August 20, 2012

Show report: Foxboro, MA

Bruce and the E Street Band wasted no time setting the tone for Saturday evening’s show at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA, charging out of the gate with a high-energy quartet of audience-engaging classics, “My Love Will Not Let You Down,” “Night,” “Out in the Street,” and “Hungry Heart.” The energy throughout the packed stadium was enormous, with loud, boisterous fans ready to rock. Before the night was finished, Gillette would be treated to eleven songs not played at nearby Fenway Park, including two tour premieres.

Highlights included a rousing “Spirit in the Night” followed by Bruce collecting sign requests from the audience. Fans were calling for songs from deep within the songbook, prompting Bruce to declare, “You are challenging the E Street Band!” The collection ultimately produced a trio of rarities: the tour debut of “Open All Night” — in a boogie-woogie arrangement, with tremendous performances by the E Street Horns — along with two songs from Bruce’s first album, “Growin’ Up” and “Lost in the Flood.” The latter is rarely played but always intense, and Bruce delivered an absolutely searing guitar solo.

“Because the Night” and “She’s the One” brought the rock ‘n’ roll energy to a maximum peak, culminating with a beautiful rendition of “Racing in the Street” spotlighting  “Professor” Roy Bittan on piano.

The real surprise of the evening opened the encore, with the jaw-dropping version of “Jungleland,” its first U.S. airing since the death of the Big Man (and a song many wondered if the E Street Band would ever play again). This final evening of what amounted to a three-night Boston stand seemed an apt time to share the song that best evokes the spirit and soul of Clarence Clemons. Jake Clemons nailed the solo, bringing many to tears, while Bruce gave a truly impassioned performance.

– Neil Van Harte,