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Review: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, August 2, 2008
Foxboro, Mass – Gillette Stadium

By Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter 8/2008

Set list: Summertime Blues / Tenth Avenue Freeze-out / Radio Nowhere / Lonesome Day / The Promised Land / Spirit in the Night / Tunnel of Love / Little Latin Lupe Lu / Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street? / Hungry Heart / Who’ll Stop the Rain / Youngstown / Murder Incorporated / She’s the One / Livin’ in the Future / Mary’s Place / The Rising / Last to Die / Long Walk Home / Badlands

Encore: I’m Goin’ Down / Jungleland / Born to Run / Glory Days / Dancing in the Dark / American Land / Rosalita

Five years to the day Bruce Springsteen last played Gillette Stadium here in Foxboro, the Boss returned for a high-octane, high energy train ride that maintained an incredible level of energy, quality sound, and fun for the next two and a half hours. Of the 19 Springsteen shows I have seen, tonight was easily one of the most intense, energetic, tight, perfect shows ever.

The show began with blue and white fireworks — the natural kind. Intense lightning, loud thunder, and a torrential downpour opened up around 8, and it was surreal hearing 50,000+ people reacting to lightning strikes and thunder. After delaying the start until 9:20, there was no rain for the entirety of the show — except for the dreamlike water running off the stage roof into the pit!

The Calliope started playing, the house lights went down, and to roaring applause the E Street Band came on stage. As Bruce walked on stage with Clarence, he was smiling, he looked rested and happy, and then he RIPPED into Summertime Blues. It was clear from the first notes that this would be a great show.

“This is a New Jersey fairy tale,” Springsteen told us and broke into the story of the band, 10th Avenue Freeze Out. Incredible audience tonight. The sound was FANTASTIC. All night, there was a heavy emphasis on drums and guitars. Springsteen’s vocals were exceptional.

Radio Nowhere – This “Magic Tour” staple sounded MUCH better than in Jersey — in fact, Springsteen’s vocals sounded better all night. I noticed that Mighty Max, the drummer, looked a little tired, but he was playing his “A” game all night.

Springsteen Foxboro 2008
Credit – Alan Chitlik – Backstreets.com

Lonesome Day – VERY well received by the crowd.

The Promised Land came next. Springsteen relied very little on any sort of visual effects, this track just featured clouds against a blue sky. There were constant visual cuts on the diamond vision screen to the audience all night; here a woman was crying. Every view of someone in the audience showed them mouthing the words or just staring at their idol. Everyone seemed enraptured.

Next up, Spirits in the Night with Bruce again playing very close to the audience (he did this all night), shaking hands, singing next to people, smiling. I was happy to see so many in the crowd knew this one from the 1970s.

The new arrangement of Tunnel of Love isn’t really too different than previous live versions except there’s no “carnival” preamble, just heavy drums and a burst into this one. Patti’s vocals were particularly good. Patti is so lovely, and smiles so much all night.

Next up, per the new concert tradition, were the hand-written requests. Bruce began collecting signs — “Let’s see what you got…” “Give me that…” “Maybe, maybe, maybe…” Then he paused —

“The band will not be ready for this one… oh, they will NOT be ready!” He gave an evil laugh. The sign read, “Key of F” and was called Little Latin Lupe Lu, a tune going back well over 30 years and one the band’s done a couple of times since the 1970s. The sign read, “Flip for lyrics, thanks, Boss,” with complete lyrics on the reverse. “That’s appreciated!” Bruce laughed. The band nailed this obscure classic, and I was blown away that E Street can just pick up and play something so old so spontaneously and professionally.

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Credit – Alan Chitlik – Backstreets.com

Another request — the classic track from Springsteen’s first album (1973), Does this bus stop at 82nd Street — complete with a picture of a bus. This one was full-blown and fantastic!

An orange sign said, Hungry Heart and by tradition the crowd sang the first verse. This tradition goes all the way back to the November 20, 1980 show in Chicago’s Rosemont Horizon, when the audience sang the lyrics back to the band during this intro. Since then, Springsteen always lets the audience sing the first verse and chorus.

Bruce walked to our side of the stage. “Go!” Susan said! We’re only 19 rows back. So close… So close… Just want to shake your hand… But he moved away.
Dream, baby dream.

Next up was one Springsteen said was for “The Coach.” He did not mention Bill Belichick by name but added, “He’s here tonight… He didn’t bring a sign.” The song was Who’ll Stop the Rain, written by John Fogerty for Credence Clearwater Revival. Great tune, and it helped keep the rain away. Well, after all, the new album IS called, “Magic!”

I was feeling so happy at this point — true joy. I love this guy!
Youngstown was next, the story of the steel workers (and so many others) “who helped win this country’s wars” but have now been forgotten. Having Springsteen lit up in harsh red works here — evoking the lyrics of the furnaces and “fires of hell.” This one went on for some time as Nils, Steve and Bruce competed in impressive guitar solos.

