A city doesn’t have to be called London or Barcelona to inspire Bruce Springsteen to deliver what could be a show that will be remembered long after the tour is over. Most people outside of Denmark probably never heard of a place named Herning. Even among Danes it’s best known for being in the middle of nowhere. Still, it was central enough to host the second Danish show in three days, the first time Bruce has played more than once in Denmark on the same tour leg.
It was also one of the smallest venues of the tour, holding only around 15,000 attendees. As a result the atmosphere inside was intense and the temperature hot from the get-go.
Although the two Danish shows were at two different venues, the Herning show got the Night Two treatment with a setlist almost unrecognizable compared to Copenhagen.
“Long Walk Home” was a rare and welcome opener, “My Love Will Not Let You Down” got the arena singing and clapping from the first note, while “The Ties that Bind” gave credit to the rumor that had floated beforehand that Bruce was going to do the entire River album. That possibility, however, was quickly quenched, as the show moved into more familiar territory with a triple shot of Wrecking Ball songs. “Death to My Hometown” in particular got the crowd moving with its hard punching folk riff and the band standing shoulder to shoulder at the edge of the stage like a Revolutionary War line of battle.
The small venue allowed the stage setup that’s usually reserved for indoor shows in the United States, with an aisle surrounding the entire pit section, allowing Bruce to do a rare crowd surf at a European show. A perfect landing back on the stage meant that the trust between artist and crowd had been sealed, and from then on the show loosened up and became full of those moments that make diehards keep coming back for more.
While fans climbing up on stage uninvited are not encouraged, even Bruce had to smile when one fan somehow managed to get up there and do a cool dance. Bruce sent him back to the pit kindly but firmly, but that didn’t put a damper on things. The sign request section that followed prompted a logistical problem when a “sign” on a woman’s bare and very pregnant stomach was held up on the shoulders of what was probably her husband. Rather than collecting her along with all the other signs, Bruce had a spotlight pointed at her before granting her wish of “Tougher Than the Rest”.
The request section continued with two songs from Greetings From Asbury Park, including a full-band performance of “For You” and the funky version of “Does This Bus Stop” complete with a drum kit vs. bongos duel between Max Weinberg and Everett Bradley.
A note to guys who bring a sign request for “I Wish I Were Blind”, as someone in the Herning crowd did: be prepared to explain yourself to Bruce as to why you ruined your relationship and got dumped. The guy at the Herning show willingly complied and got his wish played in a stunningly beautiful solo acoustic version with Bruce hitting the high notes perfectly in his best crooner voice.
Back on track with the setlisted “Prove It All Night” with the ‘78 intro, the show went into guitar overdrive. You almost forgot that between Bruce’s piercing intro and Nils Lofgren’s supersonic six-string coda, there is a killer song that would work just fine on its own, but with the guitar work, it becomes something extraordinary.
The guitar attack continued during “Murder Incorporated”, allowing Steve to channel his best Sylvio Dante gangster attitude into his axe. Then it was time for some slightly more danceable music in the shape of a rollicking “Johnny 99” and the swing version of “Open All Night”. At this point the temperature in the arena was at the boiling point, with both Bruce and crowd absolutely drenched in sweat.
That didn’t mean either side let up. The energy remained extraordinarily high during both “Badlands” and “Land of Hope and Dreams”, which concluded the main set.
The first song of the encores is often used for a little breather for both Bruce and audience, but not in Herning. Bruce went straight into a powerful “Born in the USA”, the loud bass notes literally making it feel like your clothes were being blown off.
The heat and the noise were starting to take their toll on the front rows in the pit. During the second verse of “Born to Run”, the crowd had to step in and do the lead vocals while Bruce, with a concerned expression, fetched water for someone in the pit who was on the verge of dehydration.
Most of the fans in the arena, however, were still able and willing to continue. But not Bruce quite yet. The end note of “Born to Run” was dragged out for what seemed like minutes while he frantically combed the stage for a sign he had picked out earlier. That is, until Steve pointed out that the sign was again not the cardboard kind, but was drawn on the forehead of a man in the front row. This time the “sign” was invited up on the stage for display, and while the band shifted into the slow, heavy beat of the requested “Ramrod”, the human sign toured the stage and gave each front line member of the E Street Band a kiss on their cheeks, finally turning to Bruce, who overbearingly offered his own cheek as well. The fan clung on to him a little too long, but not for need of attention, but because at this point tears of joy were streaming down his face.
More fans, this time of the female kind, were pulled on stage for “Dancing in the Dark”, including the now mandatory extra guitarist, and the show concluded with “Tenth Avenue” that once again allowed Bruce to go deep into the crowd and do the final verse from the podium between the pit and the main floor section.
The show didn’t quite hit the three-hour mark, but the crowd was exhausted and Bruce was exhausted, and it was a perfectly fulfilling ending to a 2½ week run of Scandinavian shows. Those who had been to all of them said Herning rivaled the best of them, and many veterans in the crowd were ready to put it in the top three of Springsteen shows on Danish soil.
At the very least, it proved a Springsteen show in an obscure town in a small country can be as good as any show in a world-renowned metropolis.
- Karsten Andersen, GreasyLake.org
When the E Street Band touched down in Copenhagen a couple of nights ago, following arguably their most successful tour of Norway, Sweden, and Finland to date, speculation was massive as to how they could possibly follow up concerts of the scale and power of the three “album shows” in Stockholm.
