Springsteen Puts On A Great Show In Tampa. Delivers Once Again On The Promise And Power Of Rock And Roll
We left the house around 7 o'clock to make sure we'd have plenty of time to reach our seats before showtime when I faced the first curveball of the night--Bruce took the stage at 7:45 PM. I hadn't realized he was going on so early. Maybe he figured he would accommodate the early bird diners in the audience, but I was surprised and we ended up having to jog from the parking lot into the Amphitheater, which doesn't have a bad seat in the house.
There was a strong energy from the crowd in the beginning and Bruce pulled out all the stops as he must have mentioned being in Tampa a dozen times. My son has never been a huge Bruce fan but even he could feel the magic coming from the stage. We missed Bruce's opening song Joe Hill (I was thinking maybe Stephen King--a part time Florida resident was in the house) but we reached our seats by Clamp Down which got us excited. He then moved into Badlands. The show was off and running and I could see my son instantly understood the power of a Bruce Springsteen show.
One interesting dynamic of the show was that I felt last night as if Bruce was being as uplifted from his music as the audience was. I've been to shows where Bruce steps on stage and you can tell he's already in the zone and a couple of others, like last night, where he depends on his audience to help him get to that level. Whether or not my read is correct, everyone in the audience was ready to do whatever was asked.
it was a great opening sequence of songs (full set list is here on one of my favorite blogs Blogness on the Edge of Town) and I was stoked when Bruce transitioned from Candy's room to a powerful version of Darkness on the Edge of Town.
After Darkness on the Edge of Town, we were treated to the E Street Band's first ever performance of Brothers Under the Bridge. I don't know why Bruce chose to play it, or why he never has in the past with the band, but it was delivered with such emotion that I forgot for a moment it was Bruce and instead was making a connection with the veteran in the song and the daughter who traveled to find him. Simply a beautiful song delivered in a way that was worth the price of admission.
"You're seeing history," I said to my son not knowing a little more "history" would be made because when Bruce got to the 18th song of his playlist--a rousing, fun version of "Pay Me My Money Down"-- he led a New Orleans style parade up the aisle away from the stage, out into the courtyard where the vendors are set up, and marched into the bar area where one Bruce fan bought him a shot of tequila. Because I had my son, and not my wife, with me, we actually left our seats to try and get a close-up view of the Boss.
It was crazy to see Bruce march up to an absolutely stunned barternder in the middle of a show to get a drink. For a moment, I felt 22 years old again as I had a chance to get a glimpse of what it must have been like back at the Capitol Theatre back in 1978.
When Bruce got back to the stage, he said it was the first time he had ever marched to a bar mid-show to get a drink. Very cool to see.
Once Bruce returned to the stage, we were treated to an other-wordly rendition of "The Ghost of Tom Joad." The two people who made this song so incredible were Tom Morello, of course, but also the cameraman who delivered an absolutely stellar close-up view of Morello's handiwork on the guitar. The dude is simply amazing.
I've always loved Tom's performance of the song and I did see him play it with Bruce at Wrigley Field, but last night's solo was the greatest one I have ever had the privilege of seeing. I think many people in the audience felt the same way if only based upon the huge ovation Morello received when Bruce introduced him near the end of the concert.
From there, the show maintained its intensity until the end with Bruce and the band once again proving they are the greatest band in the world. I don't think there's another organization in America--in sports, business, or music--that works together as a team better than the E Street Band. The chemistry, synergy, and camaraderie they have truly creates magic and it was on full display in Tampa last night.
After a great rendition of We are Alive, Bruce played Mary Don't You Weep. It's never been one of my favorite songs, but hearing it in person for the first time and then being part of a chorus when Bruce asked the audience to sing the verse back to him definitely made clear that the "Spirt" was in the house and having a jubilant time.
There's simply nothing I can compare to the experience of a Bruce Springsteen concert. It's a privilege to be part of the audience and the opportunity to attend with my son will likely go down as one of my great memories of fatherhood.
As we left the show and headed to the parking lot, I told my son that he had just seen an example of what a person can accomplish--and the positive impact they can have on the world--when you follow your passion and make a commitment to try and elevate the world around you. It was great to see that my son understood he had just witnessed something special.
As Bruce closed the show with an acoustic version of Thunder Road, we headed to the car to try and beat some of the traffic on a school night. As I walked to the parking lot, I felt the way I always do after a Springsteen concert: uplifted, grateful, and optimistic thanks to the rock and roll testimony that had been delivered with heartfelt conviction by Bruce and the band.