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