For more than four decades, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band has been giving a voice to middle America with the pure intensity of grass roots rock and roll and song meanings that, through generations, still manage to apply to the current issues of today.
While many aging rockers have lost their edge, Springsteen and his 15-member powerhouse band still remain at the top of their game (and in surprising limber form). The Jersey-native rocker brought an inspiring three hour rock sermon to a sold out crowd to the first of two nights of the Wrecking Ball Tour at the L.A. Sports Arena on Thursday, and fans both new and old were shown what real rock and roll is all about.
[pullquote quote="We've come thousands of miles on a long, long road to wake you, to shake you...to show you the joyous power of rock and roll music!" credit="Bruce Springsteen "]
Unlike many artists today who shroud the stage in complete darkness before mysteriously emerging, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band made a grand entrance walking out one by one to the “Magnificent Seven” theme song with the arena house lights on at full beam.
“L.A. — are you ready to get transformed?!” Bruce exclaimed as he ripped into the opening song.
The Boss’ launch into the fan-favorite “Badlands” was met with a thunderous applause and ferocious fist pumping from the crowd until the very end when a sudden flick of the lights transitioned into the new single “We Take Care Of Our.”
The intentional choice of a low-frills production allowed the high-energy show to center around what mattered the most — the music — which covered a span of hits in the vast Springsteen catalog, including eight tracks from his latest album Wrecking Ball. New tracks featured in the set included “Wrecking Ball,” “Easy Money,” “We Are Alive” and the Celtic-folk inspired “Death To My Hometown” that spotlighted a special guest for the evening.
Tom Morello, the skilled ax-man from Rage Against The Machine, joined Springsteen onstage for the first of several collaborations of the night, which also marked his first appearance in the tour so far. Morello later got one of the biggest sustaining cheers of the entire concert when he unleashed his astounding guitar work for a mind-melting solo during a performance of Springsteen’s “Ghost Of Tom Joad.”
But for this one highlight of the night, there were several others collected over the 25-song set that made for a memorable experience. One that cannot go without mention being the heart-felt tribute to late saxophonist Clarence “The Big Man” Clemons, whose death last June still weighed heavy on the group.
The group paid tribute with a slideshow of highlights from Clemons’ career with the E Street Band during the very last song of the night. However, fans were warm to welcome Clemons’ nephew Jake in his place with cheers of affection for each sax solo played on songs like “Born To Run.”
The 62-year-old Springsteen showed fans that both him and his music haven’t aged one bit. He still harbors as much of his 20-something self as he did from the start of his career, as proven by running through the crowd to a center platform where he once again demonstrated his superb beer-chugging skills and crowd-surfed back to the main stage — like a Boss.
The night wrapped up with an extended encore starting with another new song “Rocky Ground,” a fun cover of The Rivieras “California Sun” and of course Springsteen staples “Born To Run” and “Dancing In The Street” that featured his little sister dancing on stage a la Courtney Cox.
The succession in generations of fans in attendance proved that the music of Springsteen will live on for years to come. Returning to the L.A. Sports Arena for a second show tonight, fans can expect an exceptionally powerful show from The Boss and The E Street Band.
As Bruce said at the show, they didn’t travel a long road for nothing, they plan to “wake you, to shake you… to show you the joyous power of rock and roll music!”