Setlists: 2007

December 19 / London, UK / The O2 Arena
Notes:
"This is a really big building," Springsteen said of the new O2 complex, its luxury-boxed surrounded by shops and restaurants, all underneath an enormous fabric dome. "That's okay -- we're the big building killers." He added, "Also known as dead ass killers, for those of you still in your seats!" And if killing is their business, then business was good -- especially with the "Because the Night" sandwich in the main set, that song featuring amazing guitar work from Nils once again. "Waitin' on a Sunny Day," loved by the crowd, also helped enliven some asses and bring the arena down to size.

Nearly the same setlist as Paris, only with "The River" replaced by two songs back-to-back, "Working on the Highway" and "Racing in the Street." This was only the second "Racing" of the tour, after its debut in Oakland nearly two months ago, and it was an audible, played by request: "You've been following us around for two months with that one sign," Bruce nodded to a guy in the crowd, "So we're gonna get that one for you." The rarity was an especially welcome moment for those who have been seeing these shows night after night, too. Here at this last E Street Band show of the leg and of 2007, Bruce sent them a special shout-out in the encore, "I'd like to thank all the fans that followed us across Europe."

In the encore, Clarence -- introduced tonight as "the next King of England!" -- did a royally good job on "Jungleland." (Last time "Racing" and "Jungleland" were played in the same show was 23 years ago, 12/13/84 in Memphis.) For the 25th and final song, Bruce asked, "Do you believe in Santy Claus?" He encouraged the lobbing of hats onstage, and as the band was haberdashed for the last time this year, a little girl had some special headgear just for Steve: bobblehead Santa earmuffs. Steve hemmed and hawed, but he couldn't say no. Surely a classic photo in the making (anyone?). "Happy holidays from the E Street Band," Bruce called, wrapping up the 2007 Magic tour, and "We'll see you in the summer!"

Which brings us to a TICKET ALERT: A second 2008 London show at Emirates Stadium, just announced for May 31, goes on sale tomorrow morning, December 20, at 10 a.m.!
-Photograph by Harry Scott

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Night
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Working on the Highway
Racing in the Street
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Jungleland
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

December 17 / Paris, FRA / Palais Omnisports De Bercy
Notes:
With the setlists all but static here at the end of the European leg, we've first got to acknowledge some frustration among repeat attendees, the Loneliness of the Long-Distance Tour Follower. A "real ballbuster" says one of tonight's show, the penultimate night of the '07 tour, being virtually identical to the last three -- while of course granting it's a great show for anyone who's not catching multiple nights. ("You do it to yourself," as Radiohead says.)

Differentiating the Paris set from Belfast was a shake-up of the standard opening trio (adding both "Night" and "No Surrender" in between "Radio Nowhere" and "Lonesome Day") and most remarkably, a killer "Jungleland" in the encore. Clarence was perfect, Bruce sounded great, and "it hasn't sounded that good since '78" was a reasonable reaction. Bruce sent "Jungleland" out "for Leonardo, and for Paris." It wouldn't be Paris without Elliott Murphy, and a couple songs later Bruce's old friend and regular guest was onstage for "Dancing in the Dark."

For the closing "Santa Claus" -- "Croyez vous au Pere Noel?" -- enough Santa caps were hurled onstage that Springsteen was able to go around and make sure everyone in the band got one. The Boss himself got a custom model -- when Kevin Buell came out with the guitar for the song, he also brought the red cowboy hat from Belfast, which Bruce clearly took a shine to. And with the entire band decked out, tonight demonstrated what we've said before: no one wears a Santa hat like Bruce. Not even Steve, though the headscarf/hat combo is a unique touch. "Joyeux Noel from the E Street Band!"

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Night
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The River
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Jungleland
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark (w/ Elliott Murphy)
American Land
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

December 15 / Belfast, IRE / Odyssey Arena
Notes:
Springsteen played here a year ago with the Sessions Band, but this is the E Street Band's first show in Belfast. A strangely static setlist for this late in the leg, with just one change from the previous show in Cologne: "No Surrender" was in for "The Ties That Bind." But a looser Bruce -- much as he connected with crowds around the continent and made an always-appreciated effort to speak the local language, you could feel him relax a bit here to be back in English-speaking territory. And a little amusement ride surely didn't hurt his mood, either. "I like the new Ferris wheel!" he said before "Magic," referring to the Belfast Wheel at City Hall, just opened in October. "A town with a Ferris wheel -- that's a good thing."

Before a lovely "The River," Springsteen mentioned that his brother-in-law was in the crowd, the "inspiration" for the song (along with Bruce's sister, of course). And just in case anyone needed the dots connected between "The River" and "I'll Work for Your Love," a wedding party was also in the house, apparently having come straight from the nuptials. When Bruce called out "Are there any lovers here tonight?" as usual, he was quickly directed to them -- the bride still in her gown, the groom still in his tuxedo. "Did you get married today?" Bruce asked, and dedicated the song to them. Performance high points were the "Reason to Believe"/"Because the Night"/"She's the One" trifecta, "Kitty's Back," and "Santa Claus," which featured some impressive headgear. Someone threw onstage a red felt cowboy hat with white fur trim and a white band that read "Merry Christmas." And once again, Bruce managed to make it look good.
-Photograph by Harry Scott

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The River
I'll Work for Your Love
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Kitty's Back
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

December 13 / Cologne, GER / Koln Arena
Notes:
A smoking show, both literally and figuratively -- the Koln Arena must be one of the last such venues where lighting up is still permitted, and when the lights came up they revealed quite a cloud overhead. A surprisingly simlar set to the previous night, considering it's just a couple hours' drive. But the enthisiastic Cologne crowd, on their feet all night, set this one apart -- and who can complain about "Because the Night" two nights in a row? "The Promised Land" had that newly added "People Get Ready" gospel coda again, too. "Kitty's Back" was absolutely smoking, particularly Roy's solo -- a killer, jazzy improvisation, which Bruce echoed as he followed it with an extended solo of his own.

The end of "American Land" brought a patented James Brown routine, as Bruce fell over backward, "exhausted," still on the floor as the band went into a bonus "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town." Nils and Steven helped him up to sing, and a special guest joined in, too. "Wolfgang, do you believe in Santa Claus?" Bruce cried to Wolfgang Niedecken -- like Joe Grushecky in Pittsburgh, you can pretty much bank on Niedecken joining in when Bruce comes to Deutschland. The German rocker didn't really seem to know the song, rarely stepping to the mic, but all eyes were on Bruce anyway, especially once he put that Santa hat on. How does he manage to make that thing look good? Tilting it at a rakish angle, twirling the pom-pom around like a helicopter... no one wears a Santa hat like Bruce. Hey, the guy's a professional.

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
The Ties That Bind
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The River
I'll Work for Your Love
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Kitty's Back
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

December 12 / Antwerp, BEL / Sports Paleis
Notes:
It was singalong night in Antwerp, at Bruce's urging -- he seemed to figure that was the best way to keep the audience into the show. The musical high point came early on, with the tour premiere of a stupendous "Because the Night" (which belonged to Nils, thanks to his monster solo), transitioning seamlessly into "She's the One." On the latter, perhaps inspired by Nils' stunning performance, Bruce added some cool guitar flourishes of his own to the beginning. But what really got the crowd up was "Waitin' on a Sunny Day," the song's first performance since Philly, and Bruce kept that ball rolling with the singalong-friendly "The River" and "Working on the Highway." Soon he was asking them to join in on "Long Walk Home," and he added a bonus audible in the encore, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out," complete with the I-ain't-gonna-play-it-until-you're-loud-enough extended intro.

Springsteen spoke Flemish and French, both official languages of Belgium. "The Promised Land," which has had a gospel-style outro on this leg, tonight went into a full-blown "People Get Ready" coda, with Soozie, Nils, Steve, and Clarence all joining in on vocals. The Big Man, or "Mr. Soul Santa Claus," as Bruce called him, added some particularly hearty ho-ho-hos to "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" -- said the Boss, "Don't tire yourself out, Santa!"

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The River
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
Born to Run
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

December 10 / Stockholm, SWE / Globe Arena
Notes:
While everyone had a great show tonight, and Steve was very into it, clowning around even more than usual, there was no denying this was the Big Man's night. With "She's the One," the crowd began bowing "we're not worthy!"-style during Clarence's solo, and they kept it up for his turn in "Working on the Highway" and onward. By "Dancing in the Dark," Bruce and Steve were doing it too! "Dancing" also featured Clarence's son Christopher on acoustic, and during the band intros Bruce proclaimed Clarence "The Godfather of Swedish Soul!"

"The River" came out for the second show in a row -- as in Copenhagen, this was a tight, album-style version of the song, as opposed to the drawn-out version of tours previous. It's a spare rendition, too, with no electric guitar: Bruce on just harp and vocals, Steve on acoustic, and Nils on pedal steel. Oh -- and plus the vocal stylings of about 15,000 fans.

