Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band returned to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Saturday, giving thousands of fans the show they hoped for, but some left wanting more.
He kicked off his three-hour set with “High Hopes,” the title track of his latest album, before launching into some of his more popular songs including “Hungry Heart,” “Mary Don’t You Weep,” “Wrecking Ball,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” “Pay Me My Money Down,” and a cover of the folk song “Jesse James.” He also got a little help from his wife, Patti Scialfa, for “When The Saints Go Marching In.”
The music was upbeat, energetic and passionate but Jazz Fest veteran Alison Michel, of New Orleans, noted that he didn’t play “Born in the U.S.A” and “Glory Days.”
“I wanted to hear more of his older stuff. I love his older songs,” she said.
Springsteen surprised the crowd on at least three occasions with a visit into the mass of people in front of the stage, slapping hands with fans and, at one time, accepting a beer from someone drinking nearby. He chugged the 12-ounce beverage within minutes to rousing applause and then threw the empty can back into the crowd to their approval once again.
In another instance, he pulled a fan from the crowd to boogie with him on stage for “Dancing in the Dark.”
Former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, who has been playing gigs with Springsteen since last year, sang a duet with him on “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” and later, rocker John Fogerty joined him for a couple of songs, including “Proud Mary.”
He closed the show with a hard sung rendition of “Thunder Road.”
Saturday’s appearance marked Springsteen’s third at the festival, which ends its two-weekend run Sunday.
Earlier, New Orleans pianist Allen Toussaint played and gave the fans an extra treat when singer Jimmy Buffet joined him on “Fortune Teller” and “I Wave Bye-Bye,” which he dedicated to singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester, who died last month of cancer at age 69. Winchester had become a symbol of the anti-war movement when he moved to Canada to avoid the draft.
Flags blew in the wind amid a sun-filled sky and balmy temperatures. It was a day of guest performances as percussionist Cyril Neville took the stage with Voices of the Wetlands Allstars – Tab Benoit, Michael Doucette and drummer Johnny Vidocovich – for a set that included “Louisiana Sunshine.”
“Louisiana Sunshine, shine down on me,” Benoit sang, as fans danced, many with arms outstretched to the sun.
“I’d go anywhere in the world to hear this kind of music,” said Chuck Bachman, of Morristown, New Jersey. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
In the gospel tent, multi-Grammy winning duo Mary Mary hit the stage a few minutes late but gave a standing-room-only performance of their hits, including “Get Up,” “Heaven” “Go Get It,” “Yesterday” and “I’m Walking.”
Tina Campbell, one half of the duo whose lives have been broadcast on WE TV’s reality television show “Mary, Mary,” referenced recent troubles in her marriage. She told fans about how her husband’s infidelity had brought her to a very low point in her life.
“Does anybody in the audience consider themselves to be blessed?” she asked, getting a rousing “Yeah!” in response. She went on to say she’d had “several talks with God” about the situation and realized: “I’m not supposed to let these trials and tribulations take me out!”