November 19, 2012

Notes from the road: Kansas City, MO

As the lights came up on the stage of the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Bruce greeted the crowd by saying that “when you come to Kansas City, you can’t resist playing this song – so we’ll play it first!” The E Street Band launched into a brash, flamboyant arrangement of the Leiber & Stoller rhythm and blues classic. Featured prominently, the E Street Horns came to the front of the stage for the last third of the song and helped Bruce lead the crowd in the “hey, hey, hey, hey” closing verse.

Following an energetic run through “Prove It All Night,” “Candy’s Room,” and “She’s the One” (with the “Not Fade Away” introduction), Bruce prefaced “My City of Ruins” by greeting the audience, “Hello, Kansas City, Missouri… That’s the ‘Show-Me’ State? We’re here tonight because we’re gonna fuckin’ show you something. We didn’t travel all this way for nothing!”

Several requests were granted tonight, starting with “Fire,” a sign that Steve specifically pointed out to Bruce. The next sign pulled out of the pile resulted in a particularly delicate performance of “Incident on 57th Street,” Bruce conducting Roy Bittan to carry the piano outro of “Incident” straight into “Because the Night,” to great effect. Usually a spotlight moment for Nils Lofgren, Bruce surprised everyone by instead calling for Steve Van Zandt to take the guitar solo, and he stepped up with aplomb as both Bruce and Nils watched approvingly.

The band’s previous scheduled stop in Kansas City, on the Working on a Dream tour, had to be cancelled due to the death of Bruce’s cousin, Lenny Sullivan. That night back in 2009 was to have included a performance of the entire Born in the U.S.A. album, so it was perhaps not coincidental that Bruce included a triple-shot of rarities from that album in the middle of this show:  “Cover Me” (as requested by a brassiere thrown on stage on which the song’s title was written, much to Bruce’s amusement), a powerful rendition of “Downbound Train,” and the ladies’ favorite (judging by the crowd reaction), “I’m on Fire.”

Opening the encore, Bruce recalled the show cancellation, noting that “I hope we didn’t inconvenience our fans too badly” and that cancelling was “something that we don’t take lightly.”  He then proceeded to dedicate “My Beautiful Reward” to Lenny: “he was a good soul.”  It was beautifully played by the band, with solos from Soozie on violin and Nils on the pedal steel guitar.

This rarely-played track from Lucky Town was a poignant choice, particularly as the band dropped out for Bruce to sing the final verse:  “Tonight I can feel the cold wind at my back / I’m flyin’ high over gray fields, my feathers long and black / Down along the river’s silent edge I soar / Searching for my beautiful reward.”

– Glenn Radecki & Caryn Rose,