May 15, 2013

Notes from the road: Copenhagen

When the E Street Band touched down in Copenhagen a couple of nights ago, following arguably their most successful tour of Norway, Sweden, and Finland to date, speculation was massive as to how they could possibly follow up concerts of the scale and power of the three “album shows” in Stockholm.

Walking out on stage, Springsteen greeted the 40,000-strong Copenhagen crowd in their native tongue with a smile indicative of a man raring to go as the E Street Band launched into an especially fresh-sounding “We Take Care of Our Own.” Smiles were rampant in both the band and the audience, who were treated to “Two Hearts,” a reminder that Steve Van Zandt and Springsteen are happily reunited. Sign requests came early: “Loose Ends” elated fans and, somewhat surprisingly, the crowd sang this rarity from Tracks right back to Bruce. A fun “Cadillac Ranch” set the tone for the rocking theme of the evening, evoking singing from the first row to the last, and dancing to match even the best of Nils. “Trapped” was especially strong vocally, as Springsteen worked the crowd from hushed quiet to screams of musical ecstasy.

At the close of “Spirit in the Night,” Bruce took the opportunity to thank Copenhagen and its fans for years of love and support. With that came a big surprise: a smile on his face and a flick of his finger later, Springsteen announced that the E Street Band would play the whole of Born to Run from start to finish. From the signature opening of “Thunder Road” to the E Street-defining sax solo of “Jungleland,” Born to Run was received gratefully and emotionally. As “Jungleland” closed, to the teared-up eyes of thousands, Jake Clemons and Bruce shared a magical moment together.

How to maintain the energy from there? “Pay Me My Money Down” made sure that any concert-goers still in their seats would be up and dancing, as Springsteen led a conga-line around the front of the pit — including two additional members from the audience, adorned with carnival-style decorations. “Badlands” closed the main set, with Springsteen tearing into his guitar and the 40,000 people before him chanting the ’78 classic’s chorus, synonymous with a crowd lusting for more.

The encore began with a passionate arrangement of “Brilliant Disguise,” Bruce singing with conviction. With encore staples like “Born to Run” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” already played mid-set, the band reached deeper into their bag of tricks, pulling out a rollicking “Light of Day” and shaking Parken Stadium with a powerful, four-song stretch of Born in the U.S.A. favorites.

Finally, Springsteen invited birthday boy Jon Landau out onto the stage. To rapturous applause and an especially giddy Bruce, guitar-adorned Landau took the spotlight next to Steve, providing both guitar and backing vocals on “Twist And Shout” as a double-shot of classic covers closed the show, culminating in “Raise Your Hand.”

Before exiting the stage, Bruce took to the microphone one more time: “We’ll be seein’ ya!” As he descended into the darkness with his band and manager, the words of the late, great Clarence Clemons rang true: “This could be the start of something big”.

— Connor Kirkpatrick,