March 22, 2013

Notes from the road: Sydney, Night #3

As Big Boss Man was being piped through the arena’s PA system a familiar voice interrupted the tune. “Good evening Sydney, are you ready to rumble?” And so it began: the final night of Bruce Springsteen’s Sydney run. Being a Friday, it was a party night. The overwhelming feeling in the room was unbridled joy.

Somewhere earlier down the road Bruce had promised that at the end of any given show he wanted his audience to leave the venue with ‘your back sore, your voice hurting and your sexual organs stimulated’. It’s a fair bet that tonight he had the trifecta.

The opening gambit saw the re-introduction of We Take Care Of Our Own, Wrecking Ball and the jaw-dropping tour debut of Night. The latter highlighted Jake Clemon’s fine sax playing and, from my seat in the stands, the terrific bass of the Tennessee Tiger, Garry W Tallent.

By the time Hungry Heart rolled around, the people of Sydney were in fine voice. Bruce took to the ramp that runs through the middle of the arena and was offered a beer. In the tradition of our former Prime Minister Bob Hawke he ‘skulled’ it like a champion and forever sealed his place in the hearts of Australians.

The energy in the room was something else; one fan requested an arm to be signed for tattooing. Bruce obliged. My City Of Ruins was an early standout: it’s an emotional moment in the show, but this evening Bruce took the song to another dimension.

Australian fans have now fully embraced the idea of bringing placards with requests and Bruce is happy to oblige. This time around he reached for Growing Up, which was followed up with E Street Shuffle. God bless the good men and women of Sydney that brought the next three signs. Prove It All Night was performed with the ’78 intro’, then came Bruce’s cover of Jimmy Cliff’s Trapped and finally a beautiful reading of The River which was capped off by Springsteen’s falsetto.

Tonight it was as if Bruce arrived on stage already in fifth gear, but he kept raising the stakes. Pay Me My Money Down had the audience on their feet; Working On The Highway and Darlington County kept them there.

Waiting On A Sunny Day remains a stand out and set the scene for the final four songs of the main show: Backstreets, The Ghost of Tom Joad, Badlands and a gorgeous reading of Thunder Road.

After thanking Sydney for supporting his music for all of these years, and promising to return sooner, next time, Bruce delivered an encore that will be forever etched in the memory banks. Instructing the mixing desk to turn up Roy’s keyboard “loud”, the band crashed into a titanium tough take on Born In The USA, a killer Born To Run, Dancing In The Dark and Tenth Avenue Freeze Out. But … that wasn’t enough. Prowling the foot of the stage Bruce grabbed a sign calling for Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) and he hit it out of the park.

An incredible night, an incredible set list and three hours of power from the hardest workingman in show business… nobody does it better. Look out Melbourne …

Sean Sennett