Yes, a tremendous Swedish audience as we've come to expect, with great energy -- everyone into the show, singing along in all the right places. And not in the wrong ones -- when Bruce went to shush the crowd as usual before "Reason to Believe," they went pin-drop silent before he even finished his request. And you better believe Bruce took notice, saying in the encore, "It's an incredible audience out there tonight," and granting an enormous banner's request of "Jungleland," dedicating it to the crowd. "Jungeland" was played in place of the setlisted "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town"... but a few songs later, Bruce decided to keep the show going after "American Land" for the first time, adding "Santa" to cap the show as a bonus track (the way it should be, we think), with a merry "God jul from the E Street Band!"
-Concert photograph by Riku Olkkonen;
banner photo by Lars Flugsrud

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Candy's Room
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
I'll Work For Your Love
The River
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Jungleland
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark (with Christopher Clemons)
American Land
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

December 8 / Copenhagen, DEN / Forum Copenhagen
Notes: The Danes were an energetic crowd, and the venue setup didn't hurt the vibe -- the smallest of this European leg, holding only 10,000, and dominated by a large floor with very few seats at all. Introducing "Livin' in the Future," Bruce said that the band had decided that Europeans should be allowed to vote in the next U.S. election, "Because it's everybody's ass!" "Darkness" got a big response, but not compared to the elation in the crowd at the tour premiere of "The River." Rob Smith tells us: "I've never heard a wilder response to a Springsteen song. It seemed like everyone in the whole joint was belting out every word from start to finish." That went right into "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out," the song's first main-set appearance on this tour, which sustained the peak. No visit from "Santa Claus" tonight, despite its place on the handwritten setlist and a Santa hat thrown onstage -- instead, Bruce called an audible after "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," ripping right into "Kitty's Back." Which was far from coal in the stocking.
-Photograph by Riku Olkkonen

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Darkness on the Edge of Town
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
I'll Work for Your Love
The River
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Kitty's Back
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

December 4 / Oslo, NOR / Oslo Spektrum
Notes:
"Cadillac Ranch," not played since October, was an audible, played by request in place of the setlisted "Backstreets." Also in the set were "Jackson Cage" and "Tunnel of Love" (with Soozie still filling in for Patti). And Norwegians had "Santa Claus" to keep them warm, as some went straight from the show to queue up for tickets to next year's Oslo show, on sale in the morning.

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Jackson Cage
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Working on the Highway
Tunnel of Love
Cadillac Ranch
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

December 2 / Mannheim, GER / Sap Arena
Notes:
After Friday's postponement, Springsteen made it through back-to-back shows -- Saturday's make-up show in Arnhem and tonight in Mannheim -- with hardly a sniffle. "Bruce was amazing as always, despite getting over a bad cold," Daniele Clark tells us. "Full of energy as usual," another showgoer says, "one hell of an E Street blast." The European setlists have remained relatively static so far, without the tour premieres that marked so many of the U.S. shows; maybe that's to give Charlie Giordano a chance to get up to speed, or to present a set to Europe that worked so well in the states, or maybe both. But it's worth noting that on these two nights Bruce has moved the "Darlington"/"Working on the Highway" slot to just after the nightly "Promised Land," a shift that makes for a less jarring transisition into "Devil's Arcade" a few songs later. Good to see him keep tinkering. With Patti Scialfa still absent from the European leg, Bruce dedicated "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" to the "Maedchens of Deutschland and two girls from Jersey!" And for the next song, "Santa Claus" -- the one new addition on this leg so far, premiering the night before in the Netherlands -- came to Deutschland, too.
-Photograph by Riku Olkkonen

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Jackson Cage
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Working on the Highway
Tunnel of Love
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

December 1 / Arnhem, NED / Gelredome
Notes:
The Netherlands concert was postponed to give Bruce a little extra time to recover from a severe cold. Just a 24-hour delay, but that made this a December show instead of a November show -- so all of a sudden, it's holiday time! In fact, the Dutch holiday of Saint Nicholas' Eve is mere days away. "Someone told me... is it Sinterklaas?" Bruce asked, "Sinterklaas? December 5? Okay, in honor of the Netherlands...." And with that, out came the first "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" of the year.

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Candy's Room
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Darlington County
Tunnel of Love
Night
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

November 28 / Milan, ITA / Datchforum
Notes:
A fantastico setlist for the Italians, with the first "Adam Raised a Cain" since Oakland, "Incident on 57th Street" following "I'll Work For Your Love," and a handful of audibles shaking up the plan. Bruce decides to forego "Working"/"Darlington" altogether, having "Incident" go right into "The E Street Shuffle" instead. In the encore, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" replaces the setlisted "Growin' Up," and "Thunder Road" is played in place of "Kitty's Back."

And then there was the crowd:


-video from SpringsteenMilano1985-2003

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
The Ties That Bind
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Adam Raised a Cain
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
I'll Work For Your Love
Incident on 57th Street
The E Street Shuffle
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

November 26 / Bilbao, ESP / Bilbao Exhibition Centre
Notes:
Madrid and Bilbao may be 400 kilometers are apart, but Bruce still gave these two Spanish cities the Night A/Night B treatment, in terms of setlists. For this second night of the European leg, Bilbao got six songs not played the night before. In the main set, "Night," "Jackson Cage," "Backstreets" ("Incident" was an alternate on the setlist), and "Darlington County." In the six-song encore, "Tenth Avene Freeze-out" made its second tour appearance, after its debut on the final night in Boston; it went right into "Kitty's Back" ("Born to Run" was not between them, as originally reported).

Our friend Salvador Trepat from Point Blank tells us: "This was the best show I've seen since 1981. Period. Think of Philly #2 this year, and double it. Unreal energy, performance, and atmosphere. Bruce was on fire. Forget Barcelona 2002, which was great -- this was perfection from beginning to end, with some of those moments that we wait for. "Tenth" into "Kitty's" (which they absolutely nailed) was one of them. I'm sure no tape or video will be able to capture that, you had to be there. 100% agreement among fans when leaving the place. Everyone was in absolute ecstasy." I think he liked it!

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
Night
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Jackson Cage
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
I'll Work For Your Love
Backstreets
Darlington County
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Kitty's Back
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

November 25 / Madrid, ESP / Palacio De Deportes
Notes:
Early arrivals to the European opener in Madrid caught Charlie Giordano practicing before the show, getting ready for his E Street Band debut. Despite that pre-show entertainment, it was a restless crowd that had to wait until 9:50 for the concert to start -- they kept themselves occupied by doing the wave and chanting "Bruce! Bruce! Bruce!" Springsteen himself appeared to be suffering from a cold, but he fed off the energy of the wild audience, which sang and shouted along from the beginning. Ross Miller describes the scene: "There were 200 pit bands issued, but no lottery; instead, just the mad dash of old, and a check for wristbands at the pit gate. By the mid-point of the show there must have been 600 crazies in there. As is typical for Spain and Italy, far more respect, sobriety, sense of community and love than on Bruce's U.S. home turf, reminiscent of the passion that used to be a part of the pre-1984 North American fan behavior. Exactly why Europe is the essential Bruce experience." "Darkness" was a standout, and "Thunder Road" was played by request -- a request that was echoed by 20,000 people calling for it, too. "Okay, okay, we got it!" said Bruce. A strong showing from Clarence, and Dan Federici wasn't the only bandmember missing -- Patti Scialfa was absent, too. Surprisingly, they kept "Tunnel of Love" in the set anyway, with Soozie Tyrell stepping up. And as for Giordano, Miller tells us, "There were points where he was clearly in awe. To paraphrase the old Oldsmobile ad: this isn't your father's Seeger Sessions show."
-Photograph by Enric Nonell / fotofotos.com

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Candy's Room
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
I'll Work For Your Love
Tunnel of Love
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

November 19 / Boston, MA / TD Banknorth Garden
Notes:
Amid rumors that Danny Federici's health would prevent him from making the trip to Europe next week, Bruce and the E Street Band closed out their North American leg with a stunner of a show in Boston. And while we believe strongly in respecting his privacy, we simply can't talk about this night without talking about Danny. His talent, the band's love for the man, the crowd's love for the man -- all were there for all to see. This show was all about Dan Federici. The setlist (and oh, what a setlist) was clearly crafted with him in mind. There were the two tour premieres -- "This Hard Land" giving Danny a stretched-out solo spot, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" recalling the formation of the E Street Band, of which Danny was of course a founding member (easy to forget that only he, Clarence, and Garry go all the way back). And then the three songs from those Wild & Innocent early days -- reprising the "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)"/"E Street Shuffle" two-fer from Albany, and adding "Kitty's Back" for good measure -- all of which gave Danny chances to shine.

Federici's "Kitty" solo, at Bruce's urging, went on and on. "Sandy," too, was a spotlight moment, with Danny strapping on the accordion; bringing him front and center, Bruce called out, "Ladies and Gentlemen, winner of the Ted Mack Amateur Hour!" Tossed-off ad lib that it was, that remains a significant moment to me as I think back on the show today. It was a night of good humor. It was a night of musicianship, of history, of shared history, and of the joy of making music together in the present moment. It wasn't a maudlin night. There was no overt reference to any leave of absence, certainly no mention of any health issues. What do you do in the face of those things instead? You get up there and play. And they played their hearts out. "Darkness" was ablaze. The whacked-out funk coda of "E Street Shuffle" was a killer, with Max going nuts on the drums. "The Rising" was more determined than I've heard it since '03. "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" was a blast, and wicked tight, even with a way-loose Peter Wolf up there shakin' it with Patti.

