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Bruce Springsteen, Hershey Park Sweet Review, 8-19-08

Once again, it’s E Street Band al fresco. And it’s not like they had really scaled back performance-wise in the arenas, but tonight at Hersheypark Stadium it was decidedly a stadium-sized show. Three hours and 29 songs, with a powerhouse eight-song encore, and an emphasis on confections like “Darlington County,” “Sunny Day,” and “Working on the Highway,” which Bruce performed out at the end of the center stage thrust. Those who expected locale-specific treats may have been disappointed — not even “Candy’s Room,” let alone “Give the Girl a Kiss,” “I Want Candy,” “Sugar Sugar” or “Candy Man.” Springsteen pulled a sign for “Give the Girl a Kiss” as part of the nightly collection, but otherwise, no apparent sense of the occasion for the Boss. Instead, the Hershey show was a cover-fest: cover songs opened and closed (as in Charleston), with a total of four in the set — two of them tour premieres. First up was “Summertime Blues” to open. The next one was a tour premiere from the sign collection — “Oh my god…. we’ve created a monster!” said Bruce, faced with literally hundreds of signs, and he gave Little Steven first choice. “Pick one, Steve! We’re going with obscurity… start with obscurity…” and Steven opted for John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom.” (“Appears hastily assembled,” Bruce said of the sign, written on a box lid — with the even more longshot “London Calling” on the reverse.) Steve also picked “Darlington,” which followed — what, no signs for “Held Up Without a Gun”?
Two more covers came in the encore: “Seven Nights to Rock” had its first U.S. airing on the tour, with Garry stepping up to sing along into Steve’s mic, and the tour premiere of Them’s “Gloria” was a major highlight to close the show. “Let’s take it back to where it all started!” Bruce hollered, bringing up Joe and Johnny Grushecky to jam along.
Another tour premiere was “Part Man, Part Monkey” by request, joining “Boom Boom” to recall the Tunnel of Love Express Tour. And did I say there was local flavor? Well, not of the chocolate variety — but just down the road from the home of the “Scopes 2″ trial, Bruce sent this one out to “the Dover parents, and good science education.” “We don’t know this one,” he said (though 20 years ago, they were playing it practically every night), “See if the band can get it.” They got it, just as they’ve gotten every other curveball Bruce and the signs have thrown their way. Like taking candy from a baby.

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