September 13, 2013

Notes from the road: Santiago, Chile

It all started with “HOLA SANTIAGO!” On a cool winter’s night – yes, it’s still winter south of the Equator – Bruce was on a mission from the start.

The E Street Band had never played in Santiago, Chile before but were nearby over the border in Mendoza during the Amnesty International Tour of 1988. This was a new territory for the band and you could see Bruce really was on a mission when he delivered a 29 song three hour 40 minute show.

A great little 9,000 seat arena that was ripe for the picking and the Chileans got their money’s worth. From the first chords of “We Take Care Of Our Own” followed by “Wrecking Ball”,  the show was ON. A back to back combo of “Badlands” and “Death To My Hometown”  was a great way to get the show really going.

“Spirit in the Night” was alot of fun and, in this small arena,  Bruce overshot the mid-arena stage and yelled out “Jake, I’m Lost! Help me find the stage!” When he finally got to that stage, he figured his best chance to get back to the band was to crowd surf to the main stage. Since this was his first time crowd surfing in South America, it took a couple of tries but he finally made it safely.

“E Street Shuffle” was next  and was  a fun version to be followed by “My City of Ruins’  with the East Street Horn and the East Street Choir showing their stuff. Now it was “Sign Time” and a three pack of “Atlantic City, Johnny 99 and “Cadillac Ranch” which included Bruce “driving” through the  “Santiago night”  which was a great treat.

At that point, the show changed gears with a soulful version of “The River” followed by “Because the Night,” with Nils having a blistering guitar solo, then finally “She’s the One.”

He took us   back to the “Born in the USA”  album with “Darlington County” and “Working on a Highway” which brought the crowd  to their feet. A great version of “Shackled and Drawn”  with stand out vocals from Cindy Mizelle was next. “Waiting for a Sunny Day”  brightened up the mood with a 12 year old girl stealing the spotlight from Bruce. “Land of Hope and Dreams” with a shout out from Bruce as a request which was literally painted on a Chilean flag hanging in the Arena.

Now Bruce spoke at length, in Spanish, about Victor Jara (Google him)  a well known Chilean singer, songwriter and college professor  in Santiago who was tortured and killed during the 1973 coup because of his political beliefs. Bruce then sang Victor’s song “Manifesto” in Spanish which left  the stunned crowd breathless the whole time.

Climbing to the finish with a three-song combo of  “Born In The USA, Born to Run and Dancing in the Dark” was quite effective. In fact, Bruce danced with five girls separately including a Mom-To-Be who  had her sonogram on her sign request,  and one girl who flew 10,000 miles to dance with Bruce! Unfortunately, the final dance was with a guy which, I think, was a first for Bruce.

“Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” was great fun and it was Bruce’s fifth time to the mid-arena Stage. The final combo of “Shout”  for  which Bruce, at one point, had the whole band  literally on their backs during the “get a little lower” part of the song.   “Rosalita” was a great finishing punch.

The final song was a touching version of “This Hard Land.”

My wife and I flew 6,000 miles to see this show and while we may be a little groggy tomorrow  morning,  we couldn’t be happier. It was an amazing show in a great town and our memories will last forever.

I just wish we were going to Buenos Aires.

– George Smith