May 12, 2013

Notes from the road: Stockholm Night #3

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,