In the dark of this exile I felt the grace of your smile

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Olympiastadium, Berlin; June 19th, 2016

On a sunny Sunday in Berlin it was time to see “BRUUUCE!” once again. After loving, but not really feeling it in Coventry, this was another chance for me and it worked: I had just as much fun as the previous time, but was much more into it. I loved the first part of the show especially, before Bruce felt obliged to play all the hits. The setlist was pretty balanced though and the band sounded good from where we were. since we had not managed to score front of stage tickets, C. and I had seats his time which gave us a great overview of everything. It was fun watching the audience and seeing who Bruce slowly but surely won them over until everyone was on their feet. He still has that magic. 🙂

Had a relaxed weekend in Berlin before the show with a movie, a boomerang workshop and a nice walk. No GA tickets meant not lining up, just getting there in time for the show. It still feels weird to do it hat way, but I have long realized that I am too old for the GA line, specially now that it means several days of waiting that would leave me too exhausted to even enjoy the show. I’ve had my share of front rows, I can leave it to those more eager to be there. 😉
We had good seats too. They were towards the middle of the stadium, but we could see (almost) the full stage and would not have been able too if we had been closer to it on the side. We got in around one hour before they started with enough time to take a good look around and do some people watching. 😉

The show started around 7:10 pm. I expected Bruce to walk out alone as he did in Coventry, but the whole band was there, starting the show with a killer version of ‘Adam Raised A Cain’. C. and I looked at each other smiling. It had been a while since I’ve last heard this one. It brought us out of our seats and quite a some other people got up too, but there were still quite a few who were just watching for now. Nothing wrong with that though – everyone should enjoy the show as they like it. 🙂 With ‘Badlands’, ‘Out In The Street’ and ‘Sherry Darling’ the party started and more people got up. On the field, the raised hands wend beyond the pit now, the show was on the road. A surprising ‘My Lucky Day’ followed, making the fans happy and leaving question marks on quite a few faces in the crowd: “Wtf is that song?” At a stadium show that is exactly what I expected. There are bound to be people not knowing each and every song. I had fun watching the band as well as the audience. The view was good, even though I needed the screens to see details.

After ‘Wrecking Ball’ Bruce went out looking for request sings. ‘Night’ was the first one he picked. It has always been a favorite and this was a good rendition. The next one made me even happier. he chose ‘It’s hard to be a Saint in the City’. I loved it! Around that time C. and I looked at each other wondering “What was this tour called again?” I would have liked to hear a full performance of ‘The River’ just once, but I guess they got bored with that. “Can you feel the spirit?” Bruce asked us with the band responding “Oh yeah!” and soon everyone’s hands were in the air. I’m not sure ‘Spirit in the Night’ is that well known, but when the Boss calls us to raise our hands, who are we to refuse? 😀

Bruce remarked how nice and creative this request sign was when he picked one up for ‘Candy Room’. It was a box with candy glued to all sides and inside the box was a room with “pictures of heroes on the wall”. He even described them to us, noting how creative his fans are. This was one o the few times he talked that night other than asking us to raise our hands. The rendition of ‘Candy’s Room’ was amazing and by the end it segued into a powerful ‘She’s the one’. Perfect! Up to this point I absolutely loved this show!

‘Hungry heart’ as not as much of a downer for me as it usually is. I still do not like this song, but it wasn’t that annoying this time around, mainly because I spent it watching people. It’s funny sometimes how the songs I like least make others completely freak out. It must be the same the other way around too, with them wondering why some obscure song makes me happy. 🙂 Anyway, C. and I played the “where is Bruce” guessing game, because at times we could see him on the screen, but not figure out where in the trench between the pit and the rest of the GA area he was moving around. At some point it was the same with Jake and at times with Steve too. Now you see them, now you don’t. One thing I miss, being further back is that I cannot see all of the interactions between then band members. They are always fun to see, but rarely shown on the screen, because the camera focusses on Bruce most of the time.

We actually got a few more “The River” songs, including the title track, but none of the rarely played ones. The show has moved towards being the same generic live show it has been for the past two or three tours with more or less the same songs and the occasional rarity thrown in. I am still enjoying it, but I as hoping for more changes this tour. then again, did I really want to hear the full album every night? If he got rid of ‘Working on the Highway’ ”Darlington County’, ‘Waiting on a sunny day’ and a few others that feel overplayed by now and played the full River album instead, hell yes I would. Either way, it is what it is, the band seemed to be having fun and so did the audience. Who am I to judge? ‘The River’ by the way, was a lovely rendition and it made me smile when the camera showed a woman crying during the song. If after all these years, Bruce can still grab people like that, bring forth such emotional reactions, all is well, because the emotions, the connection, the way each and every member of the audience feels during those shows – that’s what it’s all about. these days, I do not always feel it, not during the entire show anyway, but as long as there is a moment or a few where I can it is enough for me. 🙂

‘American Skin’ was one such highlight for me. I had not heard the song in a while and needed a few moments to recognize it, but wow, what a great performance! It was intense. The next four songs were a bit anti-climatic afterwards – I feel all of them have been overplayed. Time to sit down for a bit and rest. 😉 ‘I’m on Fire’ I liked and ‘Because the Night’ rocked the house. ‘Land of Hope and Dreams’ still holds meaning for me too. It was a good end to the main set for me.

The band barely walked off stage before they were back for encores. It made me happy when they returned with ‘Backstreets’. While I have heard the song live many times, C. never had and it was one of her wishes for the night. Amazing version too – I truly felt it that night. The rest of the encores was the usual. Party, dancing, some people finally getting up for ‘Born in the USA’ (really?), memories of Clarence and Danny, a great call and response with Bruce yelling “Berlin” and use yelling back “Bruce” which put a huge smile on his face and finally ‘Thunder Road’. Overall I loved the show and while I have to admit it did not grab me as it used to, it is still enjoyable, still fun and one of the best live bands to see. Maybe I was spoiled with too many times up front in the early days, maybe my priorities have shifted, maybe my life has changed so much that it is harder for me to relate to those songs now, but Bruce is still Bruce. He has kept me good company so far and I know he will for years to come. For all the times his music has saved me from bad times and boredom, I will continues to be grateful. Let the good times roll!

Setlist

Adam Raised A Cain
Badlands
Out in the street
Sherry Darling
MY LUCKY DAY
Wrecking Ball
Night
It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City
Spirit In The Night
Candy’s Room
She’s The One
Hungry Heart
You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
Death To My Hometown
My Hometown
The River
American Skin (41 Shots)
The Promised Land
Working On The Highway
Darlington County
Waitin’ On A Sunny Day
I’m On Fire
Because The Night
The Rising
Land Of Hope And Dreams

Backstreets
Born In The USA
Born To Run
Seven Nights To Rock
Dancing In The Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
Shout

Thunder Road (solo acoustic)

The River Tour 2016: 2 shows down, 4 to go, next stop: Gothenburg

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