Dec 10

Another Quick Bruce Review: The Pond

After a week of letting this show — one of the best I’ve seen from the band, well, ever — settle in, here are some quick notes and thoughts for fans (with the images from

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

Honda Center, Anaheim, December 4, 2012

  • Land Of Hope And Dreams (with Tom Morello): After its run on Fox’s baseball coverage this fall, I was wondering how it would hold up. And, surprisingly, for a song that’s usually been a set closer throughout its long career, it worked rather well in the lead-off role.
  • Adam Raised A Cain: The first sign we might be in for something special. A personal favorite and always a stellar fit in the important No. 2 song role as a true tone-setter.
  • Streets Of Fire: Wow, here we go. I haven’t looked back through all the old setlists of shows I’ve seen, but I wouldn’t be stunned if this was my first go-round with this one.
  • Hungry Heart: Four songs in and Bruce had the crowd in the palm of his hand. The famed sing-along brings those goosebumps every time.
  • We Take Care Of Our Own: If you’d have told me we’d already have heard the previous four songs before this one, I’d have thought you were yanking my chain. The band really has this song on autopilot now. Strong stuff.
  • Wrecking Ball: Great version, especially excellent vocal work from Springsteen on this night.
  • The message and music of “Death To My Hometown” is unmistakable.

    Death To My Hometown (with Tom Morello): This song — especially with Morello helping out — deserves a high place in the Springsteen annals. Such a timely, powerful, populist message with amazing Irish folk tinging. Brilliant.

  • My City Of Ruins: I get what he’s looking to accomplish with the long version of this song in this spot, but it definitely slows the pace of the show. Though the old “Bruce and Steve Do Disneyland” story is always worth the great laughs it draws.
  • Spirit In The Night: Brilliant and sing-along worthy.
  • The E Street Shuffle: Fun choice. These past two got the groove completely back after the set had slowed a bit.
  • Long Time Comin’ (solo acoustic): From a fan’s request, this nugget from “Devils and Dust” was a revelation on this night. It’s always been an underrated song, but Bruce’s effort on this night lifted it higher.
  • Reason To Believe (roadhouse version): The Bo Diddley-style tracking on the blues version of this (first used extensively on the “Magic” tour) is fantastic.
  • This Depression (with Tom Morello): Great fit coming off of “Reason…”
  • Darkness On The Edge Of Town: You know how songs change meanings for you as you get older, but remain just as powerful — if not moreso? Yea. That.
  • Bad Luck (with Mike Ness): It’s always a crowd pleaser in SoCal when Bruce welcomes Ness. And the band just drilled this early ’90s Social D classic, as Bruce and Mike traded vocals.
  • Because The Night: A spotlight for Nils Lofgren’s soloing — and one he absolutely destroyed on this night.
  • Darlington County: A personal favorite from my teenage years. I always kind of feel like I’m having the best time in the room when I see this one live.
  • Shackled And Drawn: This new one kept the momentum going as the band seems to have taken to it well.
  • Waiting On A Sunny Day: I’d have never imagined this song becoming the staple it’s become. But it’s almost always a nice fit.
  • Raise Your Hand: Ah, harkening back to those first shows I saw in 1985.
  • Morello’s fireworks on “The Ghost Of Tom Joad” have become integral to the song’s power.

    The Ghost Of Tom Joad (with Tom Morello): I’m not afraid to say it: Morello has nearly risen to co-ownership of this song. I’ve seen his rousing guitar solo on it with the band many, many times. But it never fails to inspire awe.

  • Badlands (with Tom Morello): Coming off of “Tom Joad,” the crowd exploded with this one.
  • Thunder Road: To close the regular set, on this night, I couldn’t think of anything better.


