Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band

Photos by Chris Zwaagdyk

Photos by Chris Zwaagdyk

By Wal Reid

Artist: Bruce Springsteen

Date / Venue: Saturday February 25th, 2017 - Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

I recently overheard this week in one of Auckland’s fine eating establishments, someone mention that Bruce Springsteen still looked “cut” in a girl-fan crush kind of way.  I’m inclined to agree; I mean, anyone who can rock wristbands at 67 years of age and play a mean guitar is a fucking demi-god in my books.

Ok, so he didn’t play Born In the USA or Fire, but you could forgive The Boss for coming up short on those two as he rocked the Auckland crowd with a trademark monster-set, including a stirring My City Of Ruins, a song about his hometown Ashbury Park.

“This is a song is about putting something back together after it’s fallen apart.. because things fall apart,” it was also coincidently, the song used in the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes which Springsteen paid homage to with the Auckland audience.

Rocking the red plait shirt and ear piercings, The Boss strutted the stage with his E Street Band as he launched into Darlington County trading verses with guitarist Nils Lofgren, the perfect warm-up to Working On The Highway before getting the crowd go nuts on Glory Days from his album Born in the USA.

“Steve, it’s ass-shaking time,” motioned Springsteen to his mate, as the song hit crescendo point, much to the delight of the audience watching the big screen.

Springsteen is the ‘All  American’ folk hero, his songs have influenced many a songwriter and continue to add to his legacy, like his lyrics, Springsteen evokes all that is good about Americanism, his social commentary reads like a ‘lonely planet’ guide book. It

As any demi-god would require, there was a band of ‘merry men’ plus wife Patty Scialfa playing to the beat of Springsteen’s song.  Guitarist Nils Lofgren let loose soloing on songs Youngstown plus a fantastic version of Patti Smith’s Because The Night, showing he still has the chops of most half his age.

‘Outgoing’ counterpart Stevie Van Zandt wasn’t to be outdone and was splendidly adorned in earrings and trademark bandanna joining Springsteen on the mic on backing duties while hacking out those guitar chords. Saxophonist Jake Clemons had ample room featuring his solos, especially on Dancing in the Dark which would have made his uncle Clarence proud.

A man of few words, letting loose with a couple, “One more for New Zealand” on the finale Thunder Road or “ E Street loves you,” it was a night accentuated by old classics and newer tunes, his voice spanning the generations as reflected in the diverse crowd in attendance.

But Springsteen was in his element, audience in tow, one man and his guitar, a perfect marriage under the clement Auckland air. Picking a favourite song is like asking “How long is a piece of string?”, however American Skin (41 shots), The River and Shout were pretty close to a near-perfect playlist.

The latter Shout’s, E Street treatment gave it a legit Black Gospel choir feel as drummer Max Weinberg and bassist Garry Tallent worked up a sweat on the Isley Brothers tune as Springsteen wailed like it was ‘church-time’. 

With the New Zealand & Tino Rangatiratanga flags framing the big screen of Springsteen’s high definition visage to the masses, one couldn’t help think Springsteen would be prefect in some role to help further our relationship with the US, set-up shop in Christchurch perhaps?

Perfect weather for a perfect night, just the way it should be.