March 31, 2013

Notes from the road: Hanging Rock, Night #2

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band returned to Hanging Rock for one final showdown. Over two and a half weeks the band have performed ten exhilarating concerts along the east coast of Australia. Tonight wasn’t going to be an exception.

With the sun just hanging on, the band hit the stage and tore into an intense reading of Adam Raised A Cain. Candy’s Room was next with Bruce’s guitar, and vocals, positively searing. She’s The One Was a sign request and the re-appearance of Something In The Night capped of a fantastic opening gambit.

While Bruce’s own vocals have been stellar through the entire tour: it’s worth mentioning the superb singing troupe of Curtis King, Cindy Mizelle and Michelle Moore who bring much to the proceedings. Their work on the Wrecking Ball triumvirate of We Take Care Of Own, the Celtic swagger of Death To My Hometown and the title track are particularly strong.

Looking for another sign, Bruce reached for Hungry Heart. There was no crowd surfing tonight: but Bruce did do a lap of the GA area before collapsing at Jake Clemons’ feet as he blasted the final few bars of the tune on sax. Spirit In The Night has become a perfect slice of minor-key gospel. Charlie should take a bow for his organ work, as should Bruce who managed to consume everything from “beer to hard liquor” as he manoeuvred the crowd.

Grabbing another sign, or three, Bruce gave us a “double shot of The Wild And The Innocent” with a sublime E Street Shuffle and the sheer poetry of Incident On 57th Street. Supporting artist Jimmy Barnes, who’d been joined on stage earlier by Cold Chisel guitarist Ian Moss, returned for a duet with Bruce on Tougher Than The Rest. [Jimmy, if you’re reading this, you should record it].

Sister Soozie continues to impress on violin, guitar and vocals, while Nils tore the proverbial roof off with his solo on Because The Night. Next came another request: “This guy’s been following us around for weeks, so I’ve gotta play this song”… it was Jackson Cage. Swapping to an acoustic guitar, Open All Night was next. As Bruce said earlier in the tour, “it’ll take a village of men to replace the Big Man” and the five-piece horn section has swung like a gate all through the Wrecking Ball dates.

Darlington County boasted a tip of the hat to Honky Tonk Women as the band kicked off the opening riff. The song again saw Bruce barnstorming the crowd. Shackled And Drawn is a show stopper and the perfect lead in to the bright and breezy Waiting On a Sunny Day: which was highlighted tonight by a young girl with a lot of pizzazz and the wayward hurling of an acoustic guitar which almost took out Max’s cymbal.

Bruce then juxtaposed the light of Sunny Day with a scorched earth take on Promised Land followed by Lonesome Day, The Rising, The Ghost Of Tom Joad and Badlands.

Bruce took a moment to thank his Australian fans, alongside those of you who have travelled far and wide to see him. The first part of the encore took the night into interstellar overdrive with Born In The USA, Born To Run, Dancing In The Dark and the usual closer, 10th Avenue Freezeout.

Of course, we couldn’t let Bruce leave that easily. Reading the sold crowd just right, Bruce and the band pulled out a sublime Rosalita (Come Out Tonight). Pure magic, it was a testament to the, now augmented, spirit of the foundation of the E Street nation, Messrs Bittan, Weinberg, Tallent and Lofgren.

So, what can a poor boy do except sing for a rock and roll band? The full house didn’t want to leave and neither did Bruce. Up next came a Tex-Mex style sing-a-long version of Twist And Shout. The house was duly brought down.

It’s been a privilege to see these shows as a member of the audience, and an honour to report on them for

With ten stunning gigs behind him: Bruce, you came, you saw and you rocked. Australia, we bore witness to the heart stopping, pants dropping, hard rocking, booty shaking, love making, Viagra taking, history making, legendary E Street Band. Wow, they really were that good.

Sean Sennett