A new Bruce + E Street Band tour finally, yes! I need tickets for more than one show, and so let's start with some German shows as their tickets are so easy to get and it is normally quite cheap to fly there from Finland.
I arrived at Frankfurt on previous day (Thursday), and went to see the stadium immediately after checking in to my hotel. I remembered from 2009 that the layout of the stadium area is kind of interesting with randomly placed gates very far from each others. I started at the gate 1 and walked all around the huge fenced area, and finally ended up at gate 5, where I found the pit line. Although I had just Innenraum ticket and no FOS, I got a little carried away and got a number (36, wow what a number!) anyway. I chatted a little with some Swedes I knew and then took a tram back to the city center.
About the German ticket system: This year some European countries including Germany don't have just plain GA tickets, but have both "Front of Stage" (FOS, pit) tickets and "normal GA" (Innenraum, standing, stehplatz) tickets. FOS tickets are little more expensive, and you can get to the pit only with them. As I had just the Innenraum for Frankfurt, I had no possibility to enter the pit but my place will be somewhere behind the pit fence.
We had a Finn meeting in the city later that day and then me and some guys (Ooke, Erkko + Mika) headed back to the last pit line roll call of that night. Sun had already set and the quickest way from the tram to the gate 5 went through a pitch black forest. In the middle of the forest the guys started worrying that I'm taking them to a broker to trade their kidneys for a FOS ticket, but although that actually sounded like good idea to me, we all ended up to the right gate alive.
Next day included more roll calls in the morning until I gave up and decided that I'm not going to be able to find a FOS ticket for me. After that me and some Germans started the line for GA at gate 2, situated at totally opposite end of the stadium area and with very little info how to find it. There was some language barrier (they didn't speak a word of English and my German is very, very rusty) but we managed decide some "rules" for our line and started a numbered name list. Anyway, we gave up following any rules soon and just ended up hanging together and killing time on a very hot and a very sunny Friday.
Finally, the gates were opened and folks run to the stadium. After some shuffling me and four other Finns ended up very close to the GA fence behind the pit, sat down and started waiting for the showtime. Luckily high stadium walls and ceiling over the seats now covered sun, but some folks have already gotten sunburns and some others had obviously used the beer stands too eagerly.
Then, finally little over half an hour after the listed showtime, Badlands! Yes, that's a good and strong opener although not a surprise as it has started so many shows during this tour. Then we get the expected songs from the new album, We Take Care of Our Own and Wrecking Ball.
This was my first time ever NOT in the pit in a Bruce show, so I got a good view of all of the stage. So this is the new line-up for ESB. Horns back left like in all YouTube clips I had seen, Curtis, Cindy and Everett the percussionist back right, Soozie in Clarence's place and Garry in front. No Patti tonight. The stage looks so huge, as this is a big stadium. Three proper catwalks and two short ones at the far ends, just like in 2009.
The next song is Out in the Street, one of my live favourites and that was my guess when we played "which song will be the opener?" game before th show. It is followed by Death To My Hometown and then we get My City of Ruins, with the first "let's remember the missing ones" moment. When listening to the Apollo tape, I had been sure that I would start bawling at this moment but as I had heard this part so many times, it was kind of too familiar and the audience didn't exactly seem know how they were supposed to react to that "If you are here and we're here, then they are here" chant. So no tears, yet (except during Badlands, but that doesn't count as it was Badlands.)
The show rolls on, and now Bruce starts feeling the spirit. He goes into a preaching mode and tells the band to go to A minor and to "choir" to answer "ooh yeah" in the right places, and then makes us remember 1973 ("No, not you, you were just a baby and not you either, you weren't even born!") before starting Spirit in the Night. Like normally, he goes from one catwalk to another and lets the audience touch him. When he lies on his belly on top of a group of fans and just keeps singing with folks waving their request papers all around him, someone shoves a cell phone right to his face. Bruce grabs it, gets back up and keeps the phone on his ear while singing. He is now looking straight at a camera instad of audience, and he looks kinda angry - that's not a normal Spirit face? After some verses like this, he starts walking and just throws the phone over his shoulder. That was super hilarious and the audience really explodes at this point! And from now on the show seems to be on another gear, and keeps on picking speed. Hey, now I start to feel the spirit too! (Note: never let Bruce borrow your cell phone. That's just not safe.)
