Saturday, June 15, 2013

43 Is an Astonishing One

I hope to see many amazing things on this multi-city trip, and I already have. Great art, great theater, beautiful buildings, a festive public appearance by the Royal Family and really, just London as a whole.

But the impetus for taking this trip at this time--which if nothing else required an extra 20,000 frequent flyer miles and likely some higher lodging rates--was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band  playing at London's famed (albeit rebuilt) Wembley Stadium.

Although The Boss has been amazing the previous 42 times I've seen him, especially with his erstwhile band, I had never seen him outside the United States. And the truth is, he's even bigger in Europe these days than he is back home (except for on his true home turf of New Jersey & New York).

Without wanting to diminish how great he's been at past shows, or rank this the very best, Springsteen was once again every bit as good as I could have hoped.

It wasn't just the setting, which outranks most but perhaps wasn't quite as cool as Wrigley Field, Giants Stadium, Madison Square Garden or Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, where I seen highly memorable E Street Band shows.

From the get-go, the Wembley setlist was a wild card. After opening with "Land of Hope and Dreams," which used to close shows or come late, he tore into relative rarities like "Jackson Cage" and "Radio Nowhere," before obliging several requests-by-sign.

This is standard, but usually comes mid-show. But early on, he played "Save My Love," "Rosalita," "This Hard Land" and "Lost in the Flood." I don't know that he's ever opted for "Rosie" so early in the show (which largely took place before the sun went down).

After a couple songs off Wrecking Ball, including the title cut and "Death to My Hometown," he gave the crowd the choice of "more requests" or the Darkness on the Edge of Town album in full.

Wisely, we chose the latter, and along with staples like "Badlands" and "The Promised Land," it was great to hear songs like "Racing in the Streets" get glorious renditions.

After rollicking encores including "Born to Run," "Dancing in the Dark" and "Tenth Avenue Freezeout," Bruce closed things with a solo acoustic "Thunder Road."

Especially as Wembley had an echo, this was a particularly beautiful way to end the night.

And we all went home happy. Or at least to our hotel, with the next part of my journey awaiting in the morning.

But once again thrilled with the Boss.

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