Playing the second in a three-show homestand last night (July 28) at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band delivered a three-plus hour set of almost exclusively up-tempo material, including a number of rarely heard songs.
Throughout the gig, the band proved it is still more than capable of stadium-filling rock’n’roll. From opener “Out in the Streets” to main set closer “Badlands,” the E Streeters kept the audience on its feet and singing. Guitarist Nils Lofgren even pulled off a somersault in the middle of his solo on “Because the Night.”
The encore in particular harkened back to the days of the massive “Born in the U.S.A.” tour with songs like “Glory Days,” “Twist and Shout” (featuring vocals by Jesse Malin and Marah’s Dave Bielanko) and “Detroit Medley.”
For the loyal audience, the band brought out some real surprises, including the little-known “Hungry Heart” B-side “Held Up Without A Gun.” The song, performed on request by an audience member, has only been played two times previously in Springsteen’s career. “Drive All Night” was another shocker, having not been played in the U.S. since the 1981 tour in support of “The River.”
Given the locale, it’s not surprising the show also included a number of cameos by extended E Street family members. Springsteen led the crowd in a “Happy Birthday” sing-a-long for his wife Patti Scialfa. Drummer Max Weinberg’s son took over the kit on “Born To Run,” while Springsteen danced with his daughter during “Girls in Their Summer Clothes.”
Since the death of keyboardist Danny Federici in March, Springsteen has been playing a host of songs from early albums in tribute to him. On Monday, it was “It’s Hard To Be a Saint in the City,” which was botched initially but recovered thanks to blistering solos by Springsteen and Little Steven Van Zandt. The night before, it was “Spirit in the Night.”
Springsteen’s Giant Stadium run concludes Thursday. He and the E Street Band are on tour in North America through an Aug. 30 set at the Harley-Davidson 105th anniversary bash in Milwaukee.