The biggest sign made by an audience member at Bruce Springsteen’s first Melbourne show of his 2014 tour read, “For all the workers who have lost their jobs”.
Grabbing the sign to play ‘Factory’, The Boss relayed an anecdote about his father’s worklife on the Ford production line in New Jersey.
Springsteen’s working class relatability is a key factor in his legacy, and the Darkness On The Edge Of The Town track is symbolic of what brought the 32,000 or so punters to his show.
As the E Street Band carried out the song to its maximum proficiency, and with the crowd’s thoughts no doubt on the current capitulation of Australia’s car manufacturing industry, the sheer power of the Springsteen “spectacular” reached another new level.
Opening with the ‘Highway To Hell’ cover, as he had done in Perth only nights before, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder joined the stage and stuck around for a starring role on ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’ as well.
While obscurities, hits, and a couple of new tracks from this year’s patchy High Hopes album followed, The Boss’ decision to play his most successful album, Born In The U.S.A., in full allowed for a crowd pleasing setlist.
Playing entire albums is nothing new for an E Street show, but for Australians – who waited 10 years between his 2003 and 2013 tours – it was a novelty.
After performing here almost 12 months ago, Springsteen expressed his desire not to do the same thing. But, for the entire three and half hour show, the extraordinary performance was business as usual for The Boss.
For the fans that had seen him last year, or who have watched his many live DVDs, the concert was as conventional as a non-conventional show could be.
From pulling the two cross-dressing fans of backup singer Cindy Mizelle on stage and giving them guitars to play, to dancing with an overawed mum, Springsteen has become an expert at making memories for his fans.
Tom Morello’s starring, electric solo on ‘The Ghost Of Tom Joad’ was back again, while Max Weinberg’s insistent and persistent drumming was as reliable as ever. Even the unpredictability of the sign requests were predictably exciting.
Missing from last year’s tour was Stevie Van Zandt, and having the guitarist back provided another focal point.
The 64-year-old frontman’s endurance was as awe-inspiring as ever, as he continues to put his younger counterparts to shame. While what went down at AAMI Park was expected, it wasn’t any less mind-blowing. No one unites a crowd better than The Boss, and partaking in such an experience never grows old, no matter how many times you’ve done it before.
It was no more evident than during the obscure sign requested ‘Jole Blon’. Springsteen still managed to induce a mass singalong for the traditional Cajun waltz cover, which was originally recorded for The River, but then used on a Gary U.S. Bonds album.
He didn’t even need to lift a finger for ‘Hungry Heart’, ‘Glory Days’, ‘Dancing In The Dark’, or ‘Rosalita’ – taken from his now 40-year-old sophomore album.
On ‘My Hometown’, the frontman sounded as crisp as Dan Sultan had during his opening set. While the same could not be said for Mark Seymour of Hunters And Collectors, the Australian band’s performance still had its own anthem grabbing highlights.
But there’s only one musician with the nickname ‘The Boss’, and for a good reason. Springsteen and his E Street soldiers kept the crowd on their feet without pause for over three hours.
It was a live show that didn’t just transcend the age of the musician himself, but the audience in participation. While the experience was no doubt nostalgic for the fathers, mothers, husbands, and wives, the sons and daughters in the crowd were reminded of their childhood.
However, to bring it back to Springsteen’s enduring qualities, it was the young kids in the audience that validated the transference of his influence to the next generation.
Whether the crowd had seen The Boss’ during his 2013 Wrecking Ball tour or not, the spectacle of an E Street show never fails to diminish. There’s something profound about being able to witness what is essentially the same show twice – or thereabouts – and yet, being moved by it in a greater capacity than before.
Then again, given that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band continue to sound better every year, such a sentiment should have been predicted.
Highway To Hell (AC/DC cover) with Eddie Vedder
Darkness On The Edge Of Town with Eddie Vedder
Just Like Fire Would
Born In The U.S.A. Album:
Born In The U.S.A
Working On The Highway
I’m On Fire
I’m Goin’ Down
Dancing In The Dark
Shackled And Drawn
The Ghost Of Tom Joad
Land Of Hopes And Dreams
Born To Run
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
Seven Nights To Rock (Moon Mullican cover)
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
Thunder Road (Acoustic)