Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band
December 4, 2012
Better than...literally anything else you could have been doing.
When you've had a career as long and as illustrious as Bruce Springsteen, it's hard to top what you've already accomplished, especially on his current tour. At 63 (!!!), The Boss has played some of the best and longest shows of his career, which isn't to be taken lightly. Three-and-a-half hour shows have somehow evolved into being the norm, yet Springsteen doesn't flinch, and judging by his performance at Honda Center last night, he could have easily played another two and no one would have left.
Early arriving fans in the General Admission floor area snaked around the arena, hoping to nab a coveted spot at the front of the two sections for the chance to touch their or at least to present a song request sign that Springsteen would nab as being worthy to include on the set list. It didn't matter whether a fan was a high roller, celebrity or none of the above, everyone is equal at a Springsteen show and that's what makes the experience something that all fans could cherish.
Playing his first area show since 2008, Springsteen wasted no time in setting the tone to what was to be an evening full of highlights. The night started off quickly when de facto E-Street member Tom Morello joined the band for "Land Of Hope And Dreams," and proceeded to lend his axemanship to six other songs, including a thunderous solo on the Springsteen penned, Rage Against The Machine popularized "Ghost of Tom Joad."
If Morello's guest spot wasn't enough to impress the Anaheim faithful, then Mike Ness's cameo definitely had fans jumping out of their seats. Though he tipped us that he'd be attending last night's show in an interview last week, seeing him and Springsteen rock out on Social Distortion's "Bad Luck" was still an incredible highlight and had only been performed in conjunction once before at the New Jersey rocker's 2009 show at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
One of the joys of seeing Springsteen is hearing him share a story about your particular town. During "My City Of Ruins," he did exactly that. Looking back fondly to 1985, Springsteen informed the crowd of an often told story for those who listen to SiriusXM's E Street Radio: He and Steven Van Zandt were denied entrance into "The Happiest Place on Earth." Yes, Mickey and his security guards wouldn't allow them into Disneyland because Van Zandt refused to remove his trademark bandana. Oy. Judging by his smile, he fortunately hasn't held a grudge against the city for a foolish security guards action, and that's what makes him The Boss.
Whenever Springsteen plays a rarity, it raises diehards' collective eyebrows, and last night's set was full of them. Between "Long Time Comin'" off 2005's Devils & Dust, Nebraska's "Reason To Believe," along with the sparsely played "Darlington County" from Born In The USA and "Because The Night," there were few songs that were off limits. By the time the greatest hits portion of the show came around, fans didn't flinch and many (at least in my section) expected the night to never end.
Around this time, the band donned Santa hats that were thrown their way and plowed through a raucous version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" into the emotional finisher of "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," which paid tribute to fallen bandmate Clarence "Big Man" Clemons, the place was as raucous as it was when the Ducks won the Stanley Cup. That says a lot about what Bruce Springsteen and is a tribute to how popular he is at a time when he could have easily called it quits. However, here we are, nearly 40 years into his career, and he's just put out debatably one the best albums of his career in Wrecking Ball.
There are very few people that could command a crowd's attention for that long, let alone turn a concert into a sing-along session, yet Bruce Springsteen did just that. As fans left the arena near midnight, many were hoarse, tired and smiling or in other words, an extra special night at the office for Springsteen & The E Street Band.
Critical Bias: The best three nights in my life are as follows:
1. My wedding
2. Super Bowl XLII
3. Bruce Springsteen at the Honda Center last night
The Crowd: Celebs, high rollers and average Joes all in it together.
Random Notebook Dump: There's something charming about middle-aged women in leather pants, which were plentiful last night.
Set list below:
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Land of Hope and Dreams w/Tom Morello
Adam Raised a Cain
Streets of Fire
We Take Care of Our Own
Death to My Hometown w/Tom Morello
My City of Ruins
Spirit in the Night
The E Street Shuffle
Long Time Comin'
Reason to Believe
This Depression w/Tom Morello
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Bad Luck w/Mike Ness
Because the Night
Shackled and Drawn
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Raise Your Hand
The Ghost of Tom Joad w/Tom Morello
Badlands w/Tom Morello
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out w/Tom Morello