As a longtime listener of Set Lusting Bruce, I was honored when host extraordinaire Jesse Jackson (not THAT Jesse Jackson) asked to interview me on his wonderful podcast, which you can listen to by clicking here. Spoiler alert: Bruce (Springsteen) is the main subject of our conversation. If you like it despite my incessant stuttering, you really should listen to Jesse’s older episodes, and then subscribe to his iTunes network feed. Relevant links are below, but before I go, I just wanted to thank Mr. Jackson once again for the invitation. If you at all enjoy our chat, all credit should go to him; the success of an interview – which are harder than they look – depends waaaay more on the interviewer than the interviewee.
A slightly edited version of this piece originally appeared on Backstreets.com, which you can read here. If you already did, scroll down a bit to find a lot of performance notes and observations that were not included in the original version.
How do you follow the show heard round the world?
This. This was a fucking concert.
My favorite moment of Bruce and the Band’s final-leg-launching first of three nights in their home state of New Jersey actually occurred hours before the crowd was let into MetLife Stadium. Don’t get me wrong – this proclamation is in no way an indictment of the actual concert, which was rife with memorable moments of all shapes and sizes. Rather, one of Bruce’s song choices during the extended soundcheck seemed to hint at the Boss FINALLY adhering to the wishes of a plethora of his fans that he put a little more thought into his construction of the setlists on this tour.
This has been the best summer of my life.
Though a vast majority of this website over the last three months has been devoted to recaps of Bruce’s concerts in Europe, what made this summer so special – and what I’ll remember most about it – revolves around the Bruce Buds that I’ve befriended along the way, a fact that I acutely felt during the final stop of the European Tour in Zurich, whose Pit was overwhelmingly populated with so many of the familiar faces with whom I had forged real friendships over the course of my travels thanks to the European Pit system.
Similar to the American leg, Bruce saved the best for last in Europe.
Much like how Brooklyn 2 was filled with a bevy of rarities, Bruce once again thrillingly strayed from his familiar setlist structure for the final stop of the European tour. Yet in Zurich’s beautiful Stadion Letzigrund, Bruce largely deviated from The River to construct a fresh, special setlist that would appeal to this night’s very specific intended audience: the hordes of familiar faces of all nationalities packed into the Pit who had travelled across thousands of miles to follow the Band from country to country this summer, all meeting here for one more triumphant, celebratory, and wholly memorable three and a half hour, 30-song hurrah that finally featured the type of “I don’t know what he’s going to play next” spontaneity that they had been chasing.
Expectations were ludicrously high for Gothenburg 3. After two great concerts at the end of June – with night one being the second longest of all time, and night two being among the best evenings of this tour – many were anticipating Bruce and the Band’s final stop at Ullevi Stadium to be nothing short of an all-timer.
Unfortunately, besides perhaps the best performance of The River on this tour, that faith was not entirely rewarded.
If I presented you with a map of Europe, would you be able to mark where Horsens is located?
Before Saturday night, seeing Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performing literally atop Circus Maximus in Rome could not have been considered a bucket list event because most never would’ve even dreamed of such a ludicrously stunning idea. And yet, tens upon thousands of Bruce’s ravenously enthusiastic Italian fans packed into this legendary site – which is now basically a giant dirt field with slightly elevated grassy hills on either side surrounded by ruins in the heart of one of the “most beautiful” cities in the world – as far as the eye could see for the third and final E Street spectacular in Italy. Palpably aware of the significance of this landmark locale, Bruce, the Band, and the seemingly never-ending crowd seemed to share one predominant goal: to celebrate nonstop this momentous occasion. Though the setlist may not have been sufficiently monumental from beginning to end to make the show match its all-timer of a venue, he included song choices of all kinds – from truly mind-blowing moments to rollicking covers to his usual greatest hits befitting the large festival setting – to satisfy every member of the Circus, whose unparalleled, unwavering energy never failed to convey the awe-inspiring circumstances of the extra-long night.
European prayers have finally been answered.
If Monday night’s fuse-blowing concert at Paris’ AccorHotels Arena demonstrated for the first time on this tour the magnetic energy generated from combining the intimacy of a typical American arena with the the signature passion of a typical European crowd, Wednesday night’s show at long last – after much begging, cajoling, pleading, screaming, and yes, even praying on the part of the European contingent of E Street Nation – tested what would happen when these fans were finally treated to the first ever full album performance of The River in Europe. The consensus, to which their American counterparts can attest: it was well worth the wait.