And what else do you do? If you're Nils, you spend as much time as you can up on the organ riser, playing shoulder-to-shoulder. If you're Bruce, you head over to Danny during the bows at show's end and throw your arm around him, with a look on your face that says "godammit, I know we said we weren't going to talk about this tonight, but you can't stop me from doing this," and you bring him to the center of the pack, and he takes a bow of his own. And if you're the crowd, you chant "Danny! Danny! Danny!" It was as spontaneous as the "E Street Band" chant at Madison Square Garden on July 1, 2000 -- with fewer dry eyes, I imagine, both onstage and off.
-Photograph by A.M. Saddler

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
Night
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Candy's Room
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
This Hard Land
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
The E Street Shuffle
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Kitty's Back
Born to Run
American Land

November 18 / Boston, MA / TD Banknorth Garden
Notes:
The first night in Boston, "Home of the World Champion..." Bruce began, putting on a dejected face as the crowd went nuts for the Sox, "ah, you know the rest." That was his only sullen moment of the night -- it was a high-energy show start to finish, with a typically great Beantown crowd to match.
"She's the One" was especially intense, Bruce channeling his energy at the end into a high toss of his guitar to tech Kevin -- right over Garry's head. Good thing Kevin's got hands, and good thing Garry's not a couple inches taller. A special moment came a few songs later, before "I'll Work For Your Love": "I'm kind of like a captain of a ship," said Bruce, "We've got a little proposal going on!" At the front of the pit was a guy with a sign that read "We met 15 years ago, I'm proposing tonight!" The lucky lady was held aloft during the song as Bruce blessed their union. "Alright, kids, remember... you gotta work, work!" (And to stress that point, he went into "Tunnel of Love" next.) He also added, "Next time try a candlelight dinner, bottle of wine, the usual." Clarence was spot-on all night, especially on... wait for it... yep, "Jungleland," in the encore. The Big Man nailed his spotlight moment. The only real curveball in the set, "Jungleland" went out to Bruce's friend Bob Coles, as well as a whole host of "mamas" in the crowd, including Max's mom and George Travis's too, who's 93! Also in the house, hometown fave -- and frequent Springsteen guest, though not tonight -- Peter Wolf. Maybe tomorrow?

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Jackson Cage
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
I'll Work For Your Love
Tunnel of Love
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Jungleland
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

November 15 / Albany, NY / Times Union Center
Notes: A stunner of a setlist, and a start-to-finish smoking performance to match. First of all, the "Reason to Believe"/"She's the One" sandwich was a double-decker, with both "Darkness on the Edge of Town" and "Candy's Room" in the middle -- cool on paper, and incredibly powerful in performance. But it wasn't the jaw-dropper of the set. For that, we direct your attention forward a few songs, to what Bruce called a "double shot from Wild & Innocent!" It was a passionate "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" into "The E Street Shuffle," both rarities in their own right, and back-to-back like this we're talking hen's teeth. This was a crowd that appreciated what they were getting, too. For "Sandy," it was spotlight on Danny Federici, literally -- Phantom Dan was bathed in light as he stepped out from behind the organ for some beautiful accordion playing. The last E Street Band performance of "Sandy" was at Giants Stadium in 2003, but for "E Street Shuffle," you've got to go back to the end of the reunion tour, July 1, 2000.

In the encore, Springsteen dedicated "Thunder Road" to Matty Delia, "one of my best friends in the whole world," on his 53rd birthday. And after the spirited crowd held their own, singing out the beginning of the song up to "that's alright with me," Bruce stepped back to the mic and said, "Me too!" No Patti tonight, but we hear she'll be back for Boston.
-Photographs by A.M. Saddler

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Candy's Room
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
I'll Work For Your Love
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
E Street Shuffle
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

November 14 / Pittsburgh, PA / Mellon Arena
Notes: "Patti's not here tonight," Springsteen told the Pittsburgh crowd after "The Promised Land," "but we've got a special guest: Joe Grushecky, the man who singlehandedly brought sexy back to Pittsburgh." You mean that wasn't Justin Timberlake? Yes, a couple weeks after Light of Day 8 came and went without the traditional Springsteen appearance, the two singer/songwriters reunited in Grushecky's hometown for a song they wrote together, the tour premiere of "Code of Silence." It was a little rough -- Bruce's recording of the song is on Essential, Joe's is on his own A Good Life (with Bruce guesting), and tonight's sounded at times like the two crashed into each other -- but it was good to get, and you can be sure the crowd appreciated seeing their favorite son up there.

"Backstreets" was played by request, an audible in place of "I'll Work For Your Love." And another impromptu Steeltown special kicked off the encore: Springsteen was strumming the chords to "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" as usual, when he got an idea: "Let's do something we haven't done." There was a change of guitars and a quick conference with the band, essentially letting them know he'd be going it alone. "We haven't done a lot of acoustic stuff on this tour," he told the crowd, going into a solo reading of "Youngstown" -- cheers at "Monogahela Valley," of course, and kudos to the lighting guys for thinking fast and bringing up the red light for this one. Five more songs followed, including a "Kitty's Back" that just keeps getting better (if that's possible), and closing the show, those listening carefully heard Springsteen welcoming the Grusheckys to these shores in "American Land."
-Photographs by Guy Aceto

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
The Ties That Bind
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Code of Silence
Backstreets
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Youngstown
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Kitty's Back
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

November 12 / Washington DC / Verizon Center
Notes:
While tour premieres were initially on our minds for this Veterans Day show, what seemed to be on Bruce's mind were the guys in wheelchairs sitting beside the stage -- which quickly put everything in perspective. Before the show, Bruce, Patti, and Evan Springsteen spent the afternoon visiting wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and a contingent from the hospital came out for the concert. Springsteen dedicated "The Promised Land" to them, to "honor their service and their sacrifice. Let's hear it for them!" He also made a point of playing to stage left regularly over the course of the night, to make sure they were getting a good night out. One of the servicemen had his young son with him, decked out in a Magic T-shirt that Bruce had signed before the show, and as if the kid weren't already having the time of his life, Bruce snuck over and gave him his harmonica at the end of the night. So okay, we can live without our daydreamed performance of "Shut Out the Light."

And it's not as if related themes are ever lacking in the Magic show. "Gypsy Biker" was a hot one, "Devil's Arcade" was sent out "for Veterans Day," and before "Last to Die," Springsteen hollered "This is for John!" Surely that was John Kerry, the source of the song's title, who was indeed in the house. Before "Livin' in the Future," Bruce sang the praises of Washington DC, in his own way: "It's always an inspiring place to come to see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial... it brings you back to the things the country was founded on. There's also something about the city that reminds me of the handle on the screwdriver."

Song highlights included two from The River: "The Ties That Bind" and the second tour performance of "Jackson Cage." They owned "Jackson Cage" -- with Garry Tallent the majority shareholder -- and the transition from there to a high-energy "She's the One" was flawless. "Thunder Road" took the encore wild card slot, and "American Land" was particularly rousing tonight -- hell, Garry was doing a jig! -- both a celebratory and a clear-eyed look at the American Way here in our nation's capitol. And with the lyrics on the screen, even the lobbyists were singing along. Except for maybe that one line toward the end.
-Photograph by Kurt O'Neill

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
The Ties That Bind
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Jackson Cage
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Town Called Heartbreak
Backstreets
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

November 11 / Washington DC / Verizon Center
Notes:
"So glad to be in your wicked -- I mean, your beautiful city tonight!" Bruce said at this first of two shows in our nation's capital. He also took note of the setting before "Magic," after talking about living in an age where lies can be twisted into truth and vice versa: "Hey, this is where it happens! This is the City of Magic!" Not only location but also the occasion was clearly on Bruce's mind tonight, with a resonant "No Surrender," "The Promised Land" going out to the good people from the Bethesda Naval Hospital, and a particularly strong "Devil's Arcade" dedicated to "my good friend Bobby Muller, and for Veteran's Day." (Muller is president of Veterans for America, formerly the Vietnam Veterans of America for whom Springsteen played a legendary benefit back in '81) A big highlight was the second-ever performance of "I'll Work For Your Love" into "Tunnel of Love," with blistering soloing from Nils.

Things really got cooking in the encore, which stretched out to six songs with a knock-out double-shot of early material: the tour premiere of "Growin' Up," into an incredible "Kitty's Back." Cousin Frank from the Sessions Band joined in on acoustic guitar and vocals for the show-closing "American Land." Hope they could hear that one on the Hill...
-Photographs by Guy Aceto

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
I'll Work For Your Love
Tunnel of Love
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Growin' Up
Kitty's Back
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land


November 9 / New York, NY / Chelsea Piers
Notes: The fifth annual Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation benefit featured Bob Costas as Master of Ceremonies, a whole host of Yankees in the crowd, Billy Crystal cracking wise, and Bruce Springsteen batting clean-up with a rollicking half-hour acoustic set. Saying that he had been a Yankee fan since he was a kid, Bruce offered a riff on the Beverly Hillbillies theme about Torre heading for Beverly (Hills, that is...) which went right into a hard-strummed take on the Rivieras' "California Sun," with modified lyrics also in honor of Torre: "I'm goin' to where the palm trees are swayin'/Nobody gonna second-guess just who I'm playin'!" [Watch video here.] After "Working on the Highway" it was a new original, written for the occasion in the spirit of "I'm Turning Into Elvis" and "Freehold," call this one "Yankees Win." Bruce joked it would be the first cut on his next album, and the song got a little ribald as he described Patti in a Yankee hat and pinstripes... Everyone got a chuckle. Solo takes on "Thunder Road," "Bobby Jean" (with Bruce struggling to find the melody) and "Dancing in the Dark" followed. Finally, he asked Patti and Bernie Williams to join him. Patti grabbed a tambourine, Bernie a guitar (and he knows his way around it, for sure). Bruce made a joke about Bernie getting too old for baseball -- but he's just a baby if he goes into the music business at this point. They let it go with a great rendition of "Glory Days," the song about not crying over what you had and what you lost. Bernie did a wonderful jazz interlude during the middle of the song. Patti and Bruce sang together, Bernie and Bruce sang together, and everyone just had grins on their faces. Looking around the room, there were Bob Costas and Joe Torre were singing along, Bernie's kids excited that he's up on stage doing a song with Bruce Springsteen, and just a lot of people happy to get this close to Bruce in such an intimate environment and watch him enjoy himself. This was not a job tonight. This was a favor for a good friend, for a good cause, and it was all wrapped up in Yankee pinstripes. I doubt if next year's benefit will have this same flavor, but these last licks were good.
-Photograph and reporting by Pam Farquhar

