Live Review, 4/24/12: Bruce Springsteen Takes Crowd-Pleasing to the Next Level in San Jose

Categories: Last Night
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Christopher Victorio
Bruce Springsteen in San Jose last night.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
HP Pavilion, San Jose

Better than:
Every other crowd surfer that has ever landed on us.

You know how people throw the word "epic" around these days? (Let's be honest, "epic" is the new "awesome".) Well, tonight, Bruce Springsteen is epic. Like, actually epic -- in the traditional sense of the word. He plays for close to three and a half hours (which is why there is no opening artist tonight), and during that time, takes this arena on an emotional rollercoaster. There's joy, there's sadness, there's liberation, there's politics, there's... crowd-surfing.

Bruce_San_Jose_2.jpg
Christopher Victorio

That's right. Crowd-surfing. Two and a half hours in, in the middle of a soulful cover of The Temptations' "The Way You Do The Things You Do" (with full gospel accompaniment), The Boss gets itchy feet, goes on a tour of the audience, and ultimately decides to drop backwards off a central barrier, onto the front portion of the crowd. He's subsequently carried back to the stage by thrilled fans -- and we're proud to say that our sweaty little over-excited hands helped in this task. Not bad for a dude who's old enough to be some of the audience members' grandfather.

For the most part, this is an older crowd. Frankly, with these ticket prices ($100+), who else could afford it? And -- sorry Bruce -- for a man so concerned with poor people, the merch prices are insane: $40 for a T-shirt, $65 for a hoodie, $10 for four buttons. If there's comfort to be had, though, it's in the sheer value for money the audience gets from a set this long, and this insanely passionate. The band works hard. Really, really hard. So hard in fact that, at several points, we fear for drummer Max Weinberg's health. 

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Christopher Victorio

Springsteen himself is submerged in the event to a degree rare for performers that have been around for as long as he has. During "Murder Incorporated" he turns into a sweat-throwing maniac; he sings (the 37-year-old) "Backstreets" with all of the passion and furrowed-brow intensity of a song that's brand new to him; and during "Johnny 99" he and guitarist "Little Steven" Van Zandt look like they're having the time of their lives.

On top of all that, Springsteen clearly derives very real joy from interacting with his audience -- he gets in the crowd twice. He brings a grinning, but clearly terrified 10-year-old girl up on stage to dance with him during "Dancing In The Dark." He offers up the microphone to four audience members during "Prove It All Night" and gently jokes with them about their out-of-tune efforts. ("This is why I'm the one getting paid...") And he brings a ridiculously cute little boy up on stage to sing "Waitin' On A Sunny Day" with him. He promises at the beginning of the set to play until "your backs are aching, your knees are aching, and your sexual organs are stimulated." Three hours later, he's screaming in a German accent "Are your sexual organs stimulated yet?!" like an evil genius -- and it's hilarious.


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7 comments
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Old Pard
Old Pard

 OUTLAW PETE aka BRUCE SHARPSTEEN sure has alot of energy for an old man. he runs all over the stage like a mad man and he even takes song requests from the crowd like back in the 1960s. I got a lot of respect for this old rocker and fellow Harley rider. im the same age as him and im not nearly in as good shape as he is. he is very good to see live. it took me over 40 years to see him live and im glad I did finally. the band has to be in good shape to keep up with him. most youngsters in their 20s and 30s couldn't keep up and do what Bruce physically does on stage on their best days in life.

Jetsam-66856
Jetsam-66856

I also thought that woman's shirt said "Thank you for my son", but upon closer inspection, it actually read "Thank you ON my 50th". Phew.

Rae Alexandra
Rae Alexandra

Oh thank the Lord! I was horrified! Thanks so much for the explanation!

Drew Beck
Drew Beck

The singalong wasn't during "Prove It All Night" — it was during "Thundercrack." /nitpick

Ronnie951132000
Ronnie951132000

After all these years, I'm talking decades here, I finally went to a Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band Concert last night, I have read that they play on for hours without a break and last night was no exception. One of the greatest concerts I have ever been to and the BOSS and the band was A+. The crowd was definitely into this concert and Bruce was literally into the crowd. I loved their new sax man, no Clarence Clemons, never will be,  but he was real good and with the fan reception he got, he was well accepted into the E Street Band family. 

Dan
Dan

The new sax man is Jake Clemons, Clarence's nephew. Part of what made last night's show so intensely emotional was how genuinely moved Jame appeared to be at trying to fill his uncle's shoes, and how warmly and enthusiastically the crowd threw its support behind him with each and every solo. Having a Clemons on stage conveyed a continuity and legacy that could never have been captured by passing the baton to any other sax player. It's part of Bruce's brilliance in knowing what his fans want/need and giving it to them. I've been to over 40 Bruce shows and this was quite possibly the best...epic setlist, great crowd energy, and the E Street Band sounds better than ever.

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