Sunday, April 9, 2000

In Concert: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

image from

Venue: Kemper Arena; Kansas City, MO

The Set List: *

1. Take 'Em As They Come
2. The Promised Land 4
3. Two Hearts 5
4. Darkness on the Edge of Town 4
5. Darlington County 7
6. Factory 4
7. The River 5
8. Youngstown 11
9. Murder Inc.
10. Badlands 4
11. Out in the Street 5
12. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out 3
13. Downbound Train 7
14. Candy’s Room 4
15. The Ghost of Tom Joad 11
16. Racing in the Street 4
17. Light of Day
18. Ramrod 5
19. Bobby Jean 7
20. Born to Run 3
21. Thunder Road 3
22. If I Should Fall Behind 10
23. Land of Hope and Dreams

* Numbers refer to the studio album which first featured the song.

Prepare yourselves – this is as anal as it gets when it comes to details you probably don’t really need to know. It’s rare that I get any chance to share my useless knowledge of music trivia, though, and the occasion of a Springsteen concert comes as close as I can probably get to justifying my torture of others with such knowledge.

So, let’s tackle the set list based on his album releases.

1 Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ (1973)

2 The Wild, the Innocent, & the E Street Shuffle (1973)

Alas, Bruce played NOTHING from his first two albums. I wouldn’t have minded seeing “Blinded by the Light,” “For You,” or “Spirit in the Night” off his first album. Those have all been made much better known as Manfred Mann songs. I’d have loved to see Bruce steal ‘em back.

3 Born to Run (1975): Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out was arguably the most rocking point of the evening. Bruce certainly got the crowd revved up, though. It also worked well to do an extended jam and band introductions in conjunction with this song. Of course he played Born to Run. What a shocker. Who would ever guess he would’ve played this? Of course everyone knows this as Bruce’s classic – rock lists, especially album-rock stations like KY, often put this song in their top 10 lists of all-time. However, from the standpoint of commercial success, this song only reached #23 on the pop charts. Amazingly, he had sixteen songs which were more successful on the charts and he played NONE of them! Not many artists could pull that off and still put on such a great show.

4 Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978): Bruce tackled six cuts from Darkness on the Edge of Town. I was surprised to see that album so heavily represented. It was a shame he completely ignored FIVE of his studio albums in placing so much emphasis on this album. Badlands was a rocking song, but not one of my favorites. Good choice for a live performance, though. He also tackled the title cut, which I really like, so I was glad to see it. Racing in the Street was another gem. Between this, “The River,” “Thunder Road,” “If I Should Fall Behind” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” I totally got my money’s worth.

5 The River (1980): Two Hearts is not one of my favorite cuts from The River. Just a plain ol’ rocker. However, the title cut was my personal highlight of the evening. At the risk of revealing a bit too much sentimentality, I was actually in tears at this one. It was absolutely gorgeous with that long sax solo, harmonica solo, and Bruce’s powerful vocal. I recognized Out in the Street when he played it, but couldn’t remember what album it was on. I never got into The River album very much. I’ll listen to it more now. Take 'Em As They Come, the opener, was on the 1998 box set of never-released material that spanned his entire career, but was recorded in 1980. I was surprised he kicked off with a fairly unknown tune.

6 Nebraska (1982): Come on! Nothing? Not even “Atlantic City”?

7 Born in the U.S.A. (1984): Darlington County was the first of three Born in the U.S.A. songs. Amazing, Bruce completely avoided the 7 top 10 hits from that album. I must say, I didn’t mind, but was quite surprised at how much he avoided the hit material from that album. I would have loved to hear a stripped down, slow version of “Born in the U.S.A.” I have such an animal from a 1996 EP that is absolutely beautiful. I love Bobby Jean. I read recently that this song isn’t really about a long-lost love, but about when Steve Van Zant first left the E Street Band. It puts the song in a new context. He also tackled Murder Inc., which first appeared on the 1995 Greatest Hits, but dates back to the Born in the U.S.A. days. I didn’t expect this, but it definitely was a good choice.

8 Tunnel of Love (1988): Sigh. Another album completely overlooked.

Light of Day (1987) was originally recorded by The Barbusters (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts) in that classic, memorable 1987 film of the same name starring Joan Jett and Michael J. Fox. (Then again, aren’t all of Fox’s screen moments classics – think Teen Wolf, Casualties of War, Greed, The Frighteners, Bright Lights Big City, etc.)

9 Human Touch (1992): Nothing.

10 Lucky Town (1992): An incredible version of If I Should Fall Behind with Patti Scalfia, Clarence Clemons, Nils Lofgren, and Little Stevie Van Zant all taking turns on vocals. I loved it! It blew away the original album version!

11 The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995): I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple cuts off this album. Then again, it’s the last studio album he recorded (time for new material, Bruce!). The original version of Youngstown was the hardest-rocking song on from that album, but was still very stripped-down and acoustic in the original version. I really liked the harder-rocking live version.

Well, there you have it - far more detail than you could have possibly wanted. I loved the concert, though, and wasn’t quite ready to move on. While I’ve been typing, I’ve “relived” the concert by playing all the album versions of the songs in order (other than the couple that I can’t identify). Not quite the same, but it’s O.K. Bruuuuuuce!