Setlist:
California Sun
Working on the Highway
Yankees Win
Thunder Road
Bobby Jean
Dancing in the Dark
Glory Days


November 7 / New York, NY / Town Hall
Notes: In the midst of the E Street Band tour, Springsteen went it alone tonight for the Stand Up for Heroes benefit, playing three songs on acoustic guitar and harmonica. On a bill that also included Robin Williams, Lewis Black, and Brian Regan -- this was a New York Comedy Festival event -- Bruce deferred to the funnymen and went on first. Which was a surprise to many in the crowd -- when's the last time Springsteen was an opening act? Emcee Conan O'Brien introduced him as "the man who stole my drummer," and Bruce corrected him, "No, Conan, I believe you stole my drummer." In keeping with the Comedy Festival setting, Bruce kept it pretty light and offered a corny joke to intro to each song, including the classic "Interrupting Cow" knock-knock joke. But in keeping with the beneficiary of the event (the Bob Woodruff Family Fund, which assists returning vets injured in combat, particularly those suffering from brain trauma) and playing to a good number of soldiers in the front rows, Springsteen dedicated a very apropos "Devil's Arcade" to the veterans and their families. This was the first acoustic version of the song, Bruce adding some "Promised Land"-style percussive effects on the guitar where Max would normally be doing his thing. On either side, he opened with "This Hard Land," and closed with "Thunder Road." No "Fire" duet with Robin Williams, unfortunately. But Bruce wasn't quite done yet -- after his performance, he rolled onstage on his '91 Harley, which was auctioned off and raised north of $80,000 for the cause.

Setlist:
This Hard Land
Devil's Arcade
Thunder Road


November 5 / Auburn Hills, MI / The Palace
Notes: Finally, one of the M.I.A. Magic songs joined the party, as "I'll Work For Your Love" debuted in Detroit, paired nicely with "Tunnel of Love." Earlier in the day at the Palace, Springsteen and the band also soundchecked "You'll Be Comin' Down," so maybe that holdout will soon get its due as well. "Jackson Cage," last played in August 2003 (Pittsburgh), also had its Magic premiere, setlisted to be the second song but Bruce switched it to the post-"Reason" slot. A third new addition to the set was a total audible, not played since September 2003 (Hartford) or even soundchecked, and we owe it to a six-year-old named Noah who was very into the show. "This kid's been rockin' all night!" Bruce said, showing the crowd his sign, (which even gets points for politeness), and obliged with a rockin' "Ramrod." That took the place of "Kitty's Back" on the set, but we haven't heard anyone complain. Certainly not Noah, who was given quite a few tangible souvenirs from the band as well. Here's lookin' at you, kid. Elder folks in the crowd were Martha Reeves, Dave Marsh with his mom, and our pal Gary Graff, whose Detroit review is here.
-Concert photograph by A.M. Saddler

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
Night
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Jackson Cage
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
I'll Work For Your Love
Tunnel of Love
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Ramrod
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

November 4 / Cleveland, OH / Quicken Loans Arena
Notes: A knockout performance for Cleveland, with a setlist to match. Every E Street album was represented in the show tonight with the exception of The River -- and if you count River-era B-side "Be True," which had its tour premiere, it was a sweep. Representing Greetings was another tour debut, "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City." Paired with "She's the One," it was just massive. "Tunnel" represented Tunnel, and from The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle in the encore, it was another stunning "Kitty's Back." All that, and they still had room for "woman power," as Bruce put it, with Patti spotlighted on "Town Called Heartbreak" as she returned to the fold after her absence in St. Paul. Oh, and speaking of woman power, Bruce referenced the Lynn Goldsmith photography exhibit down the road at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: "I hope they don't have pictures of me with my pants down!" In the crowd: The Raspberries' Eric Carmen, and retired longtime Plain Dealer rock critic (and huge Springsteen fan) Jane Scott.
-Photograph by Guy Aceto

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
Night
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Town Called Heartbreak
Tunnel of Love
Be True
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Kitty's Back
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

November 2 / St. Paul, MN / Xcel Energy Center
Notes: A fun, high-energy show for a great crowd in the Twin Cities, which went nuts when necessary and quiet when called for (and it was called for, Bruce shushing the crowd a few times for the "Reason to Believe" harp intro). A bunch of teenagers were right up front, and Springsteen seemed to be having a great time playing to them. Basically, it was a classic example of what Bruce means when he talks about the crowd and performer being "in concert": He was into the crowd, they were into him, and they just fed off each other. Setlist-wise, nothing to raise eyebrows, no tour premieres... but "Incident on 57th Street" was an amazing performance, they played the pants off it. Garry Tallent in particular was a wonder to behold as the song's solid bedrock. Going from "Incident" into the all-out goofiness of "Working on the Highway" was the epitome of "from the sublime to the ridiculous"... but it worked. Garry even stepped up for backing vocals on "Highway" -- go Funky!

Other notables: "Gypsy Biker" was an early stand-out, as was "Reason." No Patti tonight, so Soozie once again took over the "Magic" duet. And "Thunder Road" still has life in it yet, played by "special request" -- with Bruce wielding the Fender Esquire from there into "Born to Run." Kudos to management and security at the Xcel Center for a phenomenal job with the GA process; expecially considering there were 1,135 fans wristbanded for the lottery, the entry was organized, orderly, safe and smooth. That certainly didn't hurt the vibe in the arena. "Thank you, Twin Cities. You've been a fantastic audience," Bruce said at the close of the show, and he offered a benediction: "Long live happiness!" And as the lights came up and fans read what was on the screens, there was one more thing to be happy about: "Bruce returns March 16. Tickets on sale November 10 at 10 a.m."
-Photographs by Alan Chitlik

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Your Own Worst Enemy
Incident on 57th Street
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

October 30 / Los Angeles, CA / Sports Arena
Notes: A spooooky beginning to this All Hallow's Eve Eve show, with cauldrons and jack o'lanterns on the stage, a touch of smoke... Gotta love Bruce's sense of history, not to mention sense of fun, as 27 years since his first of two Halloween shows at this very venue (10/31/80, 10/31//84), he once again came on stage in a coffin. A half-dozen crew members dressed as zombies served as pallbearers, Bruce's hand rose up to take his guitar, the coffin tipped forward and off we went into "Radio Nowhere." Cool, cool, cool. [Watch the video clip at brucespringsteen.net.] And not just the start -- it was another great show for L.A. all around, with the band in incredible form and Bruce in particularly high spirits. In the main set, three songs not played the night before: "The Ties That Bind," "Night," and "Tunnel of Love." They've really got "Tunnel" figured out now -- this was a killer version with Nils just all over the solos, and impressive vocals from Patti. "Devil's Arcade" was Max's high point of the night, and he also added lots of fun extra fills on "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" (a song also worth mentioning for Clarence's spot-on solo). After "Girls" came the biggie of the night, which Bruce called the "pre-Halloween treat for Los Angeles": "Kitty's Back." Yes, the cat came back, and it was perfect, Bruce just nailing the guitar intro, and the whole band completely in the groove. Quite a rarity for any crowd, let alone one on the West coast. They ate it up, too. As one longtime concert-goer put it, "It was 1975-good. How can they play a song like that once every ten years and absolutely nail it?" Maybe just a little Halloween Magic.  

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
The Ties That Bind
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Town Called Heartbreak
Tunnel of Love
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Kitty's Back
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

October 29 / Los Angeles, CA / Sports Arena
Notes: The wildfires may not have reached the L.A. Sports Arena, but the heat sure did. On the figurative side, it was a powerful performance that had the usual staid, laid-back L.A. crowd on their feet and putting their cell phones away. "I love the Sports Arena!" hollered Bruce, and though the venue has seen better days, returning to the E Street Band's old '80s haunt rather than the cavernous newfangled Staples Center surely had something to do with the energy -- "very old school!" as he put it. On the literal side, also very old school, it was hot. As in fainting hot. Springsteen brought water to the pit from his own supply, and soon water bottles were being distributed, but a couple folks still went down. "We only lost one, right?" Bruce asked toward the end of the show. "Oh, we lost two?..."

