Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

31.7.2012, Olympiastadion Helsinki FIN

What do you write when words fail you? How do you describe the indescribable? I am still in a state of wonder and awe, shaking my head in disbelief every time I think about it. Any expectations, any wild dreams I could have had about this show were not only met but surpassed. I really don´t know how they do it, but Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band never cease to amaze me and this show left me with my mouth hanging open.

It was around 6:15 p.m. when suddenly the crowd in the center started screaming, I looked and could not believe my eyes: Bruce was walking on stage, guitar in hand. Said he came to say hi. He proceeded to talk about the people who follow him from gig to gig, thanked them all for touring with him and played “I´ll work for your Love” for us, then picked out a request sign, saying “OK, we´ll try that.” When I read it I thought I´d died and gone to heaven. It was “Leap of Faith” – never in a million years I thought I´d hear that one live. It took him a bit to figure it out, but it was just wonderful. “No surrender” followed and I started to wonder how long he was going to play. Not that I am complaining, but I never expected that. Bruce took more requests, playing “For you” and “Blinded by the Light”. He started the latter by singing that he wrote it on a bus at a time he lived about a beauty parlor and that he used a rhyming dictionary to do it – very funny. When the set was done, he came to the front row to shake people´s hands and took the time to walk by everyone. Once he left stage I just stood there dazed and smiling. This was already better than anything I had ever seen him do before and it wasn´t even the “real” concert yet.

At 10 to 8 the band was on stage. No intro music, they just walked out. “This is the last stop in Europe, let´s do it right!” Springsteen yelled and launched into “Rocking all over the world” – a great start to an unbelievable show. He continued with “Night” and “Out in the Street” got the party started. Things only got better after that with a mixed up setlist and many requests. With every song he selected I found myself exchanging looks of surprise and disbelieve with the people around me. He may not have played that many tour premieres, but the perfect set for me with many songs I had been longing to hear again. “Loose ends” was the first one of those. I was already happy as can be when Bruce pointed to yet another sign and asked Steve van Zandt if he though they could do it, just to treat us to “Prove it all Night” (´78 intro). The song as such is amazing, but to hear it like it was done back then? Heaven!

“Does this bus stop on 82nd Street” was one more song I didn´t expect, much fun with great solos. “Be true” that followed has always had a special place in my heart. Already it is becoming difficult to find words for all the highlights that night. I could not stop smiling. Soon Bruce picked up a sign with a blinking star that read “Light of Day”, marveled at the sign, wondered if anyone even knew the song, announced it had not been played on the tour before and jumped right into it. It may not be one of my favorites, but it sure was fun. This was a party for the fans, not the casual concert-goer.

“Waiting on a sunny day” was the unavoidable “pull a random child on stage and make them sing”- thing, but with the beautiful “Back in your arms” Bruce made up for anything that I might have wanted to criticize. Unfortunately the sound was rather bad during this song, but got better again after a while. The band barely left the stage when the main set ended, before they continued with “We are alive”. Great use of the choir here, they did a marvelous job. For “Dancing in the Dark” one woman got to dance with Jake and two danced with Bruce. “Tenth avenue freeze-out” started and I though this might be it, hoping Springsteen would give us just one more song after. The tribute to Clarence Clemons is beautiful and makes for a great show close, but it would have been somewhat anti-climatic as the last song on a night like this.

I could not have been more wrong, thinking he might leave us then. Bruce pointed and asked the crew to hand him another request sign, commented “We don´t know it, but we can sing it” and started “I don´t wanna go home”. I could not have thought about anything more fitting, because none of us wanted to leave at that point. I would not call Bruce`s and Steve`s duett beautiful, but it was a great rendition nonetheless. Just Perfect. “Oh Steve, I´m not going yet man. I still got a message for these people” Bruce exclaimed in the end.

“Higher and Higher” was the next song Springsteen selected – great choice. And it wasn´t over just yet, “Twist and Shout” followed as the show closer. Towards the end Bruce remarked “someone just told me we are two minutes away from 4 hours!” and started another reprise. They finally left the stage at about 2 minutes before midnight after the longest show in their history. What a day! What a night! Once again Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have proven that they are one of the best live acts out there!

Stefanie Oepen

GastmitarbeiterInnen / guest contributions

Regular guest contributors e.g. Melanie Kircher, Tatjana Tattis Murschel, Grit Kabiersch, Marina Minkler, Jasmine Frey, Maria Levin, Elvira Visser, Nina Ratavaara, John Wisniewski