March 20, 2013

Notes from the road: Sydney #2

At the start of the Australian tour Bruce Springsteen crouched at the apron of the stage at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre and shared his philosophy on the magic of rock and roll. “In love, art and music,” he said, “one and one has to make … three”. It’s that intangible element that lurks somewhere in the ether that makes the human heart leap up and pay attention. Tonight, that rock and roll magic arrived like a visitation.

Always prepared to ring the changes, Bruce opened the set with a stark solo acoustic reading of Devils And Dust. Next came the Australian debut of Last To Die from Magic: the latter is an album track that, tonight, was performed with the zeal of a hit single. The Ties That Bind kept the momentum up and then Bruce rolled out a stunning Darkness On The Edge Of Town.

Out In The Street was tonight’s first big sing-a-long. Bruce hit the B-Stage and then decided he preferred to sing on the guardrail as fans steadied the great man’s legs as he belted out the choruses. Bruce dug deep for Does This Bus Stop At 82nd . He was now using the ‘set list’ as a provisional guide. Looking out over the ever-growing sea of signs, Promised Land was next.

“Don’t tempt me…” he said, before finally heading out into the audience to bring back a few more placards to share with the band: then came a trio of classics from the Born In The USA album: Cover Me, No Surrender and a sublime I’m On Fire.

The signs took on various shapes and sizes and are put together with varying degrees of effort. Still, why bring a sign when you can bring a large book and write on multiple pages instead? It was smart thinking from “Karen”: the lady in question had various pages of her book read out by Bruce and earned herself that coveted spot shimmying on stage with the man of the hour during Dancing In The Dark. It was a perfect fan moment.

It’s good to see High Hopes get another airing. Everett shone out front with Bruce as he banged the drum and Tom Morello channeled Hendrix as he played the solo with his teeth!

Australians, in large seated arenas, do generally sit down. This is an anomaly that Bruce is determined to change. His ace in the sleeve is that magnificent slice of road tripping rockabilly, Open All Night. As he predicted, 90 seconds later the room was grooving and every one, who could, stood up and shook their money-maker.

The final furlong, before the encore, saw the tour debut of Lonesome Day, followed by a searing Ghost Of Tom Joad and a full throttle Badlands. The encore took the audience into another zone altogether. Jungleland is a masterpiece and was received as such. Bobby Jean was a knock out and then came that beautiful curve ball that had every diehard fan delirious, the Detroit Medley. Right in front our eyes Bruce brought to life, in that one song, the history of 50’s rock and roll. As the man himself said “one and one has to make three”. Well, tonight it did.

Sean Sennett