On their arrival for soundcheck, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band went straight to the stage. A bare bones “Human Touch” dominated the session, followed up by flashes of “We Take Care Of Our Own” and “Shackled and Drawn.” Watching the check left me with a sense that the band was ready to explore.
“Out to the Races” flowed from Curt Ramm’s trumpet and rang out over the cheers as Bruce and the Band took the stage at the racetrack. They wasted no time, opening with a strong pairing of “Out in the Street” and “Hard to Be a Saint In the City.” Only minutes later Bruce pulled a sign from the audience for “Stand on It” to signal the song’s tour debut. Roy’s rollicking piano solo flowed seamlessly into Eddie Manion’s sax solo, and at the end Max slammed us with his classic drum fills to close out the song. “I’m a Rocker” followed immediately after, and the two songs back to back created a sense of near delirium in the audience. Midway into the show, “Human Touch” exploded out of Bruce’s guitar making the second tour debut of the night.
Through the extensive sequence the E Street Band continued to have fun. During “Born to Run,” Charlie Giordano played keys with his fingers, arms, and knees. A blonde boy vocalist in a black jacket managed to make it all the way up onto Bruce’s shoulders for some fist-pumping to the tune of “Waiting on a Sunny Day.” While busting through walls with pure sound on “Dancing in the Dark” Curt and Barry Danielian offered each other a salute with their trumpets. Moments later Bruce would ‘reluctantly’ accept a red bandana off of the head of a young upstate New York dancer who had scrambled onto the stage for a few steps with Bruce.
Ending with a massive Max Weinberg and Jake Clemons “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” followed by an amazingly fast tempoed “Quarter to Three,” I was left wondering how a band can surprise and overwhelm as much as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band do on a nightly basis. Offstage, Bruce asked himself aloud, “How do we keep doing it?” and without much of a pause, he answered “I don’t know.”
- Charles Landau