In this day and age, where the format of music is continually changing, providing less attention to the standard album format and putting more focus on the interchangeable single concept. The idea of putting out a new album and touring behind it is really left to a select few who can really perform. At the top of this list of well-oiled, live machines is Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. On Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, the gang from Asbury Park took to the stage in support of Springsteen’s latest release, Magic.
The show opened with the high octane of Magic’s first single, "Radio Nowhere." The new material transcended to the stage very well, as rollicking numbers like "Gypsy Biker" brought the crowd to their feet, arms thrust high into the air. Also featured in the set was the title track from 2002’s The Rising, as well as "American Land" from We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. Far from ignored was Springsteen’s back catalog. In addition to monster anthems like "Born to Run" and "Dancing in the Dark," the crowd was treated to a little something from almost all of his albums. "Reason to Believe" from the Nebraska was given the Ronnie Hawkins treatment, as Bruce wailed into a harmonica while Max Weinberg shuffled along on the snare drum. While the set did not feature anything from his first two releases, Springsteen introduced the rare cut, "Thundercrack," as the song the E Street Band would close their sets with when playing Max’s Kansas City so very long ago. Song after song – "The Promised Land," "Adam Raised a Cain," "She’s the One," "Backstreets," etc. – Springsteen and Co. delivered.
The ten-piece E Street Band is indeed a cast of characters, each one personally defined and worthy of their own charms. Guitarist Steven Van Zandt and saxophonist Clarence Clemons are Springsteen foils that hold it down from the wings while The Boss works his own magic over the crowd. From front to back, Springsteen hand-delivers a little piece of himself to every single person in the house. He lets you know that he knows you’re there, and he appreciates it immensely. Springsteen’s true gift is how he is able to
speak his mind without condescension, without judgment of his fellow man, and with a true message of hope. It is reasons like these that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band remains timeless after all these years.