The bare facts: 33 songs played in three and a half hours to an ecstatic audience of 50,000 souls (I didn't count them all but this is what I gather). Bruce is 63 years old. My view: high up to the right of the stage as you look at it somewhere on level 6.
As a rule I really am no fan of 'arena' shows (as the Yanks might say) or, as we are more likely to put it, 'stadium' gigs or, to put it another way, rock and roll played to millions (I exaggerate, I know) in some kind of giant shed. Rock and roll, at least for this obsessive, should be an intimate experience, best shared with no more than a few hundred other bodies in the confines of a smallish room; somewhere that allows you to see the whites of the artist's eyes and almost smell the sweat as it exudes from their pores. I know that there is supposed to be a 'communal' experience in there somewhere but how big do you like your communes? Needless to say, I prefer small venues, am no fan of big festivals and avoid the stadium shows if I can help it. What was I doing at the enormous Millennium Stadium the other day? How else was I going to see and hear The Boss in full flight? Mind you, when I say 'see', without the luxury of the big screen old Bruce would have looked more like an Action Man strutting his stuff in front of The E Street Band from my vantage point but I think he still would have managed to convey more gusto, energy and sheer joy right up to us lot high in the stands than any other performer I have ever had the privilege of seeing in the flesh. 63 years old? Utterly amazing.
Bruce's back catalogue is so vast and impeccable I cannot think how he manages to choose a set list; what makes it even more incredible is that he changes the show around just about every night as far as I can see. It would take all day to go through it all in a blow by blow fashion but here's a condensed summary.
The tone was set perfectly just before Bruce and the band hit the stage