"Gypsy Biker," with its screaming guitars, was awe-inspiring, and "Reason to Believe" took the set to another level -- followed by "Candy's Room" and "She's the One," and the place was jumping, no one in their seats. There was a great reaction to new material from Magic as well, which Bruce referred to as "our smash hit album." There were screams for "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," as Bruce sent it out to "all the California Girls!" A terrific story preceded "Thundercrack." Bruce talked about the band's first visit to L.A., for the 1973 Ahmanson Theater CBS showcase -- notable because it was the first time any member of the E Street Band had ever been on an airplane. He introduced the song as "our big showstopper back then," adding that by the time they'd played it the show had pretty much stopped (to visible laughter from Clarence and Danny). He didn't play "Haunted House" with a mention of his first gigs at the Sports Arena on the River tour exactly 27 years ago... but there's always tonight!
-Photographs by Margaret Mish

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Candy's Room
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Town Called Heartbreak
Backstreets
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thundercrack
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

October 26 / Oakland, CA / Oracle Arena
Notes:
This was originally the only Bay Area show on the schedule, so it's been long-sold out, and the energy in the place was high -- even before the show started, with spontaneous cheers arising before the lights went down. As one fan puts it, "Church was back in session tonight... another great show, but this time with the appropriate feedback from the crowd!" Six songs not played the night before, including "Tunnel of Love" and the debut of "Working on the Highway," both of which were setlisted but not played on night one; plus as the tour premieres of "Two Hearts" (complete with the "It Takes Two" outro) and "Racing in the Street." "Working" was a whole lot of fun, feeling fresh and recalling more its closing slot on the '92/93 tour than its place as a semi-disappointing post-"Tenth" wildcard on the reunion tour. It's good to see Bruce remember that he's got other songs in the canon that can do the job of "Darlington" (and of course this is still just the top of the iceberg). "Racing in the Street" brought the energy level down a bit -- "I've seen 'Racing' build at the end to have crowd coming to its feet," says another fan, "but it didn't do that tonight" -- but it was still absolutely gorgeous.

The only one that didn't go over, sadly, was "Thundercrack." Bruce introduced it by mentioning The Matrix, where he played with Steel Mill when he was just 19... but since he played relatively few West Coast shows in the early '70s, there just wasn't that much familiarity with this song. After his cue to sing along at the beginning was met with bewilderment by the crowd, Bruce said, "That was terrible!" But of course after the song builds, and from there goes into "Born to Run," "Dancing in the Dark," and "American Land," any terribleness on anyone's part was soon forgotten.
-Thanks to Brucebase for the image

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Two Hearts
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Tunnel of Love
Racing in the Street
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thundercrack
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

October 25 / Oakland, CA / Oracle Arena
Notes: The first Magic show on the West Coast, and a solid one for the Bay Area, though there was the typical drop in audience effusiveness. Not an indifferent or disrespectful crowd, just to be clear -- fewer people seemed to be taking bathroom breaks or looking for excuses to sit than elsewhere -- just less demonstrative. A thunderous performance of "Backstreets" was met with relatively little reaction, and there seemed to be less audience familiarity with the new material.

Of course, Bruce having to work hard to get the crowd into it ain't always a bad thing. "Adam Raised a Cain" absolutely killed, with a screaming lead from Bruce, and he eventually got everyone singing along on "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" in the encore. "Your Own Worst Enemy" came out for just the third time, and it was the only moment when the band, rather than the crowd, seemed tentative; Bruce turned up the bandleader juice, though, and it picked up as it went along. "Thunder Road" in the encore again came across as rejuvenated, a song Springsteen wants to play. And the crowd lapped up older material like this -- when he came to the edge of the stage with that old battered Esquire, letting the front row bang away at it to "make it talk," you could throw any thoughts about the crowd being reserved out the window.
-Photographs by Jere Visalli (top), Margaret Kay Photography (bottom)

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
The Ties That Bind
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Adam Raised a Cain
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Town Called Heartbreak
Backstreets
Your Own Worst Enemy
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

October 22 / Chicago, IL / United Center
Notes: What was that I said yesterday about First Night Syndrome? Not that Chicago 1 was at all shabby... but this second show knocked it out of the park. (Whether Wrigley or U.S. Cellular Field, we'll leave that to you). Six songs not played the night before, including three tour premieres. "Tunnel of Love," always a thrill to get, featured Patti, who was back on stage tonight, and white-hot guitar work from Nils -- on his second solo, he even played with his teeth. That was the first of a non-stop three pack, going right into a fine "Spirit in the Night" with "Darlington County" immediately following, featuring Clarence and Soozie really hamming it up. "Devil's Arcade" was dedicated to Tom Brokaw.

Clearly about to play "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," Springsteen called quite an audible to lead off the encore instead. The change of heart came from seeing some kids right up front in the pit: "There are a lot of young folks up here tonight," he said, switching guitars and calling out (an un-soundchecked) "Thunder Road" to the band. "Last time we played this was five years ago... but we played it for 35 years before that, so maybe it'll balance out." It did -- well-rested, with Bruce clearly wanting to play it rather than feeling obligated, it was the best "Thunder Road" in recent memory. The crowd lapped it up. No Double Thunder, though -- Bruce dropped "Thundercrack" from its usual slot, keeping the encore to just four songs. A very different experience from the second night in Philadelphia -- while Philly 2 was all about intensity, tonight in Chicago was very fun and loose -- but they're evenly matched as the best of the tour so far.

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
Prove It All Night
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Candy's Room
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Tunnel of Love
Spirit in the Night
Darlington County
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

October 21 / Chicago, IL / United Center
Notes: Heading into tonight's show, the first of two in Chi-town, a friend of mine (who can't make it for show #2) was concerned about "First Night Syndrome" -- in which the first of a two-night stand gets a straight "model A" setlist, with all the rarities saved for night two. No worries this time. Who knows, Bruce may go completely off the map tomorrow, but Chicago 1 got a nice batch of wild cards. "No Surrender" had only its third tour airing, "Adam Raised a Cain" was the meat in that always-tasty "Reason"/"She's the One" sandwich, and check out the post-"Promised Land" three-pack: "Your Own Worst Enemy" (played tonight for the second time ever), "Backstreets," and "Cadillac Ranch."

Patti was absent tonight, and Bruce dedicated "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" to her: "Patti sends her regards... it's a kid thing, that's all I can tell ya!" The band's other redhead, Soozie Tyrell, came downstage from behind the piano to take Patti's spot, even dueting with Bruce on "Magic."

Introducing "Thundercrack" as his original showstopper, Bruce said that the song "goes all the way back to the Quiet Knight days." The Quiet Knight was a Chicago club that no longer exists -- Springsteen played a five-night stand there, opening for The Persuasions, back in 1973. Sensing that the reference might not mean much to some in the crowd, Bruce added, "that was way back before the Fire."
-Photographs by A.M. Saddler

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Adam Raised a Cain
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Your Own Worst Enemy
Backstreets
Cadillac Ranch
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thundercrack
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

October 18 / New York, NY / Madison Square Garden
Notes: Night two at the Garden, with six songs not played last night, including the tour premieres of "Meeting Across the River" and "Jungleland" (played back-to-back, natch). Springsteen introduced the pair with a dedication to the late Peter Boyle: "An old friend passed away a while back -- we met him when we first came to New York City... Today would have been his birthday." "Meeting" featured just Bruce, Roy on piano, and Garry on stand-up bass. A trainspotting note: the "two grand" practically sitting in the singer's pocket is now "three grand" -- chalk it up to inflation. On "Jungleland," Clarence did himself very proud with the sax solo, and his Boss was smiling ear-to-ear. Other rarities in the set were "Tougher Than the Rest" and "You Can Look." While Bruce always wants the asses out of the seats, tonight he was noticeably working hard to make sure everyone in the crowd was into it. He was particularly into it himself on that ever-intense three-pack from "Reason to Believe" through "She's the One," this time with "Candy's Room" between. Banter included hawking of new wares -- "We've got a new line of E Street Band sexual toys. What we use in the comfort of our own home, you can use in the comfort of your own home" (strangely, the merch tables seemed to be sold out after the show) -- as well as more playing on the rivalry between New York and New Jersey. Not forgetting where he was, though, he came out for the encore after a rare costume change, wearing a black "New York City" T-shirt. Notable guests in the crowd included Howard Stern and his staff, Bette Midler, and Caroline Kennedy. Notable guests onstage were five members of the Sessions Band, joining old bandmates Soozie, Patti, Bruce and the rest for the show-closing "American Land": Lisa Lowell on vocals, Jeremy Chatzky on bass, Larry Eagle on percussion, Charlie Giordano at Roy's piano (whlle the Professor played accordion), and Greg Liszt on banjo.
Photograph by Ruth Barohn

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
Night
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Candy's Room
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Tougher Than the Rest
Meeting Across the River
Jungleland
You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thundercrack
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

October 17 / New York, NY / Madison Square Garden
Notes: A solid, fun show for night one at the Garden. Springsteen wasn't in man-on-a-mission mode, he just seemed to be enjoying himself thoroughly. Not to suggest there wasn't plenty of power on that stage: "Backstreets" kicked ass, and the "Reason"/"Adam"/"She's the One" trifecta is hard to deny. But there was just more of the relaxed feel that comes with this kind of "friends and family" show. Spotted in the crowd: James Gandolfini, The Killers, and Bono (who was rumored for a guest spot, but didn't leave his seat all night).

At the end of "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" Bruce dropped a Beach Boys reference (besides the song itself), saying, "I wish they all could be New York City girls...." And he cast his mind back to his early days in the city for "Thundercrack": "This was our show closer when we first played Max's Kansas City. It was us and the Wailers -- that was a good bill." I'll say. During "Dancing in the Dark," Bruce hollered, "C'mon, Stevie -- let's dance!" And Steve didn't disappoint, going right into the Monkey. It was that kind of night.
-Photographs by A.M. Saddler

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
The Ties That Bind
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Adam Raised a Cain
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Brilliant Disguise
Backstreets
Darlington County
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thundercrack
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

October 15 / Toronto, ON / Air Canada Centre
Notes: For the back half of their two-show jaunt to Canada, Bruce pulled out more of a standard set. No Arcade Fire repeat performance; that was a one-off for Ottawa only. But the nightly tour debuts continue -- tonight's was a brisk "For You" -- demonstrating how remarkably on their mettle the band is for this early in the tour. Another golden oldie, "Incident on 57th Street" was dedicated to Humphrey Kadaner, president of HMV Canada and a longtime Bruce fan, who personally guaranteed his customers that they'd love Magic or get their money back. This was Kadaner's 87th Springsteen concert. The crowd at this sold-out show (there were a couple thousand empty seats in Ottawa -- keep kicking yourselves, A.F. fans!) ate it all up. They clearly knew the new material, and while the more obscure "Thundercrack" didn't seem to ring bells for many, it wound up being very well received. It didn't hurt that the band absolutely nailed it. No one was complaining nine nights ago in Philly, but since then the confidence, the pacing, the tightness, have all dramatically improved. Also during that time, "Dancing in the Dark" (with the house lights staying up, following "Born to Run") has found a consistent home as the night's penultimate song, replacing "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" for a much stronger encore. This is a show, and a band, that's ready to take Manhattan.

