Bruce Springsteen @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne (Sun 24 Mar 2013)
Oh my. Oh my lord. By far, without question, this was the best live show I have seen in a very long time. I know I say that a lot, but tonight was just unbelievable.
Springsteen is an artist I’ve been wanting to see for years, but just haven’t had the opportunity until now. The shows were hyped for months before they went on sale, with a lot of “will he, won’t he” rumours going around. Eventually when The Wrecking Ball tour was announced, my excitement was pretty intense and I was at the computer as soon as tickets went on sale. Normally I get pretty good tickets, and for this show I was more than happy to spend the gagillion dollars for the good seats. Unfortunately for me, everyone else had the same idea, and after suffering through a few Ticketek website crashes, I finally got my hands on 3 (rear view) tickets- me, the wife and my brother in law. Extra shows were announced, but we’d already bought tickets for Michael Kiwanuka on the Tuesday, and the Wednesday was the day before the Easter break and we were leaving to go away at 4am the next morning. It was also our wedding anniversary. That said, we decided we’d go with what we had and the Sunday night show was locked in the calendar.
Two shows were also announced at Hanging Rock (about an hour out of Melbourne) to take place over the Easter weekend. I’ll be honest here, if I could do my time again, I would have cancelled my Easter plans and gone to the Wednesday show at Laver, as well as at least one of the Hanging Rock gigs. Bugger the money- you only live once and you can’t take it with you.
From the moment he walked on stage and yelled “Are you ready to rumble”, it was quite obvious this was going to be a big show. I’d read reviews of some of the Sydney and Brisbane shows that had taken place in the days prior, and not once did I read anything remotely negative. I was astounded at the fact that the setlists were so different every night. Apparently they had a pool of around 75 songs, and did around 25 each night, so every show was a totally different experience. On the complete opposite scale of George Clinton a few weeks ago, I would have been more than happy to sit and watch another 25 songs. I could have there for a week listening and watching this.
His crowdsurf from one end of Rod Laver Arena to the other would have been impressive if he was 20 years old. The fact that he’s 63 and does this every night beggars belief.
There were songs I would have loved to have heard (Radio Nowhere and I’m On Fire being the two main ones) but I heard so many others that I hadn’t even considered before the show, and hearing them was just fucking fabulous. There was actually nothing played from the Magic album at all that night, although Radio Nowhere was played a few nights later (I’m writing this about a week after the gig so have eyes into the future).
The songs from Wrecking Ball were spectacular- Death To My Hometown and Shackled and Drawn were highlights, with We Take Care Of Our Own an unfortunate omission from tonight’s set.
Tom Morello sharing vocal duties on The Ghost of Tom Joad was out of this world and the guitar work was breathtaking. I was too gobsmacked to get any video of that, but you can see a version here from New York in 2009. I didn’t know Morello was doing this tour until I read a review of the first Brisbane show. Although it would have been great to see the legendary Little Steven play live (also because I’m a massive Sopranos fan), I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. Morello is an incredible performer, and the fact that he had to learn so many songs and play in a band that had been doing this for decades just proved the man’s professionalism and pure talent. Add to that the fact that the setlists are rarely adhered to, and many of the songs that are played each night are decided my the audience holding up signs.
Badlands was spectacular, and one of the hits I was waiting for all night. After Land Of Hope and Dreams, the lights went down but the band didn’t leave the stage, so I suppose technically there was no encore. Bruce announced that the band had “had a go at this one the other night”, and then launched into Born In The USA which was a complete surprise. The house lights went up and stayed that way for the remainder of the show. The finale of Born In The USA, into Born to Run, Dancing In The Dark and then the closer of Tenth Avenue Freeze Out was sublime.
For me, Bruce Springsteen is now well and truly in my list of artists that I’ll travel miles to see, and will definitely be seeing more than once next time he tours over this way.
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