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Credit – Alan Chitlik – Backstreets.com

Murder Incorporated, to use a pun, KILLED. Clarence is probably one of the best sax players on the planet. More dueling guitar from Nils — he’s a phenomenal guitar player.

Another classic was next, She’s the One, featuring smoking harmonica, a full-blast performance, and scorching guitar. A stellar version.

The “Magic” track Living in the Future was next, as Bruce explained that the song was really about that’s going on right now — rendition, illegal wire-tapping, rolling back fundamental civil rights, and attacks on the constitution. “It’s about sleeping through changes.” He compared it to parents soothing their children at night saying it’s all going to be OK, but the song is about what SHOULDN’T be happening in the United States.

The “House Party” song, “Mary’s place was a lot of fun and just amazing. LOTS of crowd shots, with the audience faces clearly idolizing Springsteen.

Great response to The Rising, and the screen showed red flames as Springsteen sang the poignant lyrics of the 9/11 firefighter as he climbs the stairs of
the WTC.

I’ve been rather flip about Springsteen’s next tune, Last to Die, because it’s just so in-your-face about Bruce’s feelings about the war, echoing John Kerry’s “Who’ll be the last to die for a mistake?” (Springsteen supported Kerry in 04 and Obama this year). But I gave the one another listen this evening and thought that maybe subtly isn’t working — maybe we need “Last to Die” to remind us what’s going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The long walk home is just a perfect story. LOVED it.

Badlands followed; quintessential Springsteen but I feel overplayed. Still great; I just yearn for something else.

After a minute or two, the encores began, with Bruce kissing wife Patti as they returned to the stage.

Bruce began by thanking everyone for coming out tonight, and apologizing for the rain. He told the crowd, “We were dodging lightning bolts coming up here for about an hour and a half!”

Interestingly, Springsteen began asking for request signs again — he usually doesn’t do that for the encores — and chose one he described as, “rarely played and even more rarely requested…” and broke into the BITUSA classic, I’m going down, the story of a relationship gone cold.

Sue and I thought it was perfect for the couple in front of us — all night, we’d witnessed the girl being a cold hearted monster toward her boyfriend / fiancée / husband as he tried to kiss her and be nice to her. She was looking at him the way you regard something under the sink and kept hitting him, hard.

Hey, guy in A2-18-18 — Run while you can! She’ll walk over you the rest of your life unless you stand up for yourself!

That public service message aside,the next request sign said, “It’s my birthday (yesterday) Jungleland please!” and the version played just shook Gillette. Jungleland, from the BTR album, is an iconic Springsteen story and was delivered so perfectly, up to Clarence’s melancholy sax at the end. Gorgeous.

Springsteen next played Born to Run, followed by a sensational version of “Glory Days. There are many artists who just sound terrible live {cough, Madonna, cough} but Springsteen LIVE is nearly always superior to Springsteen in the studio. Glory Days is another example of a “fun” song from BITUSA that just explodes live and turns into a party. Awesome. As usual, Steve and Bruce played the “I think it’s quitting time” bit, with Steve telling everyone they’re in BOSS-TOWN!

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Credit – Alan Chitlik – Backstreets.com

This flowed right into Dancing in the Dark. Like Glory Days, dismiss your memories of the album or video with Courtney Cox; on stage, “Dancing” becomes a party.

“Do we have any Irishmen out there?” and the crowd went nuts as the penultimate tune was the Celtic-flavored, American Land, (with the words on screen this time), a great and fun song celebration the contribution of immigrants who came here (that would be all of us) in search of streets of gold and beer flowing from the taps, and a celebration of their hard work.

Since the show began with a “New Jersey fairy tale,” Springsteen ended with one — the iconic Rosalita. It was note-perfect.

Bruce thanked us again and announced that we’d “Just got rocked hard by the house-rocking, pants dropping, brain-shocking, earth-quaking, booty-shaking, Viagra-taking, lovemaking, sexifying, electrifying legendary E Street Band!” And the crowd went bonkers!

As Springsteen’s motorcade passed my house on Beach Street at 1:10am, the fan boy in me wanted to jump out, wave and scream thank you — the adult overruled and I just thought how cool it was that the Boss was passing my house.

May I add one item to my hometown Foxboro town officials — PLEASE do not penalize the band financially for running over the 11:00 curfew — given the horrific, dangerous rain and lightning, the decision to wait until 9:30 was prudent and a 90 minute show would have been unfair to everyone. Springsteen, his management and everyone involved made the right call delaying the show for safety reasons.

Finally, may I say that August 2, 2008 Gillette was easily one of the best, most energetic, and happy and dare I say.. Perfect of the 19 Springsteen shows I’ve seen since 1985. Bruce, thanks for another fantastic experience!

 

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