Review by Robert Gillis

Dunkin Donuts Center — the former Providence Civic Center — isn’t as big as the Fleet Center so there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Our seats put us right of the stage about half way up — not bad at all.

Springsteen looks a little haggard — the man is older, of course but still puts on one hell of a show. Instead of the four and a half hour shows of the eighties, he still does a three-hour show with no break. The entire E Street band was present, except for Patti who has a cold. Maybe Springsteen is also getting a cold — while the show was over three hours long, Springsteen didn’t do the usual amount of running around, preferring to walk a lot as he moved about the stage.

The show exploded open with War. Sue’s friend asked, “Think Springsteen is trying to send a message?” Next came The rising which is TERRIFIC life. Soozie Tyrell provided replacement vocals for Patti as well as violin. The Rising is powerful anyway and is positively uplifting live.

The band then jumped right into Lonesome day which is one of my very favorites from the new CD, and is also terrific live. The crowd went insane as Springsteen brought out a classic, Night from the Born to Run CD. I’ve never heard this one live and it was incredible. The crowd was still reeling from this as he brought out another gem, Candy’s room .

The fuse is also very powerful; this is a song that’s incredible live. Lots of applause for the lines, “quiet afternoon, an empty house / On the edge of your bed you slip off your blouse.” The lights came up and Springsteen said hello to Providence. “I guess we’re here in this old building … The Dunkin Donuts Center … They should give it a better name, like Providence Civic Center!” (This brought lots of applause. Springsteen then lamented that it’s the way it is today with names, and Florida will soon be renamed, “Hooters.”

He turned serious and explained that Patty is home very sick (“Or sick of me,” Springsteen quipped with a silly grin.) He dedicated and Empty sky and You’re missing to Patti, singing both acoustic and clearly missing his wife.

Next came Waiting on a sunny day and which I’ve always felt was a sort of throwaway song, although Springsteen was obviously having fun, reaching out to shake hands with the crowd and snagging a cap which he wore for a bit. This was followed by a PHENOMINAL live Spirit in the night and the crowd went bonkers! I’ve also never seen this one live and it did not disappoint. The crowd was clearly long-time Springsteen fans; they all knew the words.

Worlds apart has always been a favorite. The house lights came up and Springsteen started Badlands! Next came another wonderful blast from the past — Out in the street! During a breezy Mary’s place Springsteen introduced the band, “the greatest house band in the land!” with the usual flourish, cuddling next to Patti’s empty microphone. Next up was Thunder road and Counting on a miracle. Although Springsteen is well known for his keyboards, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play keyboard while singing on stage, but tonight he sat at Roy’s piano and sang a touching acoustic If I should fall behind and a full blown out Into the fire.

After only a few minutes, the first encore began. Bruce reminded everyone that his band also began playing in small bars and clubs, the local places where they could play for family and friends — he talked about the tragic fire at the Station Nightclub and said that there were people taking donations to help the families with short-term needs. He then dedicated a full-blown, beautiful Bobby Jean that was just amazing, followed by the jubilant Ramrod and right into Born to run.

I would have been happy if that was it, but Bruce was soon back for more, again talking to the crowd about local food banks and the Station, and he then played a beautiful My city of ruins. An interesting moment followed as he talked about writing the next song back in the eighties and hoped not to sing about wars anymore, he asked for prayers for our sons and daughters innocent Iraqi civilians and said, “Add my name to votes again the War in Iraq.” No one booed, but no one cheered or applauded. There was just a quiet moment as Springsteen broke into Born in the USA, which seemed a little inappropriate this time — the country is so very divided about the upcoming war.

Finally, he did Land of hope and dreams, one of the best songs of recent years. We all thought that was it, but Clarence, Steve and Bruce egged the crowd on to cheer, and they keep looking at each other as if to say, ‘What do you think? One more?” They hammed it up and finally got the cheers they wanted, and played Dancing in the dark and then Max presented his drumsticks to two fans, and the band took its bows. Man, I’ve missed Bruce. So happy — so very happy to see him in concert again!

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