by / July 12th, 2009 /

Bruce Springsteen – RDS, Dublin

Bruce Springsteen is a legend: fact. Bruce Springsteen doesn’t do bad shows: fact. Bruce Springsteen loves Ireland: fact. All the history seems in his favour, but on the first of Springsteen’s two-night sojourn in Dublin, it’s mother nature herself that seem to have conspired against him. The blackest of rain-clouds broods over the city skyline, pelting down its wet misery with malignant abandon, while a bitterly cold wind whips around the RDS as we get closer to showtime. A voice over the tannoy requests punters to take down their umbrellas in the interests of those behind them. Few comply.

And yet when Springsteen and the E Street Band take to the stage at 8pm sharp, launching into Creedence Clearwater Revival’s -Who’ll Stop The Rain?’, the elements are immediately forgotten as a full house begins its ritual worship at the altar of Bruce, who follows up the tongue-in-cheek opener with the classic -Badlands’ and -Cover Me’.

Having somehow managed to survive for 35 years while remaining a Springsteen virgin, State initially wondered why large swathes of the audience were booing after each song – it took about 35 minutes to realise that they were in fact chanting the name of their hero. 10 minutes later, we found ourselves joyously joining in.

Seeing Springsteen live is a quasi-religious experience, augmented by the fact that the New Jersey’s most famous son could have been a bible-thumpin’ Pentecostal preacher, had the gods of rock -n’ roll not come calling. The power of his presence alone is capable of igniting the audience, yet when it’s combined with the legendary talents of musicians like Little Stevie Van Zandt, Nils Lofgren and Clarence Clemens and genuinely classic songs like -Born To Run’, -The River’ and his latest anthem of hope, -Working On A Dream’, it’s incendiary (the latter complete with a hilarious motivational speech eulogising, among other things, Irish girls, Guinness and Burdock’s fish & chips).

While much of his newer material, particularly -Outlaw Pete’ is extremely well received, it’s when he delves into the great American songbook that is his back catalogue that Springsteen really sets himself apart from every 59-year-old on the planet (he turns 60 this September). The familiar harmonica intro to -Thunder Road’ signals a raucous singalong, and is followed up with the cracking -Because The Night’, a hit for Patti Smith in 1978, as the clouds break over the RDS and a rainbow envelopes the stage – even mother nature has succumbed to the power of Springsteen. This epic double whammy is followed with -Waiting On A Sunny Day’, from The Rising, as the blue sky stretches over the arena and Bruce delves into the front rows, emerging wearing a hat (-donated’ by an audience member) that on anybody else would look ridiculous but he somehow manages to pull off.

By the final third, he has everyone, State included, eating out of his hand: even the die-hard indie kids beside us are shaking their skinny-jeans-clad booties to -Tenth Avenue Freeze Out’. The Celtic-tinged -American Land’ prompts mass breakouts of improvised set-dancing, while Bruce extols the virtues of the ‘Viagra-taking, earth shaking’ E Street Band, before the epic three-hour set finishes with -Dancing In The Dark’ and a cover of -Twist & Shout’, Springsteen abiding by the oft-held adage to -send them home sweating’. Having faced down Ireland’s inclement weather gods and given 40,000 Irish fans reason to smile, despite the economic forecast, this man really is The Boss.

Photograph: Paul Beattie Photography

  • Paul Beattie

    Nice pic! 🙂

  • Finbar Hoban


  • G

    It was my first time seeing Bruce and like John I taught the crowd were booing him! but infact it was “Bruuuuuce”! I felt sorry for the people queuing for days for pit passes when the organisers let everyone into the pit regardless of the arm bands!, It felt weird going up to the stewarts saying we want to go to our seats, we dont want to be here!! 😛 Excellent concert!! 3 Hour marathon and he didnt even need a bathroom break!! 😛 The last hour was the show stealer! “I” was even boogying!! If he just came on and played the last hour I would have still gone home humming “Born to Run” with a big smile!! 😀 oh and €5.50 a pint!! Nightclub prices or wot!! So organisers “BOOOOOO!!!!” and Bruce “BRUUUUUUCE!!” 🙂

  • As I tweeted afterwards, just WOW to Bruce. Second time i’ve seen him, and you can see why people make the pilgrimmage from all over the world. Last night’s gig was nothing short of amazing. Request hour is fantastic, the man is so talented, as is the band.

    The whole thing was a joy.

