Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band last night rocked Brisbane in legendary rock arena style. Playing the opening Australian show on his World Wrecking Ball Tour at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, the Boss, with his re-vamped E Street Band hit the stage running. They entertained the capacity crowd with an energetic performance extending to three plus hours. We watched the Boss strut, gyrate, crowd-surf and repeatedly leave the stage to join the mosh pit. Those lucky fans experienced a decent close-up and many took the opportunity to hand-slap or hug this rock legend. The Boss gave everything in this energetic performance – hard to believe he is 63.
For this tour, 13 talented musicians make up the E street band, including legendary guitarist Nils Lofgren and Soozie Tyrell (violin and guitar.) In Patti’s absence, Soozie and her flowing blonde hair, rocked the femme fatale role. Tom Morello (Against the Machine) filled Steve Van Zandt’s “big” shoes, (playing in Norway according to the Boss.) A classy five piece brass section included the engaging 37 year old, Jake Clemons on baritone saxophone. The late and undeanibly great Clarence Clemons would be proud of his nephew’s sax talent, especially his mind-blowing moments in Badlands. Jake shared another skill with the Brisbane audience – a mean worm dance.
Bruce added a local touch, second song into the set, playing a very cool version of the iconic song Just like Fire Would, by Aussie Band The Saints. Death to my Hometown, another of Bruce’s protest songs from the Wrecking Ball album, channeled the strong Irish influence of his New Jersey roots – a real toe tapper. With Charles Giordano playing a mean accordion, it was hard to not get up and dance an Aussie version of the Irish jig.
Bruce held off talking to the crowd between songs until the sixth track. “To get to Australia we had to cross over 1000’s of miles of shark infested waters to answer just one question: Can we feel the spirit?” Bruce chants.
Following the crowd surfing episode, where he felt the need to adjust himself (ever the showman), Bruce knew Brisbane was a bold audience, after something more. A stunning version of Because the Night, a song co-written with and made famous by Patti Smith gave the crowd more. Shackled and Drawn with Cindy Mizelle’s gospel like vocals, transported the crowd to America’s deep south.
In part of his speech in February this year, accepting an award for MusiCares 2013 Person of the year, Bruce said,
“When we play we want you to feel the hair stand up on your arms and we want you to be glad of being alive.”
The Boondal crowd will often leave after the performer’s last song, before the encore to escape early and attempt to beat the car-park leaving blues – but not with the Boss. Last night his audience wanted no end to this three hour rock music spectacle. Very glad to be alive and witness this spectacle.
It has been ten (long) years since Bruce last toured Australia. I hope his spirit for Australia and our audiences has been re-ignited and Bruce with his E Street Band continues travelling the long distance to return to our far away shores. That resolutely set jaw, craggy distinct voice and white-man swagger will always entertain. At 63 he is still the Boss – a musical Legend.