Walking out on stage, Springsteen greeted the 40,000-strong Copenhagen crowd in their native tongue with a smile indicative of a man raring to go as the E Street Band launched into an especially fresh-sounding “We Take Care of Our Own.” Smiles were rampant in both the band and the audience, who were treated to “Two Hearts,” a reminder that Steve Van Zandt and Springsteen are happily reunited. Sign requests came early: “Loose Ends” elated fans and, somewhat surprisingly, the crowd sang this rarity from Tracks right back to Bruce. A fun “Cadillac Ranch” set the tone for the rocking theme of the evening, evoking singing from the first row to the last, and dancing to match even the best of Nils. “Trapped” was especially strong vocally, as Springsteen worked the crowd from hushed quiet to screams of musical ecstasy.
At the close of “Spirit in the Night,” Bruce took the opportunity to thank Copenhagen and its fans for years of love and support. With that came a big surprise: a smile on his face and a flick of his finger later, Springsteen announced that the E Street Band would play the whole of Born to Run from start to finish. From the signature opening of “Thunder Road” to the E Street-defining sax solo of “Jungleland,” Born to Run was received gratefully and emotionally. As “Jungleland” closed, to the teared-up eyes of thousands, Jake Clemons and Bruce shared a magical moment together.
How to maintain the energy from there? “Pay Me My Money Down” made sure that any concert-goers still in their seats would be up and dancing, as Springsteen led a conga-line around the front of the pit — including two additional members from the audience, adorned with carnival-style decorations. “Badlands” closed the main set, with Springsteen tearing into his guitar and the 40,000 people before him chanting the ’78 classic’s chorus, synonymous with a crowd lusting for more.
The encore began with a passionate arrangement of “Brilliant Disguise,” Bruce singing with conviction. With encore staples like “Born to Run” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” already played mid-set, the band reached deeper into their bag of tricks, pulling out a rollicking “Light of Day” and shaking Parken Stadium with a powerful, four-song stretch of Born in the U.S.A. favorites.
Finally, Springsteen invited birthday boy Jon Landau out onto the stage. To rapturous applause and an especially giddy Bruce, guitar-adorned Landau took the spotlight next to Steve, providing both guitar and backing vocals on “Twist And Shout” as a double-shot of classic covers closed the show, culminating in “Raise Your Hand.”
Before exiting the stage, Bruce took to the microphone one more time: “We’ll be seein’ ya!” As he descended into the darkness with his band and manager, the words of the late, great Clarence Clemons rang true: “This could be the start of something big”.
— Connor Kirkpatrick, Backstreets.com
The E Street Band turned in a picture-perfect, Saturday night big stadium show for their third and final appearance at Friends Arena in Stockholm.
At the conclusion of “Spirit in the Night,” Bruce once again extended his thanks: “This is our last night in Sweden. Sweden’s a very special place to us… thanks for making us a part of your lives, and your culture… we’re very proud to be part of it.” He then announced that tonight the band would be performing the Born in the U.S.A. album in its entirety, completing the set started last week with the full album performances of Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town.
“Cover Me” was highlighted by sharp, incisive soloing from Springsteen and Nils Lofgren as well as a tasteful horn arrangement on the choruses, while “Working on the Highway” featured Bruce dancing Elvis-style on the center platform. Friends Arena was once again aglow with cell phones lighting up from top to bottom during “I’m on Fire.” The entire crowd began waving their hands back and forth in unison at the start to “Bobby Jean,” prompting Bruce and Nils to raise and lower their guitar necks in unison, in rhythm with the crowd.
But perhaps the most classic Born in the U.S.A. moment occurred during an amped-up “Glory Days,” which had an enthusiastic Steve Van Zandt eagerly making his way down to the center platform to join Bruce for the final verse and chorus. “Is the band ready? Are the Swedes ready?” Springsteen asked, before launching into the last chorus with Van Zandt at his side, mugging for the crowd in a picture right out of the video. It was glorious, full-on ’80s-era cheese, live and in person.
After a full-arena sing-along to the end of “My Hometown,” Bruce brought out Max Weinberg, Garry Tallent, Roy Bittan, Steve and Nils to the front of the stage for bows. He then changed guitars and brought the band into a rocking version of “Cadillac Ranch,” which showcased both an energetic guitar solo from Mr. Van Zandt as well as some classic Born in the U.S.A. tour dance moves from Nils and Bruce at the end of the song.
A full “Raise Your Hand” opened the encore, complete with a now-drenched-with-sweat Springsteen on the piano, exhorting the crowd. As the band ended “Born to Run,” Bruce gestured at Steve to join him at the mic. Pointing off into the distance, they said, “Is it? Could it be?” before launching into “Rosalita,” house lights on and the audience jumping up and down from the floor to the upper levels.
The dance party continued through “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” until the audience refused to let the band go, singing the “Badlands” refrain as everyone took their bows. “One more!” Bruce announced to the crowd and to the band. “Twist and Shout” brought as many members of the E Street Band as Bruce could fit onto the center platform (which was more than you think!) before bringing another memorable set of shows to a close here in Sweden.
—Caryn Rose, Backstreets.com