By Nick Harley | email@example.com | @Mick_Marley
Bruce Springsteen is a national treasure. Ever since the man burst into the mainstream with his third and most adored record, Born To Run, Springsteen has represented the plebeian, blue-collar roots of rock music. With his penchant for crafting romantic tales that mirror the plights of the working class man, Springsteen has provided the soundtrack for American living ever since the 1970’s.
On his new album, Wrecking Ball, The Boss proves he’s still plugged into the American struggle by crafting a relevant and relentless attack on America’s corporate greed and showcasing the hardships of those hit hardest by these economically distressing times. The new album packs almost as hard of a punch as Springsteen’s infamous live shows. At the age of 62, Springsteen is still selling out arenas and whipping crowds into frenzies with his bruising three-hour-plus sets. During these shows, The Boss radiates an energy of a man a third of his age and combines his greatest hits with fan favorites and old soul standards, all the while being backed by the incredibly tight and captivating E Street band.
This past Tuesday, I traveled up to my native Cleveland to worship at the feet of the most entertaining man in music. Along with a close to sold out crowd at the Quicken Loans Arena, I was treated to an amazing performance of Springsteen’s new material, along with deep cuts and set staples. Leading the E Street band through a three-hour performance, Springsteen blazed through impassioned sing-alongs, like the athematic “We Take Care of Our Own,” the folk-stomp “Shackled and Drawn” and the Celtic flavored barnburner “Death to My Hometown,” along with five other songs all from Wrecking Ball.
Springsteen’s set had a new swagger to it, with help from the new addition of a horn section. In his first tour since the heartbreaking loss of E Street saxophonist Clarance Clemons, the horn section provides fire that’s missing from Clemons’ absence. Taking over the Big Man’s iconic sax solos is his nephew, Jake Clemons, who throughout the night seemed at ease and full of dynamism while filling enormous shoes. The iconic sax solo in “Born To Run” was just as everyone in the audience had remembered it, note for note.
Springsteen delighted fans with B-side tracks throughout the night, straying from his usual greatest hits repertoire. He slowed things down with the simmering “Racing In the Streets” and had everyone singing along to The Rising track “Waitin’ On a Sunny Day” and “Because The Night,” the powerful Patti Smith tune that Springsteen penned during the Darkness On the Edge of Town sessions and recently released on his outtakes album, The Promise.
The show’s climax and highpoint was final song “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” a funky song that gets Springsteen and Co. grooving and strutting on stage. The emotion of the song finally reached a boiling point when the lyric, “The big man joined the band,” hit, and the song was stopped by a short tribute video to Clemons, in which the whole crowd cheered uproariously through. I, along with the thousands in attendance, left the arena thoroughly entertained, yet jonesing for more.
Whether you’re a Springsteen devotee or not, if you happen to be a fine of live music, I’d highly advise you check out Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band next time they roll through a city near you.