I'm A Believer

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Sommet Center, Nashville, TN
Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's hard to talk about a Bruce Springsteen show without saying things that haven't already been said a thousand times before. His concerts really do resemble an evangelical revival as much as a rock show. There are sermons, testifying, laying on of hands and even borderline speaking in tongues. You'd think with all the hyperbole that has been written about The Boss over the years, the actual event couldn't possibly live up to the hype. Well, it does. Everything you've ever heard about an E Street Band show is true... in fact, mere words don't even begin to do it justice.

I've got to admit, for the first few songs Thursday night I had my doubts. Don't get me wrong, it was good, but I just wasn't feeling the magic that everyone who had ever seen him live before had told me to expect. But five songs into the set, he went off script and began grabbing posters from the audience on which people had written requests. He spread them out in front of Max Weinberg's drum kit and began choosing the setlist from the floor, starting with "Good Rockin' Tonight," a song they hadn't played in almost twenty years. From that point on the energy in the room changed, and for just shy of three hours, it was non-stop fire and brimstone rock and roll. People who came expecting a greatest hits show might not have got what they wanted, but you certainly couldn't have walked away from the evening disappointed.

It's hard to pick out highlights from a night that was so incredible, but several songs were so amazing that they literally gave me goosebumps, chief among them an incendiary take on "Youngstown" that featured one of the most impressive guitar solos I've ever seen, courtesy of Nils Lofgren. Even a song like "The Rising," which I'd never more than merely liked before, seemed almost overwhelmingly emotional. He also paid tribute to some fallen greats, singing a verse of "I Walk The Line" as an intro to "I'm On Fire," and later celebrating Joe Strummer's birthday with a rousing take of "I Fought The Law." By the time the last notes of "Dancing In The Dark" had faded and the band exited the stage for good, I was torn between feeling exhausted from the experience and not wanting the night to ever end. It wasn't just one of the best concerts I've ever seen (top three definitely), it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life period.

Johnny Cash - "I'm On Fire" (mp3) from Badlands
Portastatic - "Growin' Up" (mp3) from Autumn Was A Lark

More photos from the show are available here, and the complete setlist can been seen here.


Since when did Lewis Black replace Max Weinberg on the drums? :)
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