The Boss stays switched on and tuned in

Wed, Jul 18, 2012, 01:00

Having made his reputation on knockout shows that seemed unlikely to ever end, Bruce Springsteen arrived into Dublin yesterday night trailing the sound of silence.

When the plug was pulled on his London show over the weekend, two songs into a duet with Paul McCartney, it imposed a late-night curfew on a 62-year-old who seems to be getting closer to renewed teenagehood with every tour.

When he and the E-Street Band walked on to the RDS stage, he had this time brought his own giant “switch”, which was turned on before Springsteen announced “Before I was so rudely interrupted . . .”, and launched into The Beatles’s Twist and Shout followed by The Clash’s I Fought The Law.

“Let that be a lesson to them!” he concluded before typically rousing renditions of Badlands and Out in the Street.

Where he’s been allowed, recent shows have run for well over 3½ hours. So there was an expectation among the sell-out 30,000 crowd that their €90 tickets would buy them an epic show. The Boss held up his end of the deal.

New album Wrecking Ball not only brought together the sounds of recent albums but cohered much of his political anger and defiance and brought to the show the recession-era protest of the album’s title track, Death to My Hometown and We Take Care of Our Own.

As with most of his material from the past decade, they slipped effortlessly into a setlist that changes nightly.

The most obvious absentee was saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who died last year. His nephew Jake is now on sax, largely as part of the brass section, but he was brought forward for Spirit in the Night. Clemons’s place can never be taken, but his spirit endures.

My City of Ruins, with its chorus of “rise up”, was a glorious, communal hymn to living on with that loss.

Darkness on the Edge of Town was timed perfectly for the arrival of threatening clouds. Waitin’ on a Sunny Day brought every hand into the air and a guest singer on stage – a little girl picked from the crowd and who sang the chorus perfectly.

U2’s involvement came in a request for My Hometown. The River, The Rising, and Land of Hope and Dreams followed.

Born in the USA went directly into Born to Run as the Boss plucked from the great Springsteen songbook.

He grabbed a sign from the crowd: “Only the Boss says when to pull the plug.”

Out came the giant switch again. It stayed in the “on” position as Dancing in the Dark and 10th Avenue Freeze Out – accompanied by a montage of clips of Clemons – brought the show sailing past the three-hour mark.

Only having wrestled a comedy London bobby, torn up a curfew, reprised Twist and Shout and played trad-infused American Land did Springsteen finally pull the plug.

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