Concert Review: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Friends Arena, Stockholm, 4 May 2013


Night two is, well, night two, but even I didn’t expect that powerhouse of an opener. “My Love Will Not Let You Down” is always, you know, shots fired, a statement of intent, but to follow it with “Leap of Faith” and “Better Days,” and then yank “I’m A Rocker” out of the crowd on a whim – I needed a break by the time we got to “We Take Care of Our Own” and “Wrecking Ball.” I wasn’t here for the 92/93 tour, I never got to SEE those songs. I was seriously losing my mind and grinning ear to ear and do not even mind that two people in front of me, a couple has chosen “Better Days” as the song to start making out to. Have at it, my friends. Right now I do not care. I am singing every word as loudly and with as much feeling as I can muster while having the out of body experience that I am not in my car pretending that I am seeing “Better Days” live, I AM STANDING IN FRONT OF THE STAGE WHERE IT IS BEING PLAYED RIGHT NOW. HOLY FUCK.

I cannot believe it took him this long to get back to these songs. I cannot believe he does not revisit them more frequently. I do not, will not understand this. (Okay so I don’t understand why he’s dropped most of the Wrecking Ball album either. YOU WANT TO DO ALBUM SHOWS? HOW ABOUT YOU DO YOUR CURRENT ONE. [Postcards please, usual address])

I do not even remember “Death To My Hometown” except that Bruce seems to have calmed down with the Riverdancing (although the E Street Choir make up for that in spades) and then “Hungry Heart,” which was needed at that point to reconnect with the crowd who had been patient but a little lost during the opening run of songs and were immediately confronted with the new ones. Bruce walks along the stage but that’s not enough, he’s going to go out along the edge of the of the crowd, no, wait, that’s not enough either, he walks up the stairs to the edge of the first level and gets a bunch of old Swedish guys with grey hair and beards to sing the chorus into the mic and clearly loves every minute of it. Bruce then grabs a 3/4 full beer from one of them and walks away and back to the stage, downing it in one gulp and telling the guy that he owed him one. But he then buttonholed a security guy and made it very clear that he was sending him over to get that dude another beer. I liked that.

So I will go on record as saying that I really, really did not believe we were going to get another album show, and that I lost a bet by saying that if we were, we were going to get Born In The USA. The crowd seemed very excited at the announcement, and were jumping up and down to “Badlands” instantly. A 20-something woman next to me was totally losing her shit for “Adam” and I can understand why – this was an unbelievably FIERCE “Adam”. The guitar work was insane. This was a Saturday night special Adam Raised A Cain. This was a “fuck you” Adam Raised A Cain. Basically, I was happy for everyone in Friends Arena getting to hear it, because if you were only going to hear it once or maybe twice, this would be the version you would want to hear. The solo went on for what seemed like forever, with zero wasted motion. Max was a drum machine on Candy’s Room. Nils was a whirling dervish both musically and physically on Prove It. Steve gave Bruce an approving smirk after he delivered the “Streets of Fire” solo.

The funniest moment was when we got to “Factory” and the guys next to us said what sure sounded like, “Oh, fuck, I forgot ‘Factory’ is on this record.” in Swedish.

But “Racing In The Street” was the moment tonight, it was everything it is and should be and could be. Even the drunk couple behind us shut up, people were quiet and reverent and paying attention and engaged and not on their phones – except for the ones being held up all around the arena. And I am generally not a fan of this phenomenon and blame Bono for it with regularity, but tonight it was spontaneous and magical, everyone on the floor turning away from the stage to capture the illuminated stadium behind them, people just wanting to be part of what was going on on that stage in any way they could.

It was the best full album “Darkness” I have seen. Better than Philly. Definitely better than Giants. It was glorious. I had to pull out the thesaurus when I was writing the piece for because I was literally running out of superlatives to describe this performance tonight.

And then, you know, he kept it going. We got a glorious, bluesy, swinging “Open All Night” with the horns at their best, front and center. [Link is to video.] They have turned into this organism, this subdivision of E Street, there is a new dance or a new routine or a new bit every couple of shows. There is always something to watch and love. “Radio Nowhere” is such a good song I cannot believe he will neglect the place he finally got to use “is there anybody alive out there?” and that drum break at the end is just insane, you know? I watched it tonight and it is so good and so solid and so powerful I do not understand why this song just got abandoned on the wayside.

I loved the band intros in “7 Nights To Rock” and don’t know if this was deliberate or “Oh, shit, I forgot them last night so I better remember to do them NOW”. And then, houselights, and I am hoping for Rosie but we are back with Born To Run and Dancing In The Dark. And during Dancing, instead of a parade of people onstage (probably because there were quite literally 50 million signs in the pit asking to dance with every single member of the E Street Band, just too many and too big and everywhere – someone even made a shirt of herself onstage with Bruce and held THAT up) he brought up a young boy who could actually play guitar – he formed chords! he knew how to strum! AND HE WAS WEARING ADEQUATE HEARING PROTECTION! It was pretty great to watch.

“Tenth” is back in its abbreviated form, and I am kind of on the fence here, but am not critical because this is yet another stage of mourning or grieving and there are no rules for this and he is still trying to figure out what he is wanting to do, and how to do it. And then it was over, again, this breathless beautiful collection of songs from all over Bruce’s career, and it was kind of insane start to finish, all of it, every moment of it. Even “Sunny Day” tonight – instead of pulling a child onstage, he turned the mic on the arena who sang the hell out of it. It was something that even I could applaud and appreciate.

Next stop: Finland!

My report on
My co-conspirator’s report on last night over at Stay Hard, Stay Hungry