Liisa's Show Review:
Bruce Springsteen at Helsinki Olympic Stadium, Tuesday July 31st, 2012
or
Bruce doesn't want to go home

© 2012 Liisa Sarakontu, lsarakon@gmail.com

After that superb Gothenburg #2 we Finnish fans made our way to home on Sunday and immediately start running the pit line for the Helsinki show in Tuesday. Two days of very little sleep, lots of chatting with other fans and stalking outside hotel and getting some autographs was like a two-day nonstop pre-show party and a straight continuum from our days in Gothenburg and the two shows we saw there.

I was totally high, but still, there was this little voice telling me that as it was a fact that nothing could be compared to Gothenburg #2, the Helsinki show would be a kind of anticlimax for this tour. With the stiff Helsinki audience, Bruce certainly can't do much more than just a regular hit parade and besides, he and most of the band must be dead tired from all this touring in Europe. We'll sure get a shortish show with a too "normal" setlist. But there will be good moments and it is a Bruce show anyway, so it isn't going to be bad...

Inside da house, and with #50, I can choose a good spot at the front rail just in front of Soozie. Let's sit down and enjoy a nice chat with my back to the fence, Finnish friends on my left side and Italian "Die-Hards" on my right. Hey, why security is telling us to stand up THIS EARLY? We want to sit! Ok, now we are all up and our legs will get tired. Great. Hmm, why is that mic roadie clearly bringing in Bruce's mic? And what does that camera guy do out here this early? And holy shit, WHAT DOES BRUCE DO OUT HERE THIS EARLY???

Bruce doesn't even have his show clothes on and sports sun glasses, but he is carrying an acoustic guitar, greets us and starts I'll Work for Your Love. Dammit, what a fine moment! He really works for our love and now he came out to prove it to us! This early just the pit is filled (probably about 3000) and although regular gates are now open, big masses are only starting to arrive and there hardly is even a quarter of the audience (about 43 000) present right now. What a present for us die hard fans!

Oh, what he does now? He goes and picks up a request, is he really going to do another song too? The request plate says Leap of Faith and that's what we hear! Two acoustic bonus songs, wow! Oh, he doesn't seem to be in hurry to leave even after that and the next song is No Surrender. This is crazy, THREE extra songs like this! Hey wait, Kevin is bringing a bar stool for Bruce, still more? For You! This is already the best show ever, stuff like this doesn't happen in real life! We are still treated with a superb Blinded by the Light, in which Bruce makes us sing along in the end.

After this set Bruce walks along the front rail (and manages to skip just the part where I was), greets fans, talks to them, points out several people ("Hey, I see you always with that other guy! You friends?", "You don't have your kid here today?" "Yes, I remember you, you and you too!"), shakes hands and collects a huge pile of requests, including some totally wild ones like Wild Billy's Circus Story before leaving the stage.

Like wow, what on earth did we just see? A 5 song acoustic set with the audience just arriving in, do such things really exist outside clubs and little beer joints? Not at stadiums, never. A mini set just for us in the pit, clearly to thank all of us, his European fans and never mind the folks who have just bough a ticket to whatever general rock concert and will arrive just when the artist is supposed to start, or little after that. We laugh and cry in a single sound and hug each others.

Bruce sounded somewhat hoarse in some songs, and he blew his nose several times. So he still has that cold like in Gothenburg. Perhaps this acoustic set is also his way to do a two-part show so that the main set will be much shorter than normally but when counted together, the show would still reach a decent length? Okay, let's wait for a maximum 3 hours main set with a very basic setlist but that will not matter, what a treat we just got!

The show time was 7 pm but ESB steps on stage when it is nearly 8 pm. Okay, another proof of a short show because we know that the curfew is at 11 pm (although our fan community This Hard Land had made sure that both Live Nation Finland and Helsinki City know that Bruce might break the curfew and both have promised not to pull plug here).

Rockin' All Over the World! That's the way to start the last show of this "abroad" leg! Besides, a normal Finnish audience like this needs to get waked up and a song like this does the job nicely. We in the pit had did our part of the warm up by starting claps and waves, and we finally even managed to create a wave that travelled like 4 times around he whole stadium, super rare here in Finland! Then straight into the Night and Out in the Street, yes! A solid rocking start, good!

Loose Ends, what a nice surprise and what a nice song, never heard it live before. Then Bruce says something which means that he is going to do Prove It All Night, but before starting it, spots a request saying "Prove it '78 intro", points it, says "okay" and launches that fantastic and long intro just like that. Oh, now I think will faint.

Five songs into the main set and we are already gathering our gaping lower jaws from the floor and pressing out bulging eyes back to their sockets. This doesn't exactly look like your regular night. But can the band survive this? Bruce clearly has cold. Steve is wiping his nose just like Nils who is dressed very warmly even if this is a warm night and they both look rather tired but still their Boss makes them go like this! There probably are easier jobs than being a member of this band.

