Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Hyde Park, London
Wednesday 01 July 2009
With the sun slowly dropping out of the sky over Hyde Park and in front of tens of thousands of expectant fans, the pressure was on for Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band. Hot on the heels of their celebrated headliner at Glastonbury the night before, they had a lot to live up to.
The London show was never going to be a disappointment, though. From the outset, as the Boss screamed "London Calling" before kicking off with an unexpected cover of the Clash song, he awed the 50,000-strong crowd.
His exertions at Worthy Farm the previous evening showed no signs of taking their toll on the 59-year old, as he embarked on a three-hour, 27-song tour de force. Drenched in sweat by the second number, tossing his guitars to the roadies with the vigour of a frontman a third of his age and jogging down a walkway to meet his fans and take their requests, Springsteen's intensity was staggering from first powerful vocal to final thrashed-out chord.
Promising that The E Street Band would build a house of love by "turning despair into hope and blues into joy", Springsteen performed recent highlights, including a passionate "Outlaw Pete" during the early part of the set. He then headed into his back catalogue for "Trapped" and "Seeds", before sending the crowd into near-religious fervour in the last 30 minutes with "Born to Run", "Glory Days" and "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)".
Always the consummate performer, Springsteen welcomed Brian Fallon from the New Jersey band The Gaslight Anthem to the stage for "No Surrender" as he had at Glastonbury the night before. This perhaps was the only low point in the show – the starstruck Fallon seemed unsure of his role, other than to smile at the Boss and ooh a bit.
A sombre note was struck with a rendition of "Hard Times Come Again No More" and a soulful version of "Racing in the Street" during which, he stood stock still, emblazoned in the spotlight for what seemed like a full five minutes.
As always though, he ended on a high with a stadium-stopping performance of "Dancing in the Dark", telling Hyde Park: "You've just seen the hard-rocking, Viagra-taking, heart-stopping and history-making E Street Band." Despite his sweat-soaked shirt, there was no hint of artificial assistance about Springsteen's virile performance.
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