REVIEW: Bruce Springsteen tour rocks through Boston


Photo Paige Morse

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band from left: drummer Max Weinberg, guitarist Nils Lofgren, saxophonist Jake Clemons, Bruce Springsteen, guitarist Steve Van Zandt, guitarist Patti Sciafla.

Paige Morse, Assistant A&E Editor

“Are you ready to be entertained? Are you ready to be transformed?” Bruce Springsteen yelled when he came on stage at the TD Garden in Boston on February 4. Springsteen transformed his audience as soon as he strummed his trademark Fender Esquire guitar.

My friend and I lucked out big time with our general admission floor tickets when we found out we won the pit lottery. Tears dripped down my face as we hugged random men and women we had met minutes before who had the same luck we did.

When Springsteen and the band took the stage, it was almost unreal. Standing about ten feet away from me was the kid from New Jersey who grew up to be a man who changed the face of rock and roll.

“I wanted the record to contain fun, dancing, laughter, jokes, sex, love, tragedy, faith, lonely nights, and of course teardrops,” Springsteen said as he introduced the album. He conveyed all of these ideas in a captivating three and a half hour performance.

The show began with a beloved outtake from The River, “Meet Me in the City,” which had been hidden from fans for over 30 years until the December 2015 release of The Ties That Bind: The River Collection. Then Springsteen took us “down to The River” as he performed the entire 20-song double-album in order.

Everyone in the crowd was up on their feet for the fun, lighthearted “Sherry Darling” and the classic rocker “The Ties that Bind.” I was surrounded in the pit by generations of fans singing every lyric of every song, holding on to every word Springsteen growled into the microphone. During “Hungry Heart” fans went wild as 66-year-old Springsteen crowd surfed over the pit while singing. The ever-personal title track “The River” weighed heavy on the audience and the Boss himself, as he made you believe the pain in every word he sang.

Jake Clemens unloads an incredible saxophone solo onto a crowd of over 17,000 Springsteen fans.
Photo Paige Morse
Jake Clemens unloads an incredible saxophone solo onto a crowd of over 17,000 Springsteen fans.

“Springsteen nuts” like myself had the opportunity to hear songs the band rarely plays live and they were played to perfection. His lyrics resonated in the air as pit members stared up at him in awe during “Point Blank,” “Independence Day,” “The Price You Pay,” and “Stolen Car.” Springsteen lightened the mood by whipping out some maracas as he shared the inspiration for the song “I Wanna Marry You.”

“I wrote this song as a daydream, where you’re just standing on the corner watching someone you’ll never meet walk on by, and you’re imagining an entire life with this person,” Springsteen said.

Guitarist Steve Van Zandt playfully crowded around the microphone during some back-and-forth moments with Springsteen in “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)” and “Two Hearts.”

The true show-stopper was the gut-wrenching ten minute ballad “Drive All Night.” The lights darkened except for one blue beam illuminating Springsteen’s face as he belted the most raw, passionate song on the album, filling each and every person in the Garden with a flood of unexplainable emotion. Jake Clemons, nephew of the late great Clarence Clemons, played his uncle’s saxophone solo to its justice.

After the last song of the album, “Wreck on the Highway,” Springsteen and the band kicked it into full gear with the tour debut of the outtake “Roulette,” giving die-hard fans immense satisfaction. The Garden was shaking during Darkness on the Edge of Town favorites “Prove It All Night” and “Candy’s Room.” During “Because the Night,” guitarist Nils Lofgren spun in circles until he couldn’t walk straight while destroying his solo. The entire night, drummer Max Weinberg kept a hard, steady beat in the back of the stage with no time to rest while E Street original Garry Tallent rocked on the bass.

No Springsteen show would be complete without “Thunder Road,” “Born to Run,” “Badlands,” and “Dancing in the Dark.” The house lights went up during the encore, exposing every person in the arena dancing and singing to favorites like the world depended on it. “Rosalita” caused the energy to skyrocket, and just when everyone thought it couldn’t get more exciting, Springsteen broke into one of the greatest party songs of all time. Boston native Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band took the stage to join Bruce and the band for “Shout” by the Isly Brothers.

You haven’t truly seen something magical until you have seen the “heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, love-making, earth-quaking, Viagra-taking, justifying, death-defying, legendary E Street Band,” as Springsteen likes to put it. Every time Springsteen sets foot on stage, rock history is being made.