Bruce Springsteen Steps on the Gas in Detroit

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, National Music, Concert Reviews,   From Issue 649   By: Ron Brown

15th November, 2007     0

"Is there anybody alive out there?"

Before the stage lights go up on his November 5th show at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Bruce Springsteen began yet another Michigan rock and roll revival and celebration show.

Touring to support his latest record Magic, Springsteen gave the decidedly older and sometimes inattentive Palace crowd a tight, exuberant show filled with new songs and just enough classic numbers to keep the folks on their feet for most of the night.

Springsteen's opening number, the boisterous rocker "Radio Nowhere," and all the songs from his new album were delivered with sharp arrangements and unbridled enthusiasm. Aside from the first song, it was a shame to see so many people clamoring for beer and bathroom breaks when the new stuff was being played. Perhaps short attention spans and weak bladders are a byproduct of drawing an older audience, but those who chose a temporary exit missed some special moments.

"Gypsy Biker" opened with Bruce's howling harmonica, eerily reminiscent of "The River," then kicked in with the full band on yet another rocker. "I'll Work for Love" and "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," two of several songs from the new record tinged with the classic E-Street sound of piano and organ on the bottom, the steady rhythms of drummer Max Weinberg and Garry Tallent in the middle, and just the right amount of guitar work from Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt, and Nils Lofgren on top.

The latter provided one of the highlights from the Springsteen catalogue, an incendiary solo during "Tunnel of Love." Lofgren has been one of the leading sidemen in rock and roll for well over thirty years and it's a treat to see Springsteen let him stretch out from time to time.

Besides the obligatory "Born to Run" during the five-song encore, other highlights from the past included a triple play of "Reason to Believe," "Jackson Cage," and "She's the One." "Reason" was more than sufficiently revved up from its original acoustic sound to a captivating blues rock number led by Springsteen's vocals and Van Zandt's guitar work straight out of John Lee Hooker's classroom.
"She's the One" and long-time favorite "Badlands," which closed the opening  set, represent Bruce at his best  - two anthems that scream out love, redemption, rebirth - and rock and roll, the main reasons why Springsteen continues to entertain and enlighten the Palace crowd - and any crowd, for that matter - over 35 years after he joined the game.

Springsteen recently said in Rolling Stone magazine that folks who come out for this tour will see the band "at their best." The Auburn Hills show illustrated that he is a man of his word.


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