Grown men and women wept as he announced that they were to play the seminal ‘Born To Run’ album in its entirety as a tribute to their late friend James Gandolfini. I could hardly believe what I was seeing and hearing as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band launched into ‘Thunder Road’ last night as the evening light faded over Coventry’s Ricoh Stadium, and the band went onto play every track in sequence from one of the greatest rock n roll records ever made in what was a an absolutely spectacular performance: it was so intense and immersive, as powerful as it gets, and this was about a third of the way into a concert where we had already enjoyed about twelve surprising, jaw-dropping tracks made up largely of audience requests. There was magic in the Midlands air and then some.
Peculiarly, from the opening ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’, sung by Bruce alone with just acoustic guitar and harmonica for company, with it’s line, ‘the highway is alive tonight’ to the rarely performed ‘Seeds’ to ‘Death To My Hometown’, I felt there was something in the evolving setlist that reflected Bruce and the band’s date with the Midlands and it’s post-industrial landscape, not dissimilar to Bruce’s own Jersey Shore, that reflected some sort of knowledge of the history of the area on the part of Bruce (if you look at the Glasgow setlist from a couple of nights previously you can see this too). It’s been often reported how he sometimes gives large charitable donations to deserving community organisations that he seeks out in the many cities visited by the band.
With a set that eventually totaled over three hours and where your every care and worry feels lifted from your shoulders as you holler along, raise your arms, dance with everyone around you as people did where I was last night, and a staggering 31 songs played I know I will never experience a concert, an event, an experience like this again, as you head out into the night afterwards feeling ten feet tall, grinning ear to ear, happy and high. It’s why I keep coming back for more. Long may Bruce and the E Street band continue….