Bruce Springsteen bosses Hyde Park : live review

Bruce Springsteen

Hyde Park London

July 2012


And there he is. Clad in a midnight blue shirt with a complimenting charcoal waistcoat and tie. The Boss. Late to his own meeting. No-one murmurs. Scarcely anyone applauds in fact. He murmurs something about 1975 and then, with just Roy Bittain’s Piano to accompany him, delicately slips into ”˜Thunder Road’.

And that is Bruce defined. Stood in a rut of mud and rain ”“ the sunshine trying to win through ”“ and then he sings your life to you. Springsteen gives life and almost transcends Idol status and popularity.

It’s hard to explain and a lot of this may not even make sense. Unless you was there. In which case you probably won’t need this review anyway.

Bruce is a storyteller. And the show was full of stories.

From the dawn out ”˜My City Of Ruins’ ”“ the poignant post 9/11 lyric that in 2012 every city and person can take heart from ”“ where he introduced the band. ”˜Who do we have in here tonight?’ Bruce sings, before namechecking individual E-Streeters. He wanders down into the crowd. ”˜Do we have a fine looking red-haired woman in the crowd tonight?’ Cue cheers and hope in the hearts of the few fine looking red haired women in Hyde Park (I counted 3). ”˜Well I can’t touch ya. Because Patti Scialfa is in the house tonight.’

At this point Bruce’s soliloquy turns to those lost and not with us ”“ Clarence Clemons ”˜The Big Man’ and Danny Federici have recently passed. But as Bruce says, they are still with us. They live forever in the voices and the music.

And we are treated to Clemon’s nephew on Sax, Jake Clemons, a man who could also be Moss from The IT Crowd’s stunt double, blowing us away with the rest of the brass section.

”˜Because The Night’ saw Nils Lofgren’s trademark guitar solo and leg spin. He’ll be aching right now and possibly smoking Cod Liver Oil.

Bruce dipped into the crowd, taking a sign from a Spanish man who, as Springsteen revealed has been following him around. He’d taken in all the Spanish shows ”“ including Madrid which Bruce labelled ”˜a big investment’ ”“ and come to London via Paris. And at each show he had requested ”˜Take ”˜Em As They Come’. And obscure River era belter that made the Spanish man’s life. He was on screen for most of the song; everyone getting a buzz off of one man’s legal high.

As they rain fell Bruce encouraged it ”“ as ”˜Waiting On A Sunny Day’ says ”˜I’m working with the rain fallin’ down’. And so he was. And so was the 10 year old boy that he pulled out of the crowd to sing the chorus to Sunny Day with him, before commanding him to shout at the stage ”˜Play it Stevie!’ to Miami Steve Van Standt.

After Bruce raped Mr. Blobby we had Tom Morello on stage for several songs including, on the 100th Birthday of Woody Guthrie, ”˜The Ghost Of Tom Joad’. We also had John Fogerty, who probably has no voice forever now, jam out ”˜Promised Land’. New songs like ”˜Land Of Hope and Dreams’ and ”˜We Are Alive’ segue into ”˜People Get Ready’ and ”˜Ring of Fire’ and impressed.

After 3 hours of songs of hope, failure, resistance and pride, talk of bankers and poverty, working class life and love, comes the big finale.

”˜Born In The USA’, ”˜Glory Days’, ”˜Born To Run’ and ”˜Dancing in the Dark’ (complete with a Courtney Cox girl from the crowd dance scene) lead to the big finish as Paul Mcartney from Wings gets summoned to the stage, dressed comfortabley in a suit and trainers.

They launch into ”˜Saw Her Standing There’ and as the first bars of ”˜Twist and Shout’ ring out fireworks punctuate the wet London evening.

And then the smoke clears. And the sky empties. The lights are still there but so too, to the right of the stage, is the imprint of Number 1 Hyde Park.

The sound has been cut. The curfew enforced. And Bruce, Macca and Co are forced to go off without an audible ”˜Thank you and goodnight.’

Only in London, my city of ruins, could you envisage this happening. That in a public park at half 10 on a Saturday, fun would be actively discouraged. And Marble Arch Tube Station was closed, as was the Victoria line.

As Van Standt later tweeted, a similar thing happened at the Beatles Rooftop Gig ”“ nothing has changed in 43 years in what he calls a ”˜police state.’

The irony of Bruce being beaten by the establishment is hard to take. But it is such a beautiful irony. And you cannot help but laugh. The gig played out like Cool Hand Luke; 3 hours 13 in total of anti-establishment songs quashed by the establishment.

It is a shame that Americans don’t get irony. Which in itself this time is probably ironic.

Set list:
1. Thunder Road (Bruce & Roy)
2. Badlands
3. We Take Care of Our Own
4. Wrecking Ball
5. Death to My Hometown (with Tom Morello)
6. My City of Ruins
7. Spirit In The Night
8. The Promised Land (with John Forgerty)
9. Take ‘Em As They Come (tour premiere, sign request)
10. Jack of All Trades (with Tom Morello)
11. Empty Sky (solo acoustic)
12. Because the Night
13. Johnny 99
14. Darlington County
15. Workin’ on the Highway
16. Shackled & Drawn
17. Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
18. Raise Your Hand
19. The River
20. The Ghost of Tom Joad (with Tom Morello)
21. The Rising
22. Land of Hope & Dreams

23. We Are Alive
24. Born in the USA
25. Born To Run
26. Glory Days
27. Dancing in the Dark
28. I Saw Her Standing There (with Paul McCartney, tour premiere)
29. Twist and Shout (with Paul McCartney)



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