E Street Shuffle helps us to keep the spirit high, that's one helluva dance tune! Jack of all Trades makes the audience listen, and Bruce's slow banging of that marching drum in the end somehow make the song to feel important and serious. Angry mode continues, now we get a full band Youngstown. Nils gets the end solo after those "fiery furnaces of HELLLL" and uh huh, that man really got possessed right now! Gee, look at that swirling and jumping, that solo sure comes from somewhere deep down under. The solo just keeps on going and getting wilder while Bruce towers over Nils with a somber face. This is actually frightening.
Hey, what's this intro? Oh, it is my very first ever Darkness on the Edge of Town, the song at the very top of my "need to hear" list. YES! And then swinging Johnny 99, now I have to dance again! Train whistles again in the end. Bruce gets an acoustic guitar and starts Working on the Highway. Shackled and Drawn follows, and Bruce really can walk like he was shackled and dragging a heavy ball and chain. Nice to hear so many of these new songs live!
Then we get Waiting on a Sunny Day. The chosen kids, a boy and a girl, sang very well and the little boy bravely shouted "C'mon E Street Band!" just at a right moment. After giving the kids back, Bruce grabs a request and shouts "Take it, Max" and Max starts pounding drums. It's Summertime Blues! Such a suitable song for this hot night! ESB hasn't done it yet without Clarence, and Bruce has to tell Steve to do the speaking parts. Then we all can believe in The Promised Land, and then Bruce takes us to The River. Oh, so beautiful like always. The Rising and Lonesome Day followed, like normally, and then We Are Alive.
The main set was ended with Thunder Road. Yes, I've heard it several times earlier and yes, it is always beautiful, but for some reason this time I remembered a certain car ride few years ago, I remembered just where I was and what I thought when I put BTR in the player and listened to this song. This was a total flood gates open moment for me, especially after Bruce shouted to Ed Manion something like "play it like the Big Man".
The lights were down for a minute or so while the audience clapped and sang that Badlands theme wo-ho-ho-HO-ho, but the band never left the stage before the encores started, and naturally with Rocky Ground. Gee, that Michelle Moore really can SING! After it, Bruce counts and could it be... yes, Born in the USA! Not with that strong start this time, but it was ok later on. They did this in the sound check, so it was not such a big surprise. But the audience really SINGS! Then a very energetic Born to Run, and isn't it now nearly a time to do the final songs, although I could take something more. Especially as Bruce seems to be on fire, running and jumping even when it isn't exactly necessary?
YESS, this is Cadillac Ranch! Yes, this is good! Anything fast, funny and non-expected is good in encores! Bruce calls Garry, Steve, Jake and Nils to the front of the stage and they all do that little cadillac coreography by stepping up and down and waving their instruments at the end of the song. I just love this! Back to normal routine then? Noo-o, Bruce picks yet another request and now we hear Sherry Darling! Just like in Helsinki 2008, this is going to be a long show with extra numbers in the set list, yes! Now Glory Days! Oh, what a set list! This is what a a summer show is supposed to be!
Now Bruce does that fainting schtick and Steve revives him by pouring water on him, and the normal "Isn't it a time to stop, to go to the hotel and get good German beer and a cheeseburger" routine is done. After they "decide" to play still another number, we get Dancing in the Dark and after it, like expected, Tenth Avenue Freeze Out. Again the "Clarence moment" was just like on the YouTube videos I've seen and on the reviews I've read, and a little too long for this European audience which doesn't fully know how to react. But that moment when the band start playing again, that's something incredible!
Bruce was really full of extra energy and turned even more hype while the show went on. It kind of seemed that he wasn't yet ready to stop but he just had to, as uh, shows are supposed to stop at some point. The show went on for well over 3 hours, and the set list included 30 songs which is longest (I think) yet on this tour. Summertime Blues, Caddy Ranch and Sherry Darling were tour premieres. All the new songs + Darkness and E Street Shuffle were "lifers" for me.
My legs are busted but my spirit is high, and I have a FOS ticket for the Köln (Cologne) show in two days! Stay tuned for another review...
23. Rocky Ground
24. Born in the U.S.A.
25. Born To Run
26. Cadillac Ranch
27. Sherry Darling
28. Glory Days
29. Dancing in the Dark
30. Tenth Avenue Freeze Out
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