From the archive: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band @ Times Union Center, 4/16/12


Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s concert Monday night at Times Union Center started nearly an hour late, but all was forgiven once the 16 musicians took the stage and gave the packed house a night of power, emotion and showmanship.

Highlights included a video tribute to saxman Clarence Clemons, who died last June; the many sax solos by Clemons’ nephew Jake Clemons, which often left Springsteen’s face beaming with pride in classics such as “Thunder Road”; Springsteen’s solo performance of his rarely played “Janey, Don’t You Lose Heart,” an outtake from 1983’s “Born in the U.S.A.,” which began with his tentative finger picking on his guitar, as if trying to relearn the song; the dueling guitar leads between Stevie Van Zandt and Springsteen during “Murder Incorporated”; hits such as “Badlands,” “The Promised Land,” and the evening ending string of “Born to Run,” “Dancing the Dark” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”; and 62-year-old Springsteen’s amazing energy and connection with his fans, pulling three people out of the audience to dance or sing with him.

Wow. And did I even mention Springsteen pouring a fan’s bottle of water down his back, then downing another fan’s beer before diving into the crowd and letting himself be carried back to the stage?

Musically the biggest thrills of the night came from songs off his much-lauded new album, “Wrecking Ball.”

The gospel-influenced “Land of Hopes and Dreams” took full advantage of all the musicians onstage, veering away from the driving rock for a more nuanced and, well, hopeful approach, supported by horns, strings, percussion, keyboards and voices. The song’s hopefulness is punctuated by an ending that is taken from Curtis Mayfield’s own gospel-influenced hit, “People Get Ready.”

“Rocky Ground” stood out for the power and poise of singer Michelle Moore, whose stunning voice integrated a moment of rap in this gospel-inflected song as a counterpoint to Springsteen’s raspy voice. This was especially poignant as she sang “We’ve been traveling over rocky ground,” and Springsteen responded with “I’m a soul child soldier,” and “There’s a new day coming.”

Recognizing hardship but also sensing hope and joy resonated throughout the evening, especially in a song like “Wrecking Ball,” with the refrain of “Hard times come; hard times go.”

Springsteen even mentioned the needs people have in tough economic times and encouraged donations to the Northeast Food Bank. Songs and words such as these have led many commentators to say Springsteen has tapped into something deep in the American psyche. The problem with such a statement, though, is that it is hard to say Springsteen speaks for all of America when his audience, at least the one at Times Union Center, was mostly white, lacking the diversity of America, of the city of Albany or even of the musicians on stage.

The one off moment during the concert for me was the unnerving applause generated by a line in “Jack of All Trades,” which pits the working class against bankers: “If I had me a gun  / I’d find the bastards and shoot ’em on sight.”

The imagined violence, no doubt, plays to real feelings of powerlessness and dejection; luckily, Springsteen counters that sentiment with the transcendent power of rock ‘n’ roll. As he said early in the night, “The E Street Band has returned, but our mission remains the same … to bring joy into your heart.”

Welcome back, and thanks for the rocking night.

Concert review
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

When: 8:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Times Union Center, 51 S. Pearl St., Albany
Length: Nearly 3 hours
Crowd: Packed with people dancing, pumping their arms and singing along

Published by Michael Janairo

Writer. Reader. Coffee drinker. Fiction. Poetry. Art. Museums. (My family name is pronounced "ha NIGH row.")

37 thoughts on “From the archive: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band @ Times Union Center, 4/16/12

  1. Wow is right. Amazing energy. I’m feeling my age the morning after, and Bruce warned us that would happen. Magical evening.


  2. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. His are the only concerts I openly cry during. It happened during the opener Badlands and again during the “hard times come, hard times go” refrain of Wrecking Ball. I’ve been lucky enough to experience Bruce live on 5 different occassions and this was the best I’ve seen.


  3. He just reaches higher and higher. My 16th show and it ranks near the top. The b-side “Janey” request was amazing. I was moved to tears by he Clarence/Danny tributes and a big tough guy in front of me had tears streaming down his face during the “10th Avenue” finale. (Patti is home with the kids, as she often does during the tours — they have 2 in college and one finishing up high school, which prompted my brother-in-law to say: “This is why he’s still singing, he’s paying for his kids’ college tuitions!” … prompting laughter from those sitting around us.)


