," "Candy's Room, and "Kitty's Back" all of which saw the band go to great lengths to showcase just how firmly intact their talents remain. Nils Lofgren, Max Weinberg, and Steven Van Zandt all holding their own with absolute force and power. As fun as it is to watch these legends drop infamous song after infamous song, no one seems to ever be as having as much fun as Bruce and the gang is onstage. Every moment felt like they were playing it as if it could be their last and the smiles on each of their faces was enough to light up the room on their own. The call and response between Bruce and Lil Steven was incredible, just two friends who wouldn't trade their place for anything ripping solo after solo and riff after riff all while giant smirks felt tattooed to their faces. "Johnny 99" was given the full-band treatment that perfectly morphed into "The E Street Shuffle" before Bruce was alone onstage to deliver a crushing version of "Last Man Standing," a track he wrote after all the members of his teenage band passed away and he was left only with the memories that got him hooked on rock and roll. From there, a thundering "Because The Night" kicked-off the back-half of the show that really brought things to new heights. "She's the One" was another joyful number that led into the crowd-pleasing "Wrecking Ball" before an epically powerful "The Rising" brought out the heavy emotional portion of the night. After "Badlands" closed out the main set, the band upped the anti to deliver what would easily be the absolute highlight of the night: a stunning encore that could also be surmised as a live rendition featuring some of the best songs in the Great American Songbook. It was a staggering line-up that somehow made the first portion of the night seem like a basic warm-up, despite it already being a top-notch performance. But truly, nothing could compare or live up to what came next. The soft open of "Thunder Road" was tantalizing and the anticipation began to mount. It was a stellar moment that once again had the crowd chanting back to their icon. Suddenly, the house lights lit up the arena and the band cruised into "Born to Run" and I'm telling you now, you have not lived until you've been in a massive crowd screaming along to a defining anthem. It was one of the greatest performances I've ever seen and it was still only just the start. The lights remained on and the arena transformed into a room of worship as Bruce led us all through a sermon of life-affirming tunes that made everything seem instantly possible. Whatever demons that could've been lurking were instantly exercised the moment Bruce took to the stage and as we hit the three hour mark, it seemed like we really were being saved by someone full of extraordinary power. "Rosalita (Come out Tonight)," "Glory Days," "Dancing in the Dark," "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" an unreal combination of songs that somehow still felt larger than life. "I don't wanna go home" Bruce yelled out at one point. "Steven, do you wanna go home?" he asked. "I don't wanna go home yet!" Steven replied and the crowd roared back in agreement. Their love and fondness for performing in front of their legions of fans has been part of their story for decades and in Brooklyn it felt just as true as ever. One of the greatest musical acts of all time, the voice of a generation, THE BOSS. The facts are indeed true and while I still firmly believe that it's something everyone should be able to experience, it was confirmed for me that there really is nothing quite like seeing Springsteen in concert. It really is an experience of a lifetime. 

Set list:

01 "No Surrender"
02 "Ghosts"
03 "Prove It All Night"
04 "Letter to You"
05 "The Promised Land"
06 "Out in the Street"
07 "Candy's Room"
08 "Kitty's Back"
09 "Nightshift" [Commodores cover]
10 "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City" (tour debut, first performance since 2017)
11 "Johnny 99"
12 "The E Street Shuffle"
13 "Last Man Standing"
14 "Backstreets"
15 "Because the Night" [Patti Smith Group cover]
16 "She's the One"
17 "Wrecking Ball"
18 "The Rising"
19 "Badlands"
20 "Land of Hope and Dreams"
21 "Thunder Road"
22 "Born to Run"
23 "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)"
24 "Glory Days"
25 "Dancing in the Dark"
26 "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out"
27 "I'll See You in My Dreams"

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