Boss sounds well worth three-decade wait

Bruce Springsteen concert at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland...
Bruce Springsteen concert at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland...
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Live review: Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland

Bruce Springsteen was back in the north east with his long-time backing band for the first time in 27 years and, for the first time ever in Sunderland, last week, and it was well worth the wait.

For fans of the man they call the Boss, it was certain to be a momentous occasion and the 62-year-old and his sidekicks didn’t disappoint.

The band flooded onto the stage, much like the rain, with Springsteen announcing: “This is how it should be, not 75 degrees,” then launched straight into their thunderous classic Badlands.

This was followed by a plethora of old and new songs, delving into matters such as deep depression in the sombre Jack of All Trades and My City of Ruins and many of the other protest songs the band are renowned for.

Dispelling that gloomy tone, Bruce and Co then put their blues behind them and exploded into a succession of uplifting singlongs including Waitin’ on a Sunny Day and Land of Hope and Dreams, their adoring fans responding with rapturous applause.

The band haven’t played many shows lasting less than three hours this tour and they failed to break that habit here. Starting their encores with a solemn We are Alive, they then powered through some of their most famous tunes, such as Born to Run and Thunder Road, aided by a roaring crowd who knew each one word for word. This was followed by the most uplifting run of songs of the night, namely Hungry Heart, Seven Nights to Rock, Glory Days and Dancing in the Dark.

The E-Street band were on fine form. There was, however, a noticeable absence on the night, saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who died just over a year ago. There was a heartfelt tribute to him during the last song of the night, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, as the band, along with fans, paid homage to him, many substituting their usual chants of ‘Broooce’ for even louder screams of ‘Clarence’. His shoes were well filled, though, his young nephew Jake stepping up to the plate and earning the respect of everyone present immediately.

This 3hr 10min journey through everything from Springteen’s political views to songs of hope and joy just goes to prove that the E-Street Band are not slowing down with age and, in fact, seem to be upping their game further.

DANIEL REVELEY