Don’t tell Tony Danza but there’s only one Boss, and last night he brought Anaheim’s Honda Center to its knees. Actually, Bruce Springsteen’s knees are the ones we should be talking about. Despite his 63 years — or maybe because of them — the man delivered an absurdly dynamic live show that gave the crowd precisely what it craved. He crowd-surfed. He played fan-requested B-sides. He danced with a woman who was celebrating her birthday. He told stories about being kicked out of Disneyland in 1985. He picked up a little girl from the audience and carried her around stage on his shoulders. Nobody cherishes their fans more than Bruce Springsteen, and they cherish him.
Winding down the tour for his latest album, Wrecking Ball, Springsteen and the mighty E Street Band created a scene as raucous as when the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup, but they still managed to make the arena show feel personal. The Boss spanned 40-some years of heartland rock ‘n’ roll over a 28-song set, and nothing was out of bounds. Clocking in at nearly three and a half hours, the show brimmed with classics like “Badlands” and “Born to Run,” the rarely played “Long Time Comin’,” “Because the Night” (a song he co-wrote with Patti Smith), and a cover of Eddie Floyd’s “Raise Your Hand.” Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello joined him for several songs, from the opening “The Land of Hope and Dreams,” a soaring anthem about embracing saints and sinners alike and turning despair into faith, to the last song of the night, “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” a rumbling sing-along from 1975’s Born to Run.
Finding hope in tragedy seemed to weigh on Springsteen’s heart. He had partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County for the show and dedicated songs like “My City of Ruins” to the East Coast in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation. “It’s hard to see Asbury Park washed away, but it’ll get back on its feet,” New Jersey’s favorite son said softly. “This is a song about ghosts that get under your skin, scar your heart, and about people who walk alongside us for the rest of our lives.”
For all of Springsteen’s charisma, Morello’s blistering, wonky guitar solos nearly stole the scene, particularly on Springsteen’s 1995 track “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” a song popularized by Rage Against the Machine. After a thrilling appearance by Social Distortion’s Mike Ness, an emotional tribute to late E Street sax man Clarence Clemons and the E Street version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” the marathon set closed. The curfew seemed like the only thing keeping everyone from going for another three and a half hours.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will participate in the televised and webcasted 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief in Madison Square Garden. The broadcast is estimated to reach one billion people worldwide.
Land of Hopes and Dreams (with Tom Morello)
Adam Raised a Cain
Streets of Fire
We Take Care of Our Own
Death to My Hometown (with Tom Morello)
My City of Ruins
Spirit in the Night
The E Street Shuffle
Long Time Comin’ (solo acoustic, fan request)
Reason to Believe (fan request)
This Depression (with Tom Morello)
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Bad Luck (Social Distortion cover with Mike Ness)
Because the Night (Patti Smith cover)
Shackled and Drawn
Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
Raise Your Hand (Eddie Floyd cover)
The Ghost of Tom Joad (with Tom Morello)
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (with Tom Morello)