  4. Great show as always!!
    To the reviewer, Bruce never comes out until sometime after 8:15pm, he was right on time!


  5. saw him at MSG last week (another packed house) and IMHO it wasn’t the best concert of his I’ve been to, maybe because I’m a bigger fan of his older stuff. I’ve seen him several times, including at the meadowlands, and last week was the first time I actually saw Patti Scialfa on stage.
    As an fyi–our tickets said 7:30 showtime but the garden didn’t start getting really packed until after 8:00–fans know he’s always late but then he plays with total energy for 3+ hours.


  6. I started listening to the “BOSS” in college in 1978….It took me 34 years to be able to see him live in concert and it was the best concert I have ever experienced in my life.


  7. Wow dude..Springsteen plays every concert starts 8:15 to 8:30 and lasts for 3 hours.. Bruce singing Rockey Ground is not singing “I’m a soul child” he is singing “I’m a soldier” it’s a line from the 1942 Gospel song “I’m a soldier in the army of the lord.” Good show as usual.


  8. After a dozen shows, no two the same, over the past two decades, It’s amazing to me that his energy level and connection to the audience are still as intense as ever. No one gives more in a live show. Will keep going until he drops, or I do!


  9. Bruce is blowing everyone away on his latest tour. Nary a discouraging word to be found. And at 62 yrs. young no less…Clarence would be proud of nephew Jake. Don’t care much for much of the wrecking ball songs but he played Wrecking Ball at Giants Stadium on the last tour and Land of Hope and Dreams has been a staple for some time now.
    The horn section is a welcome addition echoing back to the Tunnel of Love tour. Bruce just keeps getting better and better. No one, no one gives you a better bang for your buck concert wise. I’ve seen plenty to know going way, way back. Can’t wait for Foxboro in August.
    For all those naysayers out there who think Bruce is a sell-out and part of the one percenters get a grip. You know nothing about the man and his music. I don’t care much for the political rhetoric that sometimes is part of the show but it is what it is. With the Trevon Martin case and our still shaky, fragile economy Bruce’s music resonates with the common man or woman who is just trying to make a go of it in today’s world.
    Bruce’s music gives us all hope for better days to come. His sincerity and committment to what he believes shouldn’t be questioned.


  10. Hi Loszer,

    Thanks for the correction. I’ve changed the text in the review.


  11. I’m not so sure there is a “problem with his statement b/c his audience is preddominantly white”, it’s for ALL people who struggle in this America vs. the 1%; I get it and I have a job. That was my 40th show over 37 yrs. and he and the band get tighter and better every time. The horns were unbelievably good, although we can never replace Clarence, the Big Man, Bruce handles the transition with class and dignity for his friend and soulmate. Wish I could afford to go to every show on the tour, inc. Eurpoe, but I am in the 99%! LOVE Bruce and the E-Street Band!


  12. Bruce is a class act – he is the real deal. I was so impressed with his showmanship and his genuine character/connection to the audience.

    I had no plans to attend the concert but a last minute phone call and a free ticket brought me to the Times Union Center for one of the best live performances I have ever seen. I was not a big fan until last night.

    He has something that can not be taught but I think the younger generation of musicians can learn a thing or two by watching this genuine professional in action.

    The last comment I have is that this guy can really sing.


  13. My first Bruce show, and it was what everyone told me it would be – amazing. Tons of energy, great music, and a great crowd. The fact that he opened and closed the show with the house lights up made it even more awesome. I am 29 and grew up with his music on my step-dad’s record player, so it was great seeing parents (and some grandparents), bringing kids of all ages to the show and sharing appreciation for Bruce’s music and his ability to entertain!


  14. This was the first Springsteen concert that I have been too although it been a dream of mine for 25 years. It was totally awesome. Although his music changes, his energy and connection he gives to the audience does not change. I do like his new music on Wrecking Ball but was hoping that he would sing more of the older classics. I brought my 14 year old son that told me when I bought the tickets, “I dont even like Bruce Springsteen”…well he danced through the entire concert and left saying how great it was and that he needed to get some of his music on his IPod!!! Cant wait to see another show!


  15. Sat behind the stage in the “cheap seats”. No obstructions whatsoever!
    10 feet from the horn section which was phenomenol! Jake made the Big Man, Bruce,and all of us very proud! And as Bruce mentioned – Patti was home keeping the kids out of the stash!


  16. Bruce was right. I woke up, my hands hurt, my feet hurt, my voice was gone and I said what the F%#k happened to me? Amazing show as always. The audible that he called mid show to play “Janey Don’t You Lose My Heart” was incredible.

    #7th show since 2000 and for me it was a top 3!


  17. I was there and it was the 1st Springsteen concert I’ve been to and I thought that Jake did a excellent job on sax and for a guy Bruce’s age he sure can put on one heck of a show!