Familiar tunes from the new album follow: We Take Care of Our Own, Wrecking Ball and Death To My Hometown. Then My City of Ruins with that moment for missing band members, but with a quite different arrangement from what we have seen earlier on this tour. Bruce has clearly been working during his two days off and rewritten some of his mid-song speaking parts. We Finns don't manage to bow as nicely as the Swedes did, but we do our best and due to Bruce, it goes quite well.

Now the regular set part is over, perhaps it is now time to start the expected "some hits for Finns" part - no, that's one of the requests Bruce gathered after the acoustic set and it has a picture of a bus. Yes, Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street? Oh oh. Hey, what you are supposed to do during a rarity like this? Stare? Cry? Sing along? Yes, dancing is always a good answer! So me and my buddy Jersey_girl do our version of bus stopping shuffle in unison during the whole song!

It is followed by Be True, another rarity, and after it we get Jack of All Trades (which for some reason seems to get bigger applause than most other songs - but then the new album sold quite well here and has been played quite a lot on radio). Downbound Train, yes! It doesn't rain tonight like in Gothenburg but never mind, love to hear this again! Because the Night has always been one of my very favourites, and that solo by Nils was again extraordinary. Lonesome Day sounds good and gets the audience raise their hands and sing along. Darlington County is funny as always.

Bruce gets yet another request from audience. That isn't just cardboard, but somebody has really made a battery operated black plastic (?) square with shining neon blue letters and a blinking red star saying Light of Day, and that's exactly what we hear. Yes, that's one of the numerous titles I was thinking about when trying to decide what to write to my own requests! Later during the set Bruce gives that request thingy to Kevin who takes it backstage. Perhaps he has a room for memorabilia like this at home?

The next song is going to be Shackled and Drawn, but before starting the song itself, he makes us all grunt and shovel so that the stadium really echoes. He hardly made that part up here himself, this sounds like an old American chain gang or slave chant. Anybody know where that interesting and very fitting intro and outro part came from? He used some Alan Lomax stuff on Wrecking Ball album, so could this one be from the same source?

Then we are Waitin' On a Sunny Day, and the first audience member who got to sing is by far the worst singer ever but the chosen kid luckily did his part very well. After it there's that slow song, what on earth it is, oh Back in Your Arms! Not just singing, but lots of spoken parts, wailing and begging on his knees (THUD, that's the sound of begging, and also of closing doors) First half of the song I just swayed to and fro and the rest I was trying to find enough tissues from my pockets and just try to survive this emotional moment.

Luckily the next song is familiar The Rising, and I can gather myself and sing along and raise hands. Hmm, is it just me or have there really been already quite many songs and we are not yet at the encores? I don't watch time during a Springsteen show, but this feels like we are certainly breaking the 3 hour mark tonight. Perhaps even 3:30, if we are lucky and get something extra during encores? That could make the whole show close to 4 hours, if the acoustic set is counted in.

Badlands! Wo-oh-oh-ooh-ooh! Sure we are glad to be alive tonight! Land of Hope and Dreams gives us another chance to raise hands and sing along, People get ready, there's a train comin', you don't need no ticket, just get on board! End of the main set.

Encores start with We Are Alive, and we get another version of that little story about Bruce and his sister Ginny as kids in the graveyard visiting their aunt's grave, the aunt who died when she was just a kid. Hmm, this isn't a typical Finnish drinking night as I hear much less extra shouts during this quiet song than in Sweden. Very good. But now even the beer can talk freely, we are now Born In The USA, hands up and shout if you still have any voice left! Born To Run sounds again good.

Then perhaps Hungry Heart or something before 10th Ave, but nope, this is the Detroit Medley, yet another tour premiere tonight! Yes, yes, YES! Dancing party all over in the pit! Glory Days, and all the pit does the whoo! part in just the right place. I normally manage to be a little late, but luckily I have practised! After it we are Dancing In The Dark, and most of the audience even in the stands looks like they are starting to warm up, and then it is time for Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.

Perhaps one or two songs still? But he already did the Detroit Medley, perhaps 10th Ave is the last song today? I wouldn't mind, we have already had a very special show tonight. Hmm, Bruce has a guitar but the rest of the band don't look like they are going to play, what is this? Steve has a guitar too, they talk some and then we get I Don't Want to Go Home! No Southside on stage, although we know he is in town, but Bruce and Steve do a funny duet together with some extra lyrics in the end about Bruce not wanting to go home, and the audience not wanting to go home either.

