Bruce Springsteen Delivers Rambunctious 3-Hour-Plus Set at Palace
By Mike Itchue | MLive Media GroupMLive.com
Bruce Springsteen came to raise the rafters on Thursday night, and this time there was no doubt what city he was in.
The Palace was overtaken by the 62-year-old Springsteen and his E Street Band, playing for three hours and 15 minutes to an audience packed with devotees ready to raise their hands and bolt out every lyricwith The Boss.
Springsteen made sure to point out on several occasions that “this is Detroit,” referencing the infamous “Ohio” gaffe from his last visit in 2009.
Touring on his latest album, Wrecking Ball (his 17th), Springsteen found a comfortable mix of new songs, hits and rarities.
He led off the night with two songs off the new album, “We Take Care of Our Own” and the title track, before launching into a rollicking version of the classic “Badlands” that got everyone off their feet and let them know that the party had begun.
Some highlights from the evening here, in no particular order:
- Starting the show off by standing under a spotlight and joking that he was the only man arrogant enough to introduce himself, Bruce did just that by naming off a number of his hits before proclaiming “Ladies and gentlemen, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band!”
- Two emotional tributes were offered to Clarence Clemons, the popular E Street Band saxophonist affectionately known as “big man” who passed away in June 2011. Early in the night during an extended version of “My City in Ruin,” Bruce did a usual roll call of the band, then at the end asked “Are we missing anybody tonight?” as the audience shouted back “Clarence!” Then during “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” the final song of the night, the band completely stopped following the line “When the change was made uptown and the big man joined the band” and a video tribute to Clemens was played before kicking back into the song.
- Clemons’ nephew, Jake Clemons, is a recent addition to the E Street Band as part of its new horn section. Jake seemed to fill his late uncle’s shoes nicely, on a few occasions stepping up front and center to play the sax parts originally done by Clarence. At points in the evening Jake was even dancing and signing backup vocals with Bruce.
- Springsteen made sure to pay tribute to soul music and specifically Motown while in Detroit, referring to it as a “common language” that always got people up and dancing when he would play covers when getting his start at clubs in his native New Jersey. He then launched into a rendition of “The Way You Do the Things You Do” by The Temptations followed by the soul classic 634-5789. During the latter song Springsteen hopped onto the floor and walked along the side railing greeting fans before ending up on a barricade at the center of the main floor. He then took the direct way back to the stage by crowd surfing across. Remember, he’s 62.
- Upon reaching the line “Well I’ve got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk” during his signature tune “Thunder Road,” Springsteen went lay a lick but could not regroup quickly enough after running around with a wireless mic and instead could only muster a mild squeal. He botched a song that he has literally played thousands of times, and all he could do was laugh. He laughed so hard that he barley got out the next line of the song. But he didn’t care. He was having a blast. And so was everyone else in the building.
- During “Waiting on a Sunny Day,” Springsteen brought on stage a young male fan who was likely not much older than 10. Bruce handed him the mic and allowed him to sing the chorus of the song, then instructed him on how to get the crowd to sing louder by throwing his arms in the air and shouting “C’mon!” He then taught the youngster how to do a signature Bruce Springsteen knee slide and hoisted him up on his shoulders before handing him back into the crowd.
- Sticking with the young fans bridging the generational gap theme, during “Dancing in the Dark” Bruce was once again joined by some young fans, this time two girls around the same age as the boy who took Springsteen up on his offer for dancing. The two shimmied with Bruce while he instructed them how to move their hips, all the while with a huge grin plastered across his face.
- One last young fan story: A girl on the main floor held a sign asking for a dance from Bruce for her 18th birthday. While she was not as lucky as the other two girls, she did receive a hug during Springsteen’s first lap around the floor during the Motown medley. On his second lap during “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” Bruce returned with a gift: a harmonica that he had played earlier in the night. The birthday girl was ecstatic to say the least.
While most musicians his age (if they’re lucky to still have a career) are finding ways to repackage greatest hits collections or recording duet cover albums, Springsteen continues to write relevant music of the times and build upon his songwriting craft. Wrecking Ball is the latest example of that, as he is able to channel the current anger and frustrations in America following the economic crisis and recession that began 2008. At the same time he expose the optimism and everlasting spirit that helps us get through the hard times. But more than the songwriting, what stood out most Thursday was the sheer joy that Springsteen still has in performing. This was not a man that was simply going through the motions and playing the hits to collect a paycheck. The rang of emotions shown in his face told it all. He still has the passion. And he still puts everything he has into each show.
Bruce Springsteen has been a musician and a performer for 40 year, and he is as relevant now as he has ever been. And at 62, there are no signs of him stopping anytime soon.
Set list We Take Care of Our Own Wrecking Ball Badlands Death to My Hometown My City of Ruin E Street Shuffle Candy’s Room Jack of All Trades Trapped Youngstown She’s the One Waiting on a Sunny Day The Promised Land The Way You Do the Things You Do 634-5789 Incident of 57th Street American Skin (41 Shots) Because the Night The Rising We Are Alive Land of Hope and Dreams
Encore Thunder Road Rocky Ground Out in the Street Born to Run Dancing in the Dark Tenth Avenue Freeze Out