Springsteen Opens Solo Tour In Detroit

The Bruce Springsteen faithful descended on Michigan last night (April 25) to help the New Jersey icon kick off his solo "Devils & Dust" ...

The Bruce Springsteen faithful descended on Michigan last night (April 25) to help the New Jersey icon kick off his solo "Devils & Dust" tour in fine, exuberant fashion at Motown's Fox Theatre.

At nearby watering holes like the Town Pump Tavern and Hockeytown -- where fans waited in the will call lines set up for prime seat holders -- Springsteen devotees from all over the country traded stories of past shows and made predictions about how tonight might differ from two "rehearsals" held the previous week in Asbury Park. The odd "Broooooooce!" ran out along Woodward Ave. in front of the theater -- much to the amusement of the notably younger Audioslave crowd headed to that group's show down the block at the State Theatre.

Springsteen put an end to all the speculation with a 24-song, two-hour and 25-minute show that featured 10 of 12 songs from the new "Devils & Dust" album, as well as re-worked versions of older material such as "The Rising," "Lonesome Day," "Part Man, Part Monkey," "The Promised Land," "For You" and "Real World" (the last two on piano).

"Youngstown" was dedicated to Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello, who ducked into the Fox for the start of Springsteen's concert before heading over to his own show. (Detroit Lions quarterback Joey Harrington was the evening's other ranking celebrity.) The show had an intimate, handpicked quality, with nothing from popular albums such as "Born To Run," "Born in the U.S.A." and "The River."

"I wasn't looking for the big rock show," said fan Mark Dickey of Canton, Mich. "I was looking for Bruce stripped down, and I got it."

Suburban Detroiter Amy Widenbaum, an active chat board participant on Springsteen fan site Backstreets.com, said she was pleased that the "Devils & Dust" show was "much livelier" than Springsteen's mid-'90s solo performance in support of "The Ghost of Tom Joad." Terri Schell -- attending the first of three tour shows - noted, "I was kind of expecting it to be more somber... but I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't Bruce 'in character' as he was for 'Tom Joad,' but it was Bruce as himself, an accomplished musician and songwriter. I felt like I was sitting in his living room."

Detroit native Jason Berkley, a veteran of more than 100 Springsteen shows, flew in from Los Angeles specifically to attend the tour's opening night and "loved it. It was great hearing different arrangements of the [new] album's songs done solo." Antti Kauppinen, meanwhile, came from Finland by way of Pittsburgh, where he's studying philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. "I've seen every tour," he said. "I was amazed by this. He approached it as a rock'n'roll show, but he was doing it alone. It had the energy of 10 guys up there."

Fans said they were relatively pleased with the will-call ticketing system, which, in an effort to curtail scalping, required buyers of premium seats to present photo identification and a credit card before receiving their tickets.

There were long lines at the will-call site prior to the show, but with Springsteen hitting the stage 32 minutes after the scheduled 7:30 starting time, the vast majority of fans made it into the house by the time the lights went down. And even though the concert was pronounced a one-minute sell-out, there were quite a few empty seats, mostly due to late prime-location ticket "drops." This allowed some fans to upgrade but without much time to get rid of the tickets they already held.

A satisfied Springsteen left the Fox about 45 minutes after the show ended, stopping briefly to sign autographs from the other side of a security fence before heading off in the passenger seat of a plain white van.