Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ 7/31/08

On July 31, Bruce Springsteen closed out his three-night stand at his "homefield," Giants Stadium, under even more special circumstances than usual.  An overturned tanker truck (sounding like a Springsteen song in itself) wreaked havoc on concert traffic.  Not surprisingly, the Boss compensated for his fans’ inconvenience as Springsteen’s management put the word out that the show would be pushed back an hour to 9:30.

Instead of responding to the situation in words, Bruce let the music speak for itself on this night.  He opened with a powerhouse version of “Summertime Blues” that sounded like it came right out of 1978.  After that, the full-throttle versions kept coming, each song segueing out of the last.  “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” led into “Radio Nowhere,” one of only four songs played from the Magic album.  When I last checked in from the tour’s first leg last fall, he was regularly playing twice that amount.  So what did he play, you ask?  Kick-renditions of “Prove It All Night->Two Hearts->The Promised Land.”  It became obvious at this point that this was "Bruce’s show."  His energy surpassed the rest of the band on more than one occasion on this night.  At 58, he showed no signs of slowing down, however, he did find some time throughout to take breathers.  Nils Lofgren’s blazing solos were featured more than in years’ past, while Steve Van Zant lent his on stage character (Bruce’s vocal foil) more than his guitar work.

After "Spirit In The Night," Bruce used the drum intro to "Light Of Day" as an opportunity to collect the request which decorated the signs held by lucky fans in "the pit" in front of the stage.  He held up one for “Incident On 57th Street,” to be played for his "old bald fans," and promised to get to it later.  What he played next was a once-a-tour rendition of Manfred Mann’s “Pretty Flamingo.” Almost as if on a dare, Bruce promised that the band wouldn’t be ready for it and indeed, he had to talk them through the chord changes.  Ragged but fun, this tune was followed by another rarity, Blinded By The Light, conversely covered by Manfred Mann.
                        The following 5-pack of songs was this show’s centerpiece:“Cadillac Ranch->(also by request)Candy’s Room->Night->Because the Night->She’s the One.”  Nils Lofgren, even with a reportedly injured hip, did a flip after his searing solo on Because The Night.
                        Bruce made good on his earlier promise and played the best version of Incident On 57th Street that I have been fortunate enough to hear on this tour.  This sent us into what has become the closing quartet of songs, however, each was played to the hilt.  The encore similarly held no real surprises setlist-wise but featured blazing renditions featuring Clarence Clemons’ (himself pushing 70) saxophone.  Before the closing duo Jersey Girl->Rosalita, Bruce teased the crowd that "you ain’t got it.  I got it."  After 30 songs spanning over 3 hours, he had a right to boast.
                        Clearly, I had no complaints with the show I got, but what kept me from being entirely awestruck was the show I didn’t get.  More specifically, it was the show that someone else will get. Personal favorites like “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” and “Backstreets,” as well as nuggets “For You,” “Lost In The Flood” and “I’m Goin’ Down” (played at the very next show), would have made this show legendary for me.  I found myself jealous of attendees of these upcoming last 2 weeks of shows, where these songs will get trotted out for blazing renditions.  However, and the circulating recordings confirm this, I had already gotten what I came for and what was sitting right under my nose—a great show.

Summertime Blues->Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out->Radio Nowhere-> Prove It All Night->Two Hearts->The Promised Land->Spirit in the Night->Light of Day->Brilliant Disguise, Pretty Flamingo, Blinded by the Light-> Cadillac Ranch->Candy’s Room->Night->Because the Night->She’s the One, Livin’ in the Future, Mary’s Place, Incident on 57th Street, The Rising->Last to Die->Long Walk Home->Badlands

 Jungleland->Born to Run->Bobby Jean->Dancing in the Dark->American Land, Jersey Girl, Rosalita

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