  18. Class act through and through! Where does the strength of voice and energy come to preform like that? Worth the bang for the buck and a
    most memorable show! Tremendous night of music, sorry if you missed it.


  19. First Springsteen concert I’ve been to since the Wollman Rink in Central Park, NYC, in the 1970’s early in his career. I’ve always liked him, never been an enormous fan, but I thought I should hear him at least once. I was totally blown away – one of the very best concerts I’ve ever experienced, and that includes the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hndrix, The Who at Woodstock and many others. I loved it when he referred to himself as “old” – he gives age a good name.


  20. Last nites’s show was my 7th since first seeing Bruce & the E Street Band in Montreal 9 years ago this week (4/19/03). I was never a huge Springsteen fan, but went to the show when a friend’s date backed out and have been a huge fan ever since.

    Even though the Montreal show was at a venue outside the US, one recollection that resonated was that Springsteen asked for donations for the Montreal Food Shelf. At every concert since, he requests donations to the local food banks – any veteran of a Springsteen concert knows this.

    Each tour and every show is different, but the one thing that is a constant is the energy of the band & 3 solid hours of music. It is one show that you can guarantee that the songs played live will be better than anything on an album! It is without a doubt the best show of any I have ever seen.

    Now I need to take exception to Mr. Janaiero’s closing comments about Bruce’s fans and the lack of diversity within our ranks. For one thing, most fans relate to his message because we are from the same socio-economic backgrounds that Bruce writes about – our fathers were laid off from blue collar jobs & the family struggled, but we stuck it out to make a better life for all of us. Albany does not have a large racially diverse population that had these similar experiences. Springsteen fans are mainly hardworking Americans that struggle through life hoping for a better future for their families.

    As far as your feeling that the “unnerving applause” during “Jack of All Trades” it was only that Springsteen had the guts to verbalize the sentiments of many that were victimized by the financial crisis. To be offended means you lost sight of the fact that Springsteen is a musician and entertainer not a politician. Lighten up!

    I will say this – I love the guy’s music, not so crazy about his politics, but any time he is in town I’m in the crowd having the time of my life!


  21. Bruce Springsteen is an artist that comes along maybe every millennium. Past generations had Sinatra, the Beatles and the Stones. I loved every one of them. Monday’s show put Mr. Springsteen above everyone that preceded him. Yes, it was that good.


  22. Sounds like it was the editor’s first show by the comments he made, that Springsteen vets would have been able to tell him before the show even started ie, food banks. Really the best songs were off the new album..must have missed Out in the Street on Wrecking Ball!
    Wondering why someone else like Michael Eck didn’t review the show?
    P.S. Bruce’s daughter goes to Duke


  23. The author is “Arts & Entertainment Editor?” Couldn’t he have assigned the story to someone who knew his subject matter a bit better? The constant shift between subject matter and performance makes for a stilted read or possibly a hastily written blog entry.


  24. I dare any act to follow Bruce Springsteen. Beatles, The Who, Rolling Stones, Hendrix, Zeppelin…….take your pic. In my opinion NO ONE can stand up to Bruce and the E Street Band. They are the greatest Rock N Roll band of all time, hands down.


  25. Great show! This is my 4th Bruce show and may have the been the best. A great blend of 70s/80s classics with his more recent albums, including several songs from the post-9/11 “The Rising”. Maybe one or two songs too many from the new album but he clearly has a message he wants to spread with “Wrecking Ball”. Can’t wait for the next Albany visit.


  26. I’ve seen Bruce so many times that I have lost count!! But I will say that this concert was the BEST one of his I have ever seen! I have to add that when they were doing the tribute to Clarence at the end I looked over to my left at a young guy…probably in his late teens…was crying! It is just amazing how many different age groups LOVE Bruce Springsteen! In my opinion there is noone who can even come close to Bruce…NOONE!


  27. I made the 150 Mile trip from NYC to the Albany show. My 8th show this tour and 1 more to go. Seen Bruce over 100 times and he never disappoints. I pointed that out to the folks sitting around me who did not notice it but during My City of Ruins, when Bruce asks “is anybody missing”. Show goers never seem to notice the spotlight on the organ for Danny and the microphone for Clarence, that is a very touching tribute to both lost band members. Great crowd of people in Albany.


  28. I love his music and his politics! I have been following him for years and will continue until one of us can’t do it anymore – lol I was tired the next day, just as he said. Bruce and the band are the best performers. I only wish he would offer to match donations (X5 or 10) as we know that while we can barely afford the tickets he is making a ton of money on the show. It helps to be in it together.


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