Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Friday, October 2
There’s something extra nostalgic about seeing Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Giants Stadium, a crumbling edifice scheduled for demolition next year. Springsteen is in the middle of a five-night stand at the venue, and he’s probably the last guy able to book such a run. And so, never one to miss an occasion, he opened with “Wrecking Ball,” a menacing, autobiographical number he wrote especially for the event. Strumming his sunburst telecaster in a black vest and grey shirt with rolled-up sleeves, he sang: “My home is here at the Meadowlands / Where mosquitos grow as big as airplanes / Here where the blood is spilled, the arena is filled / And Giants play the game.”
Springsteen had announced earlier this summer that he would play several of his classic albums in their entirety at the fall stadium gigs. Tonight, it’s Darkness On The Edge of Town, his first full-on arena rock embrace LP, released in 1978. Though Springsteen’s done full-album sets before, it’s still a relative novelty and on Friday, he and his band took the task seriously: “Badlands” was fist-pumping, “Racing in the Street” tragic, and “The Promised Land” as dramatic as that song gets, all fuzz and Nils Lofgren-generated feedback.
The next portion of the show was audience-request. Crowdmembers held up song-scrawled signs while Springsteen selected numbers. There was no awe-inducing moment (like, say, when the band improbably nailed “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” at Bonnaroo this summer), but highlights included rarely-played Born in the U.S.A. track “I’m Going Down” and a spontaneous “Jailhouse Rock.” Springsteen said he’d never played “Jailhouse” before; the crowd watched him try to keep up with the tongue-twisting lines on his teleprompter before he finally wondered out loud: “How many verses does this song have?”
Earlier, the band had kicked into their enduring emulation of Motown soul, “Hungry Heart.” As is tradition, Springsteen raised the mic and let the stadium crowd take the first verse. He then darted off stage during the organ solo, climbed onto a platform in the middle of the audience, and struck one of his arms-held-out signature poses, before kneeling and high-fiving crowd members.
Of course, late-career Springsteen can be corny; he donned a cowboy hat at the end of new Working on a Dream track “Outlaw Pete,” and the camera zoomed in on cowboy boots during the song’s final notes. During “Waiting on a Sunny Day,” he climbed into the bleachers to let a tone-deaf-but-sweet little girl sing two choruses. But the joy was contagious. It lasted as the rain started to fall during epic late-set numbers “Born to Run,” “Dancing in the Dark,” and “Cadillac Ranch.” Springsteen plays two more shows at Giants Stadium, on Thursday and Friday. We suggest scouring fan sites for tickets.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 5, 2009