Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Xcel Energy Center, 11/11/12

Categories: Last Night

Photo by Steve Cohen
An expected pleasure of the live Springsteen experience are the requests taken in the form of hand-made signs from the audience. One orange piece of poster board lobbying for "Savin' Up," a song written for Clarence Clemons' 1983 album with the Red Bank Rockers, was brought up to the stage. "We've been pretty good so far," Bruce said with a laugh. "So we can afford to fuck one up." The next minute or so was spent deciding which key to play the song, and some vamping and clowning by the band. But then -- then! -- this was a moment to behold. The firing of the five-piece horn section, the muscle of Nils Lofgren and Little Steven on guitars, and the rhythmic surge of drummer Max Weinberg and bassist Gary Tallent all felt as vital as at any moment all night. Perhaps it was just the perception that they could screw up, but moreso it seems that the E Street band is particularly well-armed for anything kissed by gospel and soul at the moment.

Just as quickly as one might settle into a soul revue, though, things turned sharply. The band banged out a rock-a-billy, boogie classic from Nebraska, "Open All Night," and then glued Bruce and Nils together back at the center of the arena for a twangy "Darlington County" overflowing with lusty "sha la la"-ing. Next, a sign request for "Two Hearts" brought Little Steven to share the mic with the Boss, and the churn of Americana continued. 

While the E Street Band behind Springsteen always had their tambourines to bang when the arrangements didn't include them, moments from the custom-built Grammy-mobile Wrecking Ball, got all 16 cylinders, including a tuba, firing. "Shackled and Drawn" is one of the rawest country-folk stomps in his entire catalog, and seeing Bruce testify -- spilling hoary lyrical guts everywhere -- was captivating. Adjoining vocalist Cindy Mizelle willingly pushed him as far as he could go, and by the end, a line of E Streeters were stomping together at the front of the stage.

And, this was only about two-thirds of the way through this three-hour marathon. No one gives in until the Boss gives the okay, and so the final hour was a fireworks display of the hits. The gritty glory of "Badlands" enveloped us, and then then the familiar harmonica strains leading into "Thunder Road" gave the entire Xcel a chance to air out their vocal cords, to the obvious pleasure of our host. If this was the end of the regular set, there was not to be any proper breather. While the rest of the band left for Bruce's spare and heartfelt solo showing of  "If I Should Fall Behind," dedicated to a married couple who had the song played as their first dance, this was but a momentary respite.

Photo by Steve Cohen
After another gospel achievement featuring the full band, "Rocky Ground," the lights came up. All of them. And it was brutal at first as our eyes adjusted, but then this display worked the final spell of the evening. Concert-goers are typically shrouded in darkness and their individual experiences, but the most-familiar songs of the night felt like a group effort.

Sponsor Content

Now Trending

Minnesota Concert Tickets

From the Vault