  • Clemmie

    The show was amazing, hats off to Bruce and the wonderful E Street Band. They always deliver the most fantastic shows and we certainly were not disappointed! Who cared about the rain once they hit the stage??? I suspect very few. Roll on the next time! The organisation at the RDS however was another matter! It was crap! We queued for hours for passes and then they didn’t open our gate for 30 mins and by the time we got in they were all gone! It was chaotic! So Bruce, any chance of you playing somewhere else the next time you’re here??? Hope it won’t be too long!!!

  • B.A.

    good show but i was disappointed he didn’t play more oldies

  • martina/ciaran

    hi Everyone last nights show was the best I have ever been to,for me winning the lotto would not compare to it (o I Forgot I cold buy more concert tickets and go to more shows,now theres an idea}it was just so mind blowing,he really is the boss.Myself and my husband throughly enjoyed the show and will be going to a lot more in the future .
    Rock on bruce you truly are the best and the E street band are the hardest working band in the world.Ye are Magic.X

  • bob

    Bruce. I LOOOVE YOU!!!

    Bruce. Are you there Bruce? Come back Bruce.

  • BronaghLOVESbruce

    Bruce Springsteen is an absolute legend! No words could possibly describe that man’s sheer talent and enthusiasm!And the E-Street Band are truly heart stopping, earth shaking heroes! Bring on the next gig!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • alison

    absolutley mind blowing certainley would do things for my hormones the sexiest man alive can he move …. seen him 4 times defnitley the best concert ever eventhough i lost my husband half way through but who cares i had his face to look at that is bruce…..great playlist hope it comes out on dvd hope to see him soon again in a different venue .rock on…rds would waant to improve on ladies toilets…

  • Dara Cummins

    I saw Brice Springsteen in the RDS in Dublin on Sunday 12th July 2009 What a gig, what a concert, what a show. To describe him as a legend seems too small – the man, and band, are pure perfection. One of the highlights of the Sunday night was when Brice allowed a little girl sing one of his songs – what a memory to carry for the rest of your life. In short if you haven’t seen Bruce Springsteen live you are missing out on an experience of a lifetime.

  • After publishing “For You,” the wonderful collection of fan stories and photographs spanning Bruce Springsteen’s career, author Lawrence Kirsch once again has thrown open the door and invited fans to share perspectives for a new book exclusively devoted to Darkness on the Edge of Town and the subsequent 1978 tour.

  • First of all, it is Ireland, of course there will be rain!!
    And secondly, no rain can stop Springsteen from respecting the commitment to his audience. At this point I am thinking about the Mexico concert of Britney Spears, when she left the stage for good as soon as the rain began to fall.

  • Suzy Q

    I too was a Springteen virgin but what a night, I was enthralled by the mans enthusiasm his and the bands talent they just wow’d the crowd took us all on an emotional journey kept us rockin and never wantin to leave HE is The Boss and now I know why Savin me cash for another concert

  • Tomas

    My wife and I went to the Sunday evening concert. It was absolutely fantastic, nothing short of it. I’ve never seen such raw energy on stage. The memory will stay with me for the rest of my life. I hope Bruce will come our way again soon, but you would have to imagine that we won’t get too many more opportunities to see him, the big man, and the great E Street. Lots of pretenders doing the rounds, but you have to achieve what Bruce has achieved, and you have to last the test of time to earn the respect that he has – he deserves all of it and more. He is a giant of a man.

  • Lynne

    Bruce is the best performer ever. Have only seen him once before about 17 years ago. Hope he comes back, would love to be up at the front and be able to touch him! He really interacts with the crowd. Love you Bruce, please come up to Belfast again, and do 10 shows as the tickets sell out sooo fast!! xxx

  • Helen


    The one problem I had with the concert was that I couldn’t see the stage or anybody on it all, the screens were not working on Sunday night so it was a bit annoying. I do love Bruce, he is a fantastic performer but I would like to be able to see him. The sound system in the middle of the pitch did not help matters either.

    They could have done with raising the stage a lot higher for us at the back

  • maryo

    3rd time to see the BOSS and he really is T H E B O S S. Loved you Bruce! Only one problem – have never really got to see him because of my 5ft height. Only get to see him sometimes when he flashes up on the screen. Maybe next time Bruce will have a spot on the stage for me…..I might even get to touch him then!! (Wishful thinkin’!) When you comin’ back so that I can ‘hear’ you again??

  • jon

    he is the man! loved his born to run album , this review sums it up well i think