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
Night
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
For You
Magic
Reason to Believe
Candy's Room
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Town Called Heartbreak
Incident on 57th Street
Darlington County
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thundercrack
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

October 14 / Ottawa, ON / Scotiabank Place
Notes: Four more tour premieres tonight, including "Tougher Than the Rest" (an audible, in the "Heartbreak"/"Brilliant" slot on the setlist) and "Backstreets." But when the spot-on debut of "Backstreets" isn't the big story of the night, you know something unusual happened. Yep, in the six-song encore, Bruce and the E Streeters were joined by members of Arcade Fire, husband-and-wife band co-founders Win Butler and Régine Chassagne. First up was "State Trooper," a song Arcade Fire has been known to cover, and which the E Street Band hasn't played live since the Born in the U.S.A. tour. After that, they all went into "Keep the Car Running," a hard-hitting track from Arcade Fire's magnificent Neon Bible. [Stream the album version here.] We're always hoping for more covers in the set, any chance this one stays in? No? Well, the chances weren't good that it'd get played in the first place, either... so we can dream. In any case, quite a curveball in the indie band's homeland, and a cross-generational mingling of talent on par with the R.E.M. team-up of 2004. Update: Actually, upon reflection, AF's appearance has more in common with Eddie Vedder's, especially in terms of bestowing the ultimate honor in a guest spot: The E Street Band learns your song, and you peform it with them. Dig the video at Pitchfork.com.

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
The Ties That Bind
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Adam Raised a Cain
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Tougher Than the Rest
Backstreets
Darlington County
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
State Trooper
Keep the Car Running
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land


October 13 / Rumson, NJ / "Kick Up Your Paws" SPCA Fundraiser
Notes: At Max and Becky Weinberg's benefit for the Monmouth County SPCA on Saturday night, Springsteen joined the Max Weinberg 7 at the end of their set for six songs. About 500 people were in attendance for the fundraiser, at the Weinberg's farm. "Terry Magovern was involved in this event, too, and he was looking forward to it," Max told the Asbury Park Press, "so it's dedicated to him."

Setlist:
Seven Nights to Rock
634-5789
From Small Things
Kansas City
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Twist and Shout


October 10 / E. Rutherford, NJ / Continental Airlines Arena
Notes: Springsteen was a man on a mission tonight -- very on, very pumped, and putting on a "this is how it's done" kind of show at the Meadowlands. This one hit all generations of fans, stretching out to 25 songs, with no less than four tour premieres. Not the kind of show Jersey often gets, frankly. But for this last scheduled stop in his home state -- which found Bruce repeating, "let me hear from my homies!" -- he was clearly determined to deliver. Anyone with VH1 got to see that opening three-fer, a delicious "Night" sandwich... but the big surprises came after the cameras were off. The tour debut of "Adam Raised a Cain" was shit hot and rocking, to quote a favorite old bootleg title; "Cynthia," an audible (and only the second time the E Street Band has done this one live), kicked ass, too. The live debut of "Your Own Worst Enemy" came with a few false starts, Danny starting things off at first, then a change of guitars... Bruce said it was a "debate society" up there. Once they got this "never before attempted" Magic song going, though, it was a success. (Well, to us, anyway. Bruce said afterwards, "That's close!") Strangely, there was a bigger response for this one than for tonight's "Incident on 57th Street." But the Jersey crowd has its own sensibilities: based on the cheers for the items on his list of what makes America great, Bruce remarked, "Ah, the Bill of Rights is under Max's hot dogs, that's not good!" The fourth tour premiere, "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)," featured some fiery guitar solos, and a particularly fine performance from the Big Man: "Hey you! Get out the car!" In the encore, "Thundercrack" was dedicated to "our good friend Lenny Kaye," the dean of garage rock, Patti Smith Group guitarist, and curator of the original Nuggets. Kaye was in the pit tonight, and as he said to a friend as "American Land" wrapped up the show: "...and a great time was had by all."

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
Night
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Adam Raised a Cain
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Cynthia
The Promised Land
Town Called Heartbreak
Incident on 57th Street
Your Own Worst Enemy
You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thundercrack
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

October 9 / E. Rutherford, NJ / Continental Airlines Arena
Notes: Well, Saturday night in Philly would have been hard to top no matter what happened at this show. Not that Bruce and the E Streeters didn't try -- the story the setlist doesn't tell is that they were on fire tonight. Can't say the same of the Jersey crowd, though. "Take 'Reason to Believe,'" says one guy who saw both shows. "In Philly, everyone was singing along. Tonight, they were sitting on their asses." Later in the show Bruce needled his fellow New Jerseyans, "Philly was much louder than this!" An old showbiz trick, of course, and the audience went nuts in response... but you got the sense Bruce wasn't really joking. Some technical difficulties, seemingly with Roy's electric piano, prompted some setlist switch-ups, right in that middle section where Springsteen still seems to be struggling with what to do. An audibled "Darkness" subbed in for "Town Called Heartbreak," and (speaking of heartbreak) the setlisted "Incident"/"Backstreets" and "You Can Look" slots were filled by "Brilliant Disguise" and "Darlington County." "Darlington" did at least bring some signs of life from the Jersey crowd. And overall, despite those few obstacles, this was a very strong performance -- very high energy from the band, the guitar solos in "Gypsy Biker" continue to astound, Bruce even worked some of his "Boogaloo" dance moves into "Dancing in the Dark," having a laugh on himself.
Photograph: A.M. Saddler

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Candy's Room
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Brilliant Disguise
Darlington County
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thundercrack
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

October 6 / Philadelphia, PA / Wachovia Center
Notes: Only three shows into the tour, and Bruce and the band have found that next level. Chalk it up to the locale, to it being the second show of a stand, to their determination to rise up to a challenge, whatever -- Philly 2 was an electric show. That was signified right out of the the gate with "Night," a real shot in the arm as the opener, bumping "Radio Nowhere" to the second slot for the first time. In all there were seven songs not played the previous night, most of which served to elevate this very high-energy show.

"Town Called Heartbreak" was suddenly transformed, with a full-band treatment and a particularly happening organ intro. That song went right into a true Philly special, "Incident on 57th Street" -- which they nailed. Odds would have seemed against such a thing this early in a tour.... but hey, it's Magic. (And "incidentally," that'll teach anyone who decided to hit the bathroom during the Patti song.) Next up was the wildest one of the night, a completely spontaneous "Cadillac Ranch." A true audible, Bruce impulsively called for solos left and right, catching Steve in particular off guard, and pushing Soozie to center stage to countrify the song a bit. In the encore, "Dancing in the Dark" was also ramshackle but right, working really, really well as a replacement for "Sunny Day."

For all our talk about rehearsals honing the new songs, chops, transitions, pacing, yadda yadda yadda... all those things have to be there, sure, that's the foundation (and you don't think "Incident" sounds that good without practice, right?), but this one demonstrated that what really makes for a powerful show is spontaneity, energy, and a venture or two off the map. Keep keepin' 'em on their toes, Bruce. If Friday was a bit wobbly, they fixed all those wheels for tonight, clearly the best Magic show yet.
Photographs: Jose Rovalino

Setlist:
Night
Radio Nowhere
Prove It All Night
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
The Ties That Bind
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Town Called Heartbreak
Incident on 57th Street
Cadillac Ranch
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thundercrack
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

October 5 / Philadelphia, PA / Wachovia Center
Notes: Seemingly too early in the tour to blow minds with any Philly-only specials, Springsteen did at least acknowledge his long history with the city as he introduced "Thundercrack": "I played this song in Philadelphia before the Liberty Bell got cracked.... in fact, I think this one cracked it!" This being the second show of the tour proper, it's a relatively stable set so far, with four song swap-outs from opening night: "No Surrender" came in for "Ties That Bind," "Candy's Room" for "Night," the tour debut of "Brilliant Disguise" for "Town Called Heartbreak," and "My Hometown" for "Darkness."

