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Bruce Springsteen Gives Newark a Night to Remember With ‘The Weight’

Stan Goldstein By Stan GoldsteinThe Star-Ledger

Bruce Springsteen was so impressed with the Prudential Center in Newark on Wednesday night, and since it was his first time playing it, he performed a real rarity, “Bishop Danced.”

But Bruce did even better to start the encores. In honor of Levon Helm, who recently passed away, Bruce saw a fan with a sign asking for something to be played for Levon and he and the E Street Band performed an absolutely stunning version of “The Weight” that had the entire soldout crowd singing along.

BruceNewark1.jpgPhoto by Ron RingBruce Springsteen shows a fan’s sign request for a Levon Helm song on Wednesday night at the Prudential Center.

It was a memorable, powerful three-hour,  26-song show that was quite the farewell to fans who won’t see Bruce again in the U.S. until August and not until Sept. 19 in New Jersey at MetLife Stadium.

Another tour premiere, “It’s Hard to be a Saint in the City,” was dazzling.

Show began at 8:29 p.m. Patti Scialfa was not at the show.

Bruce and the band took the stage to the “The Magnificent Seven” theme.

Set list:

1. No Surrender      Nice opener, it started last Friday’s Los Angeles show also. Only second time on the tour it’s been played.

2. We Take Care of Our Own    Still sounds good. Keeps the crowd up.

3. Wrecking Ball     Of course the New Jersey crowd reacted loudly to the Meadowlands, swamps of Jersey and Giants references.
4. Badlands     Does this ever sound bad? Has opened a few shows or been in this slot.
5. Death to My Hometown     Has been in this spot since the start of the tour. Still going strong.

BruceNewark2.jpgPhoto by Ron Ring Bruce Springsteen and Little Steven show off a sign with Bruce’s mother Adele’s picture on it on Wednesday night at the Prudential Center in Newark.

6. My City of Ruins      “Good evening Newark! The birthplace of Mighty Max Weinberg who was born two blocks from here” Bruce said. “Also the birthplace of badass author Phillip Roth . There’s great soul out of Newark. I think it’s also the birthplace of George Clinton of Parliament.” Clinton was actually born in North Carolina and grew up in Plainfield, though he does have some Newark roots as well.

Bruce then noticed some fans up front and said “You two are my stalkers! I see you everywhere.” He later brought them on stage to dance with him.

During band introductions, Bruce mentioned that he was “Looking for his baby” and that Patti wasn’t there tonight, “She’s home keeping the kids out of the drug stash” and he held up the mic for the crowd to give her a cheer.

Again the nice tribute with him singing “If you’re here, and we’re here, then they’re here” for Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons.

7. Bishop Danced (tour premiere)    A stunner!

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Bruce said: “This is a good building, this building feels good. Real noisy. So in honor of that first time here, we’re going to do something for the first time! Never been played outside this building except one other time when I was a baby child.

“We got to see if we can get that. This is going to be so obscure even some of you fans are going to go ‘huh? Honey what’s that?’ ”

Bishop Dance was on the 1999 Tracks set and goes back to the “Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ” days.

It was played three times in 1973, the last time on March 2, 1973 in Berkeley, Calif.

8. It’s Hard to be a Saint in the City (tour premiere)     Excellent.  Bruce and Little Steven played off each other great on guitar licks and then Max Weinberg joined in with some pounding drums.

9. Jack of All Trades     Bruce again talked about how he wrote the song in 2009 before the Occupy movement.
10. Candy’s Room 11. She’s The One      Nice one-two punch of 1970s Bruce.

12. Shackled & Drawn       When Patti Sclalfa’s not at a show this gets played. When Patti is there, “Easy Money” is played in this spot. Cindy Mizelle comes down front to sing with Bruce at the end and the entire horn section came up front also.

13. Waitin’ On a Sunny Day Bruce, as he did in Los Angeles last Friday, said he needed his guitar tech, Kevin Buell, to come out. It took some prodding, but Buell, of Ocean Township, finally came out and took a bow when Bruce said it was his 1,002nd show. Kevin did the countoff with Bruce to start the song.    A young boy sang tonight.  He then did a knee slide with Bruce. “That takes balls” Bruce said.
14. The Promised Land     I thought this worked well tonight with the crowd so into it.

15. Talk to Me        Played for a sign request for a fan who said it was his birthday. Only second time it’s been played on the tour. Nice to hear and good to see Ed Manion get a solo. So used to Southside Johnny singing this over the years, it was cool to see Bruce do it. He did write the song.

16. Apollo Medley (The Way You Do The Things You Do/634-5789)       Bruce said how when you grew up on the Jersey Shore and were in a band, you had to play soul music. That allowed you to play VFW Halls, supermarket openings and  intermission at drive-in theaters.

He chugged a beer before doing the crowd surf.

17. The Rising 18. Lonesome Day      This is the weakest part of the show. I’ve never been a fan of “Lonesome Day” and I wish “The Rising” wasn’t played ever night. It could use a break.

19. We Are Alive        Bruce talked about how he was looking for a song to write to finish the album. He wanted to come up with a happy ending. “I needed to consult the spirits, consult the ghosts. I wanted to throw a party and go to the graveyard and listen to the voices of the dead.

“The voices of the dead inform the living and always inform the future.”

20. Land of Hope & Dreams      This has been the main set closer for the past four shows in place of “Thunder Road.” Was powerful tonight.

Encores:

21. The Weight (tour premiere)        Who would think that a cover would be the highlight of the night. This absolutely was.

Bruce took a sign from a fan asking for something to be played for Levon Helm.

Before the song, Bruce said Levon was “one of the greatest voices in country rockabilly and rock and roll. Just staggering while playing the drums! When I auditioned Max I actually made him sing..

“But Levin (yes he called him Levin) both his voice and his drumming was so incredibly personal, it had a feeling on the drums, comes out of a certain place in the past,  can’t replicate it”

Just spectacular, obviously not rehearsed but Bruce and the band were up to the challenge. Crowd was singing along at the end.

One of those memorable, magical and cherished Bruce Springsteen concert moments.

Bruce did play with Levon Helm at the Stone Pony on Aug. 21, 1987 and played “Up on Cripple Creek” and “Lucille.”

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Encores: 22. Rocky Ground (with Michelle Moore)       Gets better and better.
23. Born To Run       House lights on
24. Dancing In the Dark       Bruce’s mother was sitting in the front row off the side of the stage and someone had a big sign with her picture on it that read “The Boss’ Boss”

Little Steven took the sign and put it in front of Max’s drums where it remained til the end of the show.

25. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight!)       I’ve heard this song dozens of times over the years, but tonight was one of those special versions of it.  Bruce had a ton of fun with it and was all over the stage. He and little Steven were mugging it up.

Bruce brought three fans (the ones he joked were his stalkers) up to center extension to dance with him. Pretty cool.

26. Tenth Avenue Freeze-out       Again the show closer. Beautiful tribute to Clarence Clemons on the video screens. A nice way to end the show.

“Thank you New Jersey! We’ll see you in September,” Bruce said before leaving the stage.

Over at 11;29 p.m.

This was a great show, I’ve seen seven on this tour and this was the best for me.

“Jersey Girl” was on the printed set list (in the spot before “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out”)  but was not played. “Tied That Bind” was also on the set list and not played.

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