  • Jungleland: It’s been 27 years and close to 20 shows now that I’ve been waiting for this. I missed seeing the Big Man do his epic solo, but dammit all if Jake Clemons didn’t do his uncle proud. The chance to finally see and hear this song performed live will go down as one of my 10 best personal moments of 2012, without question.
  • Born To Run: The band could have played just about anything here and my personal afterglow from “Jungleland” would have made it great. The fact that Bruce just dropped this four-song string on this crowd and capped it with “BTR” … insane.
  • Dancing In The Dark: It’s funny to think that this song was really on the outs for so long. It feels so great now.
  • Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town: Again, 27 years and another first timer. This is more understandable, as this is the first December Springsteen show I’ve seen. But with Bruce’s version being a personal holiday favorite since my early teen years, this one was sweet.
  • Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (with Tom Morello): “When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band …” Such a perfect celebration and rememberance. And a fitting finale, as usual.
Apr 28

A Quick Bruce Review

A set list and some quick notes for fans (apologies up front for the so-so photo quality – unretouched iPhone images!):

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band at the L.A. Sports Arena, April 27, 2012

  • For You (solo acoustic): Bringing a group of extended family members out for a look at the stage and to take a couple pictures shortly after 7:30, Bruce grabbed an acoustic guitar and played to a half-full house. A really special performance for the early comers.

    Bruce's surprise appearance on stage with family members ended with him performing "For You" to about 7,000 fans an hour before the regular set.

  • No Surrender: Surprise opener with the house lights up.
  • We Take Care Of Our Own: The band owns this song already.
  • Wrecking Ball: The best review I can give about these two excellent songs from “Wrecking Ball” between “No Surrender” and “Badlands” was that, looking back, there was no drop off or lull in energy or power from the band or fans. They fit into the oeuvre rather nicely.
  • Badlands: It never, EVER fails. “For the ones who had a notion, a notion deep inside, that it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive …”
  • Death To My Hometown (with Tom Morello): My favorite song on the new record boosted even higher with the appearance of Morello
  • My City Of Ruins: Wow, he’s really turned this one from somber to powerful.
  • Does This Bus Stop 82nd Street?: A nice surprise and a fun diversion.
  • Jack Of All Trades (with Tom Morello): What was I saying about somber?
  • Youngstown: Nils Lofgren absolutely killed his guitar solo. Killed.
  • Prove It All Night: Always a personal favorite.
  • Darkness On The Edge Of Town: Probably my favorite selection of the night, since it’sone of my top 10 Bruce songs of all time and not a set regular.
  • Easy Money: Bruce and Patti duetting. Good times.
  • Waiting On A Sunny Day: The super cute four-year old girl in the glasses and the headband/earplugs that she was not going to lose no matter what stole many hearts with her stage side singing with Bruce.
  • Apollo Medley (The Way You Do The Things You Do/834-5769): “You always have to have some soul in your pocket.” I’d say they have more than a pocketful.

    Springsteen drops backwards into the pit to begin his crowdsurf back to the stage during the "Apollo Medley."

  • Racing In The Street: I think they broke this song for me last night. There is no way I’ll ever see a better performance of it. If I believed in god, I’d say Roy Bittan had a little bit of him/her in his fingertips last night.
  • The Rising: This is how I choose to “Never Forget” 9/11.
  • Lonesome Day: The horn arrangement really brought some new life here.
  • We Are Alive: Bruce’s talk about needing one more song for “Wrecking Ball” and trying to find a way for the dead to speak to the living was poignant.
  • The Ghost Of Tom Joad (with Tom Morello): Though many of us have seen this combo of players and song before, Morello’s singing and soloing gets me every time.
  • Land Of Hope And Dreams (with Tom Morello): A reliable set closer.
  • Rocky Ground: While I love the idea behind this song, something has yet to connect with me. And, even after seeing it live, I’m still kind of stuck.
  • Bobby Jean: Loving the fact that this show was a little “Born In The USA” and “Darkness” heavy on the older stuff.
  • Born To Run: The crowd seemed especially into it on this night for some reason.
  • Dancing In The Dark: Bruce has done a great job taking this song and resurrecting it, to the dismay of some uptight superfans.

    Saluting the Big Man, Clarence Clemons.

  • Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (with Tom Morello): “When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band …” Two-plus minutes of standing ovation from the entire Sports Arena.