"Radio Nowhere" into "No Surrender" is a powerful opener, and there's that three-pack in the middle of the set that just smokes -- tonight it was Reason / Candy / She's the One. Unfortunately it was soon followed by another three-pack (Brilliant / Hometown / Darlington) that failed to capitalize on the momentum of a show that was really cooking along up to that point. A hallmark of Springsteen concerts has always been the well-plotted arc, his steady-handed steering through peaks and valleys of energy and emotion. On this outing so far, with "My Hometown" dangerously close to being a dead spot tonight (particularly frustrating for anyone who glimpsed "Adam Raised a Cain" as its alternate on the setlist), he's still working on negotiating those valleys. The peaks are high. Sure, there was a to-be-expected overall drop in energy from opening night, but Bruce was in fine spirits tonight and Steve was especially animated, and the band just continues to get better. And they ain't through with Philly yet -- as Bruce said at the end, "See ya tomorrow!"
Photograph: A.M. Saddler

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Candy's Room
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Brilliant Disguise
My Hometown
Darlington County
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thundercrack
Born to Run
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
American Land

October 2 / Hartford, CT / Hartford Civic Center
Notes: The official kick-off of the Magic tour comes on Bruce Springsteen Day, as it was declared by Connecticut governor Jodi Rell. Bruce and the E Street Band took the Hartford Civic Center stage at 8:25 and played a two-hour-and-20-minute show, sticking pretty close to the basic set they'd established at last week's warm-up concerts. But in a full arena, as opposed to the few thousand people they played for at the rehearsals, there's a whole different energy level in the room, and Bruce and the band upped their game accordingly. A few rough spots, as to be expected on opening night, and pacing issues remain, but they've been making progress every night, the show just getting better and tighter. In fact, could this be the best E Street Band opening night yet? Certainly more cylinders firing from the get-go than on the Rising tour, and with Bruce and the band in great spirits, laughing with each other, it was very loose and comfortable for a first show. There's a reason for those warm-ups, huh?

The opening barrage is a powerhouse, with "Ties" wickedly tight, and there was also a particularly powerful three-pack in the middle of the set: "Reason to Believe" into "Night" into "She's the One." As one fan eloquently told me: "Wowza!" This new arrangement of "Reason" remains the highlight of the show, aside from hearing the new stuff live.

No additional songs from Magic other than what had been rehearsed; the only song added to the set tonight was a straightforward "Darkness on the Edge of Town," replacing "Born in the U.S.A." "Darkness" was an audible, and it seemed like Bruce used it as a place of comfort, to refocus himself and the band after "Town Called Heartbreak," which is still trying to find its way in terms of connecting with the crowd. In the encore, not many in the Hartford crowd seemed to recognize "Thundercrack," but "Born to Run" had them going nuts. On the show-closing "American Land," a trio of gals in the pit were moved to dance an Irish jig.

And what the hell was that thing? Before the band came out, a crazy musical contraption rose up on stage, looking like it might become part of the magic show (which would almost top the kitchen sink from the Sessions tour). It disappeared as the concert got underway, but left some fans scratching their heads. Turns out it was a restored calliope that Bruce had just been given as a gift, he figured he'd show it off. Watch for Bruce's new tie in Philly!
Photographs: A.M. Saddler

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
The Ties That Bind
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Town Called Heartbreak
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Darlington County
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thundercrack
Born to Run
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
American Land

September 28 / E. Rutherford, NJ / Continental Airlines Arena
Notes: After the morning's performance on the Today show in New York, it was across the river to the Jersey side that night, where Bruce told the crowd, "I still got my pajamas on under my clothes! It was too early!" He welcomed everybody to "the last night of E Street Boot Camp," a 22-song rehearsal show that got off to a late start, a little past 9. And make no mistake: it was a rehearsal, visible not only in the eeriness of the draped-off, mostly-empty confines of the building that's usually full for such an occasion, but also in the occasional cue to one band member or another for more this or that, or in a transition from one song to the next that still needs work. Loving that "Candy's Room"/"She's the One" pairing, which was back last night -- they just gotta figure out how one gets to the other.

Overall, though, Springsteen appears to have a show that's ready for its formal debut on Tuesday in Hartford. Though ready-mades like "Badlands" "Born in the U.S.A.," and "The Promised Land" (its fourth performance on this day) are returning to duty, this is a new show. The big surprise: a completely new, full-band arrangement of "Reason to Believe," that borrows equally from the Devils & Dust tour and Z.Z. Top. We'll call it the "La Grange" arrangement, and even if you didn't like the bullet mic on the D&D tour, we bet you'll like it here -- less distortion, just a great effect for down-and-dirty rock. Also great to get "The Ties That Bind" in the second slot. Superb guitar work in spots: Steve Van Zandt emerges to take "Gypsy Biker" to a level it may not have reached otherwise; and on "Thundercrack," Bruce and Nils reach great heights on those extended instrumental passages. More teamwork: Bruce and Patti again performed "Town Called Heartbreak," and here, Ms. Scialfa gets a bona fide moment of her own while not breaking the flow of the show.

Sessions Band players Lisa Lowell and Larry Eagle joined in on maracas for the show-closing "American Land," after which Bruce hollered, "Boot Camp is complete!" Steven took that to heart, offering a military-style salute to anyone looking his way. Bruce had one more thing to say before leaving the stage, as if just remembering himself that this whole thing hasn't even begun yet: "And we'll be back! Just a couple of weeks!"
Photographs: A.M. Saddler

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
The Ties That Bind
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Candy's Room
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Town Called Heartbreak
Reason to Believe
Darlington County
Born in the U.S.A.
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Thundercrack
Born to Run
American Land

September 28
New York, NY
Rockefeller Plaza

Notes: This day started early and ended late for the E Street Band, wrapping up what Bruce called "E Street Boot Camp" with two performances in New York and New Jersey.

In NYC, they were on stage well before the crack of dawn, doing a full-half hour set for the Today show soundcheck starting at 6 a.m. Pretty surreal to see those lights and sounds streaming out of Rockefeller Plaza while much of the city that never sleeps was still sleeping. A good number of die-hards didn't sleep at all, like Ralph and Joan Trecaso, who came from Cleveland (go Tribe!) and spent all night on 48th Street in order to get in. "See you in daylight," Bruce said as the band left the outdoor stage at 6:30, "thanks for being so lively this morning!"

With cameras rolling, the band was back on at 8 a.m. for "The Promised Land," and then again for the main course between 8:30 and 9, another full half-hour that opened with the day's third "Promised Land" and closed with a surprise audible of "Night." There in the crowd we could hardly hear a word of the interview segments, only partly because of all the Brooocing, but the music spoke volumes. Of the several morning shows Bruce has done in recent years, I'd say that's the most awake and not-in-need-of-coffee we've seen him. And it still wasn't over -- they were back on at 9:30 for two more songs. Considering most Today concerts are a handful of songs at best, it was quite a lot of bang for no bucks, for both teevee viewers and those who stayed up all night.
Photographs: Debra L. Rothenberg

Setlist:
The Promised Land
Radio Nowhere
Livin' in the Future
My Hometown
Long Walk Home
* * *
The Promised Land
* * *
The Promised Land
Radio Nowhere
Livin' in the Future
My Hometown
Night
* * *
Last to Die
Long Walk Home

September 25 / Asbury Park, NJ / Convention Hall
Notes: A hot show in Asbury tonight, literally and figuratively. While the sweltering temperature inside Convention Hall remained brutal for this second of two rehearsal benefits, everything else was much improved over night one. There's still work to be done, but transitions, pacing, energy level (Bruce's and the Big Man's in particular), all were noticeably improved -- even the sound was a good deal better, with speakers hung and a much clearer mix.

"We've got our feet under us," Bruce told the crowd at the beginning, "we've got our wheels turning a little bit, we didn't fuck up too much... and tonight we're going to change everything." Which they pretty much did -- still opening with "Radio Nowhere," but now closing the main set with "Badlands" after "Long Walk Home" and shuffling much in between. An effective move of "Lonesome Day" to the third slot was key to tightening the set-closing run of songs, from "Born in the U.S.A." on, revealing there heart of the show. It was an inspired rearrangement of the set that brought the show to a real climax, capped by a streamlined-for-maximum-efficiency "Badlands." Along the way they worked in five songs not played on night one: in addition to "Born in the U.S.A." and "Badlands," there was "Prove It All Night," "Magic," and Patti Scialfa's "Town Called Heartbreak," featuring Bruce and Patti sharing vocals.

Bruce talked much more tonight as well, with a much more developed rap in "Livin' in the Future" and more to say about the new material in general. Despite word that Magic is not a political record, he made it quite clear that his new songs are of course very much inspired by current events: "Devil's Arcade" was dedicated to Iraq war veterans; the "Livin' in the Future" rap enumerated "things that we look at as American" like "hot dogs, hamburgers (from the Windmill!)" and added to the list "illegal wiretapping, torture, voter suppression." "Magic," he explained, got its title from "the times we're living in: when we can make a lie seem true, and the truth seem a lie -- so watch out for that magic."
"Girls in Their Summer Clothes," moved to kick off the encore, was dedicated to those listening on the beach (and doors were opened tonight for their benefit). "American Land," still the final song of the night, got some help from two Sessions Band members, bassist Jeremy Chatzky and trumpeter Curt Ramm. Thanking everyone for coming out and helping spread some money to local charities, Bruce also encouraged folks to check out the shops on Cookman Avenue, and to visit the Wonder Bar, closing soon.

In all, a great deal of rust has been shaken off over the course of these two shows -- having "guniea pigs," as Bruce put it tonight, clearly goes a long way. May the trend continue Friday night.

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
Prove It All Night
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Town Called Heartbreak
Darlington County
Born in the U.S.A.
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thundercrack
Born to Run
American Land

September 24 / Asbury Park, NJ / Convention Hall
Notes: And so it begins! Well, it officially begins next week in Hartford, but tonight on the Asbury Park boardwalk, fans got a first taste of the E Street Band's Magic show with the first of three warm-up concerts. After spending the last couple weeks working behind closed doors, Bruce and the band welcomed their first audience to a 21-song performance that was still rough, as expected, but clearly holds a whole lot of promise.

