Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – RDS, Dublin – 23rd May
Certain things go through your mind while standing at the back of the RDS at your first Bruce Springsteen gig. Is that really Danny Devito and Ben Stiller playing guitar? Why are these people in rugby shirts taking pictures of themselves instead of watching the gig? As for Bruce himself….erm…is that it? It’s hard to approach your virgin Springsteen show with any other expectation than it is going to be an experience of biblical proportions, well because that’s what everybody says. That’s a lot for a mere gig to live up to and, shifting from foot to foot surrounded by people in rugby shirts taking pictures of each other, you have to say that it falls short.
As a causal Springsteen observer, and one not massively taken with the new Magic album either, it all passes us by and is – so help us God – just a bit dull. As it turns out, such heresy proves to be the making of the night, that and deciding to actually try and get near the stage. Once close enough that the screens become an enhancement rather than a necessity and amongst more of the Springsteen faithful, it all begins to make sense. The man himself is amazing, spending as much time down amongst the front rows as he does working the sides and back of the stadium. In the hands of others, such actions may seemed forced and clichÃ©d, but here it feels utterly natural. His voice is strong and forceful too and when he gives his only political speech of the night to preface ‘Livin’ In The Future’, passionate as hell.
And yes, the E Street Band are everything everyone says they are, the unsung hero Nils Lofgren quietly doing his thing while Steve Van Zandt mugs it up at every opportunity. ‘Mary’s Place’ is the moment that lifts the show, just as dusk begins to turn into night. The comparatively lightweight newie ‘Girls In Their Summer Clothes’ (Springsteen by numbers, let’s face it) keeps the party vibe flowing, before ‘The Rising’ and ‘Badlands’ fill the whole arena. To be fair, a show this size is never going to have the life changing intensity of the Point or, let’s be greedy, Vicar St but as an epic ‘Jungleland’ segues into a roaring ‘Born To Run’ even we, the ones who were doubting this just two hours ago, realise that this is probably as good as it can ever get and, yes, we have had our own personal epiphany. Mass is finished, go in peace.
Photo by Backstreets.com