Citizen’s Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
I have had the privilege of seeing Springsteen many times over the last 35 years. I have previously seen a few shows in his original heartland of New York City and New Jersey, but never in Philly, another of those original areas that first embraced him over 40 years ago and the city featured many legendary shows in the 70s, 80s and onwards.
In all of those shows I had never heard New York Serenade, the magnificent closing epic from his brilliant second album. Tonight, he opened with it, the string section coming on stage ahead of the band was a big clue, and he and the band then completely nailed it. The show was only 10 minutes old and my trip down was already worth it. Two nights earlier he had played the longest show of his career in the US at the same venue, it was just over 4hrs. A longer show seemed inevitable, but the hottest Sept 9th for more than 130 years, meant that it was out of the question.
So where could the show go from there? We quickly entered party mode with Out in the Street, the little played rarity From Small Things soon appeared along with the sensational outtake from The River, Loose Ends. A ragged, but finally scintillating version. We entered a passage of 5 songs from his first 2 albums, an extraordinary Kitty’s Back rather clumsily merged into an early (in the setlist) Rosalita. Too many other highlights to mention, but 41 Shots was meaningful and sensational, there was a breakneck Candy’s Room and arguably the best version of Racing in the Street (a sign request) I have heard.
But most of all there was Backstreets. Obviously a great, great song, but one I always rated behind 2 or 3 others on the Born to Run album. It was a song nostalgic for youth even when he was 25 years old, every one of the 40 years that followed seemed ingrained in his passionate vocal a line like “We swore, we’d live forever”, taking on significance as we reach the twilight of his and the band’s career, and the inevitable end of the special shared relationship with his audience. For a moment he seemed about to lose it, finally snapping back for the repeated “Hiding on the Backstreets …”, grand ending. A performance for the ages, (see below), and I am now thinking it may be his finest song.
The show clocked in at just under 3hr50, ending with a beautiful, soaring Jersey Girl, fireworks exploded as he danced with one of those girls whh had clambered on stage. The band were exemplary, Bittan on top form and Mighty Max pounding the drums for close on 4 hrs in extraordinary heat while wearing a suit and tie.
* yes, he also played Streets of Philadelphia, beautiful.
From 6 to 60+. Loud, rousing, passionate. The best I have experienced in North America.
It made me think..
We won’t see his like again.