The opening was particularly strong, Bruce coming out to ask the crowd, "Is anybody alive out there?" and slamming into "Radio Nowhere," which worked exactly as it should. That went straight into "No Surrender" and "Gypsy Biker," the latter featuring well-developed head-to-head solos from Bruce and Steve. A blistering opening three-pack, and a strong first half-hour all around. If the show never quite hung together after that -- sometimes flowing, sometimes sputtering, still in search of an arc -- it was just a reminder that they're still working out kinks. Transitions, pacing, lighting, even video, it's all being rehearsed and all a work in progress at this point. (They've got the full arena stage set up inside Convention Hall, taking up a good deal of the floor and making an already intimate space even smaller. No wonder tickets were so hard to score!)

But some inspired song choices have us loving where this thing is headed: "Something in the Night," "Night," the pairing of "Candy's Room" and "She's the One," and the retention of our favorite two Rising songs from the band's last big outing, "Lonesome Day" and "The Rising." The oldie-but-goofy "Thundercrack" (written while Bruce was "still in the womb," he said) kicked off the encore. Much as Bruce has broken this rollicking showstopper out in recent years (on the Devils & Dust tour and at holiday shows), he rightly pointed out that's it's been a long time for the E Street Band, and even the first time for some of its members. "American Land" was the final number, with the E Streeters tackling a Seeger Sessions arrangement. Not hard, necessarily, with Soozie on fiddle (yep, she's present and accounted for, as Bruce promised, also playing a good deal of acoustic guitar tonight)... plus double accordion, and Clarence on pennywhistle (!)... but still a somewhat strange carryover as a show finale.

Lessee, what else do we know... The show ran two hours on the nose, from 8:35 to 10:35. Everyone looks good, Little Steven is noticeably trim with his Silvio Dante days behind him, and Clarence is in great form, taking a seat when he feels like it (are you gonna tell him not to?) but nailing his parts. Notable omissions: "Badlands"; band intros (or any lengthy "Tenth Avenue"- or "Mary's Place"-style production number); anything from Devils & Dust. Here's the song breakdown: 7 from Magic, 3 from Born in the U.S.A., 3 from The Rising, 3 from Darkness, 3 from Born to Run, 1 from Tracks, 1 from American Land. At the beginning of the show, Bruce said they'd be offering up "a few new ones, a few old ones, maybe a few mistakes, but I doubt it." By the encore, he amended that: "Well... maybe there were a few mistakes!" There will surely be more tomorrow night. And it's pretty righteous that, as is now a well-established tradition, a couple thousand fans get to be there to see 'em.

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Gypsy Biker
Empty Sky
Something in the Night
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Night
The Promised Land
Livin' in the Future
Devil's Arcade
Candy's Room
She's the One
Lonesome Day
My Hometown
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
* * *
Thundercrack
Born to Run
Darlington County
American Land

June 28 / River Vale, NJ / Florentine Gardens
Notes: From HankLane.com: After performing his hit song "If I Should Fall Behind," Bruce Springsteen joined Jeff Lubin (of Hank Lane Music) and the rest of his band on the stage at Florentine Gardens in River Vale, NJ for a rockin' rendition of the Chuck Berry classic "C'est La Vie" ["You Never Can Tell"]. The dance floor, packed with Mr. Springsteen's immediate family and personal friends, erupted into a wall of cell-phone cameras and video-recorders as the boss traded off solos with Jeff Lubin band saxophonist, Matt Blostein, and keyboardist, Mark Bonder. The Boss could later be seen on the dance floor enjoying himself as the Jeff Lubin band cranked out pop/rock classics such as John 'Cougar' Mellencamp's "Hurts So Good" and Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer."

Setlist: If I Should Fall Behind/You Never Can Tell

June 12 / Red Bank, NJ / Two River Theatre
Notes: At the intimate Two River Theatre, Jackson Browne played a benefit show for Terry Magovern's ALS charity (Joan Dancy and P.A.L.S.). After a lengthy acoustic set (including "I Am a Patriot," "Late for the Sky," "In the Shape of a Heart," and "The Pretender") Browne was joined by his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductor, Bruce Springsteen, for two songs.

Setlist: Running on Empty/Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

June 11 / New York, NY
Notes: At a World Hunger Year benefit dinner honoring Jackson Browne and Jon Landau Management, Springsteen joined others including Browne for a little music at the end of the night, strumming along to Harry Chapin's "Circle."
Setlist: Circle

May 12 / Red Bank, NJ / Count Basie Theatre
Notes: Brian Wilson played the Beach Bash at the Basie, the Count Basie Theatre's 5th annual gala fundraiser, and a local hero joined in for some fun, fun, fun. A particular auction item earlier in the evening might have been a tip-off: a Challenger surfboard signed by both Wilson and Bruce Springsteen. The surprise guest spot came during the encore, when "The Boss!" was introduced for "Barbara Ann." Springsteen played rhythm on a white Les Paul, stepping up for a solo, too, and he shared a mic with the sax player to sing along on the chorus. For the final song, Bruce was back sans guitar to sing harmonies on "Love and Mercy" from Wilson's 1988 self-titled solo debut.

Setlist: Barbara Ann (with Brian Wilson)/Love and Mercy (with Brian Wilson)

April 29 / Asbury Park, NJ / The Stone Pony
Notes: After a lengthy afternoon soundcheck at the Pony, Bruce Springsteen took the stage in the evening with Bobby Bandiera and his band for another private benefit for the Ranney School. The usual 1-2 song soundcheck was replaced with a 3+ hour rehearsal, beginning at 2:00. Some band members were cramming up until showtime -- last-minute setlist changes had Eddie Manion heading out to his car to retrieve sheet music from his trunk. As for the show itself, Patti Scialfa and Southside Johnny guested once again, and previous school benefits provided a good model, though this year's was weighted away from covers towards Springsteen's own material. From the former category, a major highlight was "Time is on My Side," handled largely by Patti but with Bruce taking the spoken middle part; Southside Johnny led a medley of "Can I Get a Witness" and "Everybody Needs Someone to Love." Originals included "Man's Job" and a bluesy "Pink Cadillac" driven by "Peter Gunn"-style horns. School parents paid $3,000 per couple for this intimate rave-up, receiving a promise at the end of the night that the tradition would continue: "We'll see ya next year!"

Setlist:
Cadillac Ranch
634-5789
Cover Me
Spirit in the Night
From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)
Two Hearts
Rendezvous
Brilliant Disguise (with Patti Scialfa)
Tell Him (Patti)
Time is on My Side (Patti)
Further On (Up the Road)
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Seven Nights to Rock
The Fever (Southside Johnny)
Can I Get a Witness/Everybody Needs Somebody to Love (SSJ)
Talk to Me (SSJ)
Darlington County
Man's Job
Pink Cadillac
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Boy from NYC (Patti)
Dancing in the Dark
Twist and Shout

April 5 / New York, NY / Carnegie Hall
Notes: As a hard-rocking, frenetic version of "Atlantic City" performed by The Hold Steady wrapped up the "Tribute to the Music of Bruce Springsteen," a sold-out Carnegie Hall audience was pleasantly surprised as the man to whom 20 artists had previously paid tribute appeared on stage. Benefiting the Music for Youth Initiative of the UJA-Federation of New York, the already-excellent performance was capped as Bruce walked up to the microphone, telling the crowd, "I'm still alive!" 

Springsteen's performance started with an acoustic guitar and harmonica version of "The Promised Land," pairing the familiar melody with the emotive vocal style used on versions on the Tom Joad and Devils & Dust tours.

Bruce remained on stage to perform a surprise version of "Rosalita," first solo acoustic, with an improvised story in the middle ("it's been a long night, and I'm running out of lyric sheets!"), and then again with all of the evening's performers on stage, in all its full-band glory (house band Elysian Fields clearly knew their Bruce). Lead vocals the second time around were shared by Craig Finn of The Hold Steady, Badly Drawn Boy, and Jesse Malin.

Earlier in the evening, Springsteen collaborators old and new were present to perform: Patti Smith sang "Because the Night," Jesse Malin was joined by Ronnie Spector on "Hungry Heart," and Marah got the crowd into the show early with an energetic performance of "The Rising."

Other highlights (and there were many) included Joseph Arthur's version of "Born in the U.S.A."; Juliana Hatfield's solo electric reading of "Cover Me"; Badly Drawn Boy backed by Elysian Fields on a full-band "Thunder Road"; jazz pianist Uri Caine's "New York City Serenade" piano instrumental; Odetta performing what Bruce described as "the best version of '57 Channels' ever," and the Holmes Brothers' "My City of Ruins" with the Young People's Chorus of New York City, one of the musical groups receiving grants form the proceeds of the performance.
- Debra L. Rothenberg photos

Setlist:
Nebraska
- Steve Earle
Streets of Philadelphia
- The Bacon Brothers
Streets of Fire
- Elysian Fields
The River
- Josh Ritter
Because the Night
- Patti Smith
The Rising
- Marah
My City of Ruins
- Holmes Brothers with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City
Brilliant Disguise
- Robin Holcomb
Jersey Girl - Jersey Guys with Bobby Valli
Spirit in the Night - North Mississippi All-Stars
New York City Serenade - Uri Caine
Cover Me - Juliana Hatfield
One Step Up - Low Stars
Thunder Road - Badly Drawn Boy
Born in the U.S.A. - Joseph Arthur
Dancing in the Dark - Pete Yorn
Hungry Heart - Jesse Malin with Ronnie Spector
I’m Goin’ Down - M. Ward
57 Channels - Odetta
Atlantic City - The Hold Steady
The Promised Land -
Bruce
Rosalita -
Bruce
Rosalita -
Bruce with all performers


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