He’s the One

23 Aug

It was a hot night on Saturday at the Comcast Center (formerly the Tweeter Center, formerly Great Woods), but just like he’s done so many times before, Bruce Springsteen brought the power and didn’t let a silly little thing like 80-degree-plus heat get in the way of a great show.

He even replaced his familiar call of “Is there anybody alive out there?” with “Is it hot enough for you?”

But that wasn’t the only departure from the script — he frequently shook up his planned setlist, playing songs out of their intended order and inserting a few extra requests along the way.

It added up to an experience that felt significantly different from the shows I saw back in April (night one and night two).

Most noticeable for anyone who’d seen one of the earlier shows was the lack of an overall theme.

The “Seeds” and “Johnny 99” pair was still there, as was “Hard Times (Come Again No More),” and Bruce still did his schtick about building a house during “Working on a Dream,” but the schtick was cut in half, kept brief, and not overdone.

Like last summer’s show at Gillette, this show was less about promoting a new album (he only played one other song from Working on a Dream, “Outlaw Pete”) and more about pleasing the fans.

So in place of these reminders of how hard the times are, we got a handful of summertime party tunes: “Rosalita” and “Hungry Heart.” “Dancing in the Dark” (complete with a little girl brought up on stage to dance). The audience-requested, temperature-appropriate “Burning Love.” A Detroit medley of soul tunes, like “Devil with a Blue Dress” (inspired by an audience member’s blowup doll in a blue dress with devil horns that caught the band’s eye). And the evening’s closer, “Twist and Shout.”

Song after song after song, Bruce performed these and other classics like he was doing so for the first time, never relenting on the energy or enthusiasm (frequent drinks and douses by a wet sponge surely helped).

Openers “Jackson Cage,” “She’s the One,” and “Working on the Highway,” the excellent “Backstreets,” and Jimmy Cliff’s “Trapped” (another audience request) all were great.

Thrown into the mix as an audible was the beautiful “If I Should Fall Behind” (dedicated to a couple in the audience who had seen Bruce 224 times — no kidding).

And yes, he also played concert mainstays like “Lonesome Day,” “Badlands,” “Waiting on a Sunny Day,” and of course, hands-down, the best six minutes in live music, “Born to Run.” And it was all a thrill, as always.

And then, as if the show couldn’t get any better, Jay Weinberg, Max’s son (who turns 19 in a couple weeks), slipped behind the drum set for the encore, doing as he did back in April and taking the show to more exciting heights.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: That kid can play.

So, another reliably good Springsteen show. How he and the E Street Band (making its first appearance in Mansfield, by the way) kept things going for just shy of three hours in that heat, I don’t know. I mean, the guy’s turning 60 next month(!!) and it’s not like he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt like I was.

But suffice it to say, it was worth the sweat.

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