Bruce Shows Who's Boss

HAVING spent nearly four hours in his presence at AAMI Park on Sunday night, now I truly appreciate why he’s The Boss.

He – of course – being Bruce Springsteen. The one and only.

No-one else can put on a show like Springsteen and his mighty 18-piece E Street Band and for my first time seeing the legendary New Jersey native live, it didn’t disappoint.

From the show-opening synthesizer riff of “Born In The USA” – a song I can still recall hearing for the first time on cassette tape in our old white family Ford Falcon in the mid-80s - to when he played the last note of his closing solo acoustic version of “This Hard Land’’, Springsteen had the audience captivated for an extraordinary three hours and forty minutes.

That’s a 220-minute show – great on the ears, not so great on the feet, though.

How Springsteen – or Bruce “Sunscreen” as my daughter Sophie calls him – can still get up on stage night after night and perform shows of such length and with such energy is staggering.

After all, The Boss was born in the 1940s and is 64, but his music continues to resonate with the generations, whether it be his older tunes from the ’70s that were released solely on vinyl, to his latest album “High Hopes’’, now available in this modern world of technology via digital download.

The 40-plus year span of Springsteen’s career was evident in the scope of the crowd, from the grown men in their 50s and 60s who helped turn AAMI Park into one giant dance party during his biggest hit “Dancing in the Dark’’, to the two young primary school-aged sisters fortunate enough to share the stage with The Boss during the catchy “Waitin on a Sunny Day”.

The great thing about a Springsteen concert is the surprise element. You’ll never see the same set list twice. In his two shows in Melbourne at the weekend, he played 49 different songs.

We got 30 songs on the Sunday night spanning all four decades of Springsteen’s career, with the highlight being the full “Born To Run’’ album played from start to finish mid-show.

I’m more of a “Born In The USA” album man myself – he played that in full the night before – but the success of 1975’s “Born To Run’’ was pivotal to Springsteen going on to achieve his Boss status.

If not for "Born To Run" being the epic album it was, Springsteen may still be The Apprentice, rather than The Boss.

The song itself “Born To Run’’ whipped the crowd into a frenzy as the house lights shone down on the 30-odd thousand; “Thunder Road” is classic Springsteen at his best; while he saluted the past with a video tribute during “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out’’ of his long-time friend and former E Street Band saxophone player Clarence "Big Man" Clemons, who died in 2011.

The eight tracks off “Born To Run”, as well as another 1970s classic in “Badlands”, still sounded as fresh as when he first recorded them, while newly-released material like “High Hopes”, “Just Like Fire Would”, “Heaven’s Wall” and a reworked version of “The Ghost of Tom Joad” accompanied by a mesmerising Tom Morello guitar solo show there’s still plenty left in The Boss yet.

What a legend. What a spectacle. What a night.

Only The Boss could pull it off flawlessly.

SET LIST:

Born in the U.S.A.; Badlands; Lucky Town; Roulette; Growin' Up; Wrecking Ball; Death to My Hometown; High Hopes; Just Like Fire Would; Lost in the Flood; Spirit in the Night; Thunder Road; Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out; Night; Backstreets; Born to Run; She's the One; Meeting Across the River; Jungleland; Heaven's Wall; Waitin' on a Sunny Day; The Rising; The Ghost of Tom Joad; Land of Hope and Dreams; We Are Alive; Ramrod; Bobby Jean; Dancing in the Dark; Twist and Shout; This Hard Land. 

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