The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Bruce Springsteen & the E Street band (Sports Arena, Los Angeles)

Bruce Springsteen liveReview Snapshot: Springsteen and the E Street band are full of rage and despair and hope and faith. Their tour is a call to meeting for people who aren't ready to give up yet.

The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10 (10 being reserved for the 4 hour Springsteen shows of yesteryear)

Full Review:
The night after Ronald Reagan was elected, in 1980, Bruce Springsteen opened his show with an especially roaring, impassioned performance of Badlands. He saw it coming: the rape and pillage that would be the Reagan years.

Springsteen's still at it, though with a new group of pillagers to confront. His defense against the Reactionary tide in America has long been to shout about where we are going wrong, but also to present an alternative view of what "America" means. It's not support of Salvadoran death squads and Nicaraguan contras, nor Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and torture.

His "America" is more about hope and decency and girls in their summer clothes (or barefoot, sitting on the hood of a Dodge, drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain).

In his current shows Springsteen is still on his mission for the soul of America. This show has a beautiful emotional arc from frustration to longing for a better life to despair and anger to resistance to celebration of what is good in us.

The show is built around two sequences that remain, night to night. Early in the show comes Lonesome Day/Gypsy Biker/Magic/Reason To Believe. Springsteen ends this bleak run with an un-cynical ray of hope. Reason To Believe is transformed into a harmonica swamp blues that would make Sonny Boy Williamson proud.

The second big statement is the sequence that closes the main set: Devil's Arcade/The Rising/Last To Die/Long Walk Home/Badlands. Springsteen says, "That thing has to come down like the world's falling on you, that first chord [Last to Die]. It's got to screech at the end of 'The Rising', and then it's got to crack, rumble. The whole night is going to turn on that segue. That's what we're up there for right now, that 30 seconds."

He ends the main set with the challenge of Badlands, again standing up and taking on what's ahead and asking us to join him.

The show is also filled with songs that compliment his themes of commitment to community (Ties That Bind, Promised Land, No Surrender, Two Hearts) and the decency of "real" people (Working On The Highway, Racing In The Streets, Night).

The show ends with American Land, the Irish-styled romp about the dream of the promised land. Complete with two accordions, Clarence Clemons on the penny whistle, and sing-along lyrics up on the screens, B.S. & band send us off inspired about what is at stake and, hopefully, motivated to bring back the real "America".

I don't know how this show will come across outside the U.S., but it sure reminds us here that we are better than our "leaders" have made us out to be.

John Ford

Springsteen's set list, Los Angeles Sports Arena

Radio Nowhere
The Ties That Bind
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Reason To Believe
She's The One
Livin' In The Future
The Promised Land
Town Called Heartbreak
Tunnel Of Love
Working On The Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last To Die
Long Walk Home

Girls In Their Summer Clothes
Kitty's Back
Born To Run
Dancing In The Dark
American Land

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