May 29, 2013

Notes from the road: Hannover

“Who’ll Stop the Rain” didn’t need to be played in Hannover. The warm and sunny weather in the Northern part of Germany made a huge contrast to the pouring rain of the previous two shows, in Munich in particular, and Bruce and the band clearly appreciated it. He told the Hannover crowd, “It was cold in Munich, it was rainy in Munich, it was windy in Munich!” The crowd of 40,000 people went wild when the show started with “Land of Hope and Dreams”; “No Surrender” and “My Love Will Not Let You Down” followed through on that energetic start.

During “Hungry Heart” a fan handed Springsteen a beer; he saluted the beer-loving Germans and chugged it, with great delight from the crowd. As the first notes of “Spirit in the Night” reached the audience, Bruce asked for another beer — which, of course, he got. In the middle of the song he lay face-down on the stage, joking, “It must be the beers.”

Bruce took not only beers but a lot of signs from the audience as well, throughout the night. The most extraordinary one was an emphatic request: “I would give my right testicle to hear ‘Drift Away.’” Bruce stared at it for a moment and said, “Now, we don’t really know this song…” and though he decided to give it a shot, “I do want the man to go home with both testicles.” He played a beautiful version of Dobie Gray’s 1973 hit single, starting the song alone on acoustic guitar with the band joining in later for a powerful finish.

The E Street Band was in perfect shape. There was a blistering, whirling dervish solo from Nils Lofgren during “Because the Night” — he took over the stage and completely owned the song. And Max, more powerful than a locomotive, played as if his life was depending on it. He even duelled with percussionist Everett Bradley a couple of times.

During the intro to “Open All Night,” Bruce told the audience: “I see some of my Germans sitting down!” He promised that everybody would be out of their seats within 30 seconds, and he kept his promise. Everybody danced like crazy throughout the song from the Nebraska album that got its party makeover on the Seeger Sessions tour.

The night rocked on. Not only was the setlist full of rocking songs like “Johnny 99,” “Murder Incorporated,” and “Radio Nowhere,” but the audience was also extremely lively. The crowd jumped and sang until their knees hurt and their throats were sore, and the close of the main set took things even higher with “Light of Day.”

Bruce kicked off the encores with a tour premiere. Two signs asked for “Roll of the Dice,” from 1992’s Human Touch, and Bruce decided to give it a shot: “We just did some really good ones, so if I fuck this one up it won’t be so bad!” He didn’t — it was a beautiful, solo-acoustic version of the song.

Following this quiet and humble performance, it was again time to rock. After a rollercoaster ride that consisted of “Born to Run,” “Born in the U.S.A.,” “Seven Nights to Rock” and “Dancing in the Dark,” Bruce looked exhausted. But he wasn’t done yet. He took a boxing stance and jumped around the stage while challenging the audience to keep on dancing.

After almost three-and-a-half hours, the show ended with an energetic “American Land” where Bruce thanked everyone for being a great audience. With the words “Wir lieben euch!” — We love you! — the Boss and the E Street Band left the stage. Fifteen minutes after the show, rain was suddenly pouring down. But people didn’t care and kept on singing Bruce songs in the streets of Hannover, while walking home.

— Liselotte Schüren,