On the very day that a friend announced he’s off to seek a better life in the Land of Opportunity, the RDS is bulging with a positivity and can-do attitude that could only be imported from the US. This is good news for everyone stuck here and getting sick of bad news. One of that country’s most cherished sons, its great healer and all-round daddy of rock ‘n’ roll Bruce Springsteen is bludgeoning the phantoms of Brian Dobson and Joe Duffy for the second night in a row with sixteen talented mates. Even Gerry Adams has turned up to cop some good vibes.
Despite initial Wednesday-night cobwebs among the capacity crowd, tonight goes according to plan. Springsteen and his E Street Band can carry on with all the blue-collar humility they like but on these shores, they’re bigger than Jesus and you immediately understand why. Generous to a fault and possessed of a near-manic energy that belies his 63 years, the man is a spectacle in himself. There he is treating his mic stand like a stripper’s pole. That’s him bashing his head against piano keys during ‘Seven Nights To Rock’.
Just watching, you’re almost out of breath. He’s only wrapping up ‘Death To My Hometown’’s Celtic stomp when he’s yelping “1,2,3,4…” to get something else going. He wants everyone operating at his BPM, and this Olympian work rate comes with a bossiness that’s tough to resist. Even the sun falls in line with everyone else when he barks “C’mon!”, bursting out from behind months of cloudcover during ‘Badlands’ for what feels like the first time in memory. Gerry Adams also appears helpless.
There’s always something to marvel at. A young boy elicits a sea of “awwws” and cheers when the big man plucks him from the pit to sing the refrain from ‘Waitin’ On A Sunny Day’. The tyke is hoisted up triumphantly by the Chief and every dad in Ballsbridge goes green with envy. Elsewhere, Steve Van Zandt, all lips and shoulders, is flicking the bird while holding up a sign saying “what’s a curfew?”. A girl pleads to be allowed dance with saxophonist Jake Clemons (nephew of the late, great Clarence) during ‘Dancing In The Dark’’s rich outro, and she gets her way. That blur stage-left is Nils Lofgren wheeling around and soloing furiously through the middle eight of ‘Because The Night’. Springsteen is accompanied by nothing but a piano and a glorious sunset for ‘The Promise’.
It just feels like a whole lot more than some rich arse descending from his mansion to flog us a new record. Pushing 11pm, the Pogues-ish rock ‘n’ reel of ‘American Land’ has incited a final farewell céilí in the pit. That its lyrics depict the very circumstances my friend now finds himself in is not lost on me. Bruce slaps each and every E Street back as they walk off, like a good-time drill sergeant, and flashes one final muscular grin. The American Dream? We’re looking at it.
Photo: Paulo Goncalves