Tonight I’ve got dirt on my hands but I’m building me a home

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Red Bull Arena, Leipzig; July 7th 2013

Back at my hotel after the show I sent an email to a friend stating: “I did the right thing. After 26 years and 64 shows Bruce still has the ability to make me smile like a lunatic and then cry all in the span of five minutes.”

Four songs I had never heard live before, two of which I’d been wanting to hear, old friends I had not seen in ages, perfect summer weather, a good spot at the back of the pit with room to dance, a relaxed Bruce and an overall solid setlist – that sums up my only Springsteen show this year.

When the tourdates were announced, I bought tickets for six shows: Stockholm (May 11th), London (June 15th), Paris, Mönchengladbach, Leipzig and Belfast. Yet this year turned out not to be a Bruce year for me and I sold all other tickets in favor of attending other concerts of artists more important to me right now. So far I’ve read all the setlists and despite knowing I would have loved London and Mönchengladbach I don’t have any regrets, because what I got instead meant so much to me. Also, the great advantage of only one show is that pretty much anything goes. I had no expectations whatsoever, hoped for a few favorites, maybe a rarity and having last seen Bruce in Helsinki the previous year, there weren’t any songs I was tired of already.

What I received was a relaxed night of tunes I like and a few surprises thrown in. sure, I could have done without ‘Hungry Heart’, ‘Bobby Jean’ or ‘Born in the USA’, but he opened with ‘Roulette’, a song I’ve always wanted, but never expected to hear, I got great renditions of ‘Lucky Town’ and ‘Human Touch’, a fun ‘Sherry Darling’, ‘Cadillac Ranch and ‘Open all night’ and – as if this were not enough already – a version of ‘Back in your Arms’ that was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. No complaints here!

Made the track to Leipzig around noon together with my friend B., a Bruce first timer. Unfortunately she had a seat and I had a front of stage ticket so we would not see the show together, but we would both be there. Arrived at the stadium around 5 p.m., immediately ran into A. and her son G., hung out in the shade until it was time to get in line. Getting in and finding a good spot in the pit was all very relaxed. Waited, met more people, chatted to pass the time.

Bruce was late as expected, but all that was forgotten with ‘Roulette’. It was a great performance too. When ‘Lucky Town’ started I immediately remembered what the first line was, but felt unable to name the song, only knew it as one I’d been wanting to hear for a long time. With ‘Badlands’ Bruce moved into more familiar (read: more often played) territory. I have heard this song so many times, but I still find myself singing along at the top of my lungs pumping my fist. These words still strike a chord with me. ‘Death to my Hometown’ brought the first song from the current album. Only three more (‘Wrecking Ball’, ‘We take care of our own’ and ‘Shackled and drawn’) followed during the course of the evening.

While Bruce collected request sings from the crowd, I took a look at the people around me. Some were happily lost in the music, others spent their time chatting instead of listening. Chatting? Really? Well, whatever floats your boat. Always on the lookout for familiar faces I saw B. on the screen a few times and wondered just how long she had been in line for that front row spot. With an armful of signs Bruce returned to the main stage and looked through them. The first he picked was ‘Sherry Darling’ – party time and absolutely fine with me. The people at the front jumped, some of the ones in the back danced, happy to have room for it.

Bruce commented that every night they tried to pick one song they had not played in a long time and chose Chuck Berry’s ‘You never can tell’. A. noted that it had been played in Bilbao, but that was not on this tour so maybe 4 years ago can count for “a long time” :D. either way, I enjoyed it as it was one song I’d never heard him play. The next request, however, took the crowd. Bruce announced that “We only play this once in a great while.” and searched for the sign he spotted earlier. When he found it and held it at the camera for a few seconds I cheered. I had only heard this one live twice before. The band had to try a bit before they found the right keys and actually started playing, but what followed might have been the most beautiful rendition of ‘Back in your arms’ that I have ever heard. My tears started flowing immediately.

Of course Bruce had to go and play ‘Hungry Heart’ right after it, a song I could have easily done without, but at that point I would have forgiven him pretty much any song choice. ‘Spirit in the Night’ followed and Bruce took the chance to walk to the side of the stage, shake hands, sign an album for a little girl and dance with one of the red cross workers standing on the far left side. 🙂 I ran to the front to take a closer look for a little while, then went back to my original spot. The show rally picked up speed with the next three songs, delivered like punches. With a surprising ‘Human Touch’ I was able to scratch another never heard live song off my list.

‘Open all Night’ was pure fun and ‘Cadillac Ranch had a bunch of fans doing a conga line through the back of the pit from right to left and back again. 😀 Soon the inevitable “get a kid up on stage” happened and was done with, then two more songs before the main set ended with a rocking ‘Light of Day’. It had been much fun this far!

Soon, Bruce and the band were back and Bruce spoke about the show in East Berlin in 1988 and how memorable it was, then dedicated  ‘Born in the USA’ to the people who were old enough to attend. From here on in it was your regularly scheduled programming. Expected, heard many time over, but still the songs that make me want to jump and dance and I did. For ‘Dancing in the Dark’ he first picked a woman to dance with, then a little girl to play guitar. The latter looked a little bit lost up there on stage with him, but was smiling happily when he carried her back to her family.

‘Tenth Avenue freeze-out’ brought memories of Clarence and Danny again, yet Bruce would not leave us in a sad mood and added ‘Rocking all over the world’ to the mix. The band left the stage and I could have happily walked home then, but we were in for one more tread: A solo acoustic ‘Thunder Road’. This everything came full circle and once again I had tears in my eyes at the end of this great show. This is the one song I never grow tired of, no matter how many times I hear it and it was the perfect closure to my one Bruce show this year.

Thank you Bruce, thank you E Street Band. You’ve still got it!

Setlist

ROULETTE (tour premiere)
LUCKY TOWN (tour premiere)
Badlands
Death To My Hometown
Sherry Darling
YOU NEVER CAN TELL (Chuck Berry cover – tour premiere)
Back In Your Arms (sign request)
Hungry Heart
Spirit In The Night
Wrecking Ball
We Take Care Of Our Own
Murder Incorporated
Human Touch
Open All Night
Cadillac Ranch
Shackled And Drawn
Waitin’ On A Sunny Day
Lonesome Day
Land Of Hope And Dreams
Light Of Day

Encore:
Born In The U.S.A. (dedicated to the people who were at the ’88 concert in Berlin)
Born To Run
Bobby Jean
Dancing In The Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
Rockin’ All Over The World
Thunder Road (solo acoustic)

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