That means there are still going to be at least one song more, and now I finally get why this show feels so weird: Tonight Bruce doesn't have an audience of 43 000, but about 3000. He is playing for the pit! Well, of course there are those hits which are aimed to the rest of the audience, but tonight he is playing mainly for just us in the pit. For us, who have queued and waited no matter what the weather is. Us die hards. He knows we wait for him under scorching sun and heavy rain, travel abroad and pay for flights and hotels we might not exactly afford, or even sleep in tents. He respects us, and that's why he does this for us. Holy fucking shit. Could you imagine Madonna doing this, or U2?

Bruce really doesn't seem to be in too much hurry to go home tonight, and as the rest of the band again gets ready, we'll go Higher and Higher! With all these horns, with all these background singers! Your love, Bruce, is definitely lifting me still higher tonight! Hey, that's Jon Landau with a guitar on stage too! Besides, this is like 8th tour premiere tonight and about 10th new, never-before-heard-live song for me. Really? Really!

The show isn't stopping even after this, we still get Twist and Shout. Problems with mics, but luckily it isn't due to the curfew, which must have broken already some time ago. Dancing! Jazz hands! Shoulders hurting, legs hurting, voice hoarse but we will do it as long as you want, Bruce! After a while Bruce shows two fingers to Max, what was that? Then he comes to mic and says that he just heard that we are 2 minutes from the 4 hour mark, and so let's go and do yet another aa-aa-AA-AA-AAAAH and after a while, he shows something like 5 minutes mark to Max and they finally stop and bow.

After the extended bows and Bruce waving at the audience I finally look at my wrist watch to check the time, as I assume that this was 4 hours when counting the acoustic set - but the watch says that it is indeed midnight. Holy fucking shit! No, that is already used and that doesn't describe this even closely. Let's try another one: Yes yes, Jesus H. Tap-Dancing Christ, I have seen the light! I can't do the Joliet Jake backflips, but you get the idea.

This is what a show is all about. This was a true Church of Bruce sermon. This show is never going to be topped. And I was there to witness it on my very own home turf. My humble thanks to you, Bruce.

Set list

Pre-show acoustic set: 18:30

1. I'll Work for Your Love (tour premiere)
2. Leap of Faith (request, tour premiere)
3. No Surrender
4. For You (request, I think)
5. Blinded by the Light (request, tour premiere)

19:53

1. Rockin' All Ove the World (tour premiere)
2. Night
3. Out In The Street
4. Loose Ends (request)
5. Prove It All Night '78 Intro (intro part was request)
6. We Take Care of Our Own
7. Wrecking Ball
8. Death To My Hometown
9. My City of Ruins
10. Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street? (request)
11. Be True
12. Jack of All Trades
13. Downbound Train
14. Because The Night
15. Lonesome Day
16. Darlington County
17. Light Of Day, with a snippet of Land of 1000 Dances (request)
18. Shackled and Drawn
19. Waitin' On a Sunny Day
20. Back in Your Arms (tour premiere)
21. The Rising
22. Badlands
23. Land of Hope and Dreams

24. We Are Alive
25. Born In The USA
26. Born To Run
27. Detroit Medley (tour premiere)
28. Glory Days
29. Dancing In The Dark
30. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
31. I Don't Want to Go Home (request, tour premiere)
32. Higher & Higher (tour premiere)
33. Twist & Shout

23:59

"Official" show length, without counting the acoustic set, was 4:06. That's Bruce's longest show ever (well, this far). With the acoustic set this clocked well over 4,5 hours.

Some thoughts about the European leg of this 2012 Wrecking Ball Tour

I saw six shows, two (Frankfurt and Cologne) quite early in the tour, one (Prague) in the middle of latter half and then the three last European shows (Gothenburg 1 & 2, Helsinki), and these gave quite nice view how the show developed here in Europe.

First the set list and the whole show was rather stationary, but it was very good to see how Bruce had planned it to go this time. An old hit or three in the beginning, then these certain songs from the new album, My City of Ruins + E Street Shuffle, some slightly varying stuff and then nearly identical encore which always ends with 10th Avenue. Nice, energetic shows anyway and Bruce seems to have lots of extra steam, especially when there has been few days since the last show.

Then the show started turning little more unpredictable. In Prague we saw a show with still the very typical set list, but some new surprises (like acoustic Tom Joad as first song), and the show was much looser and more relaxed than in Germany. Now there was at least one fanny song after 10th Avenue kind of to show that the mourning period was over and life is fun again.

Gothenburg #1 followed again a very strict set list after some quite surprising shows in Norway, but it had that magic ”everyone bows to Clarence” moment - and after that in Gothenburg #2 and Helsinki all the normal system was totally broken and we get two super funny shows, not your run of the mill stadium shows but something far closer to a little rehearsed club show, in which everything is possible and audience can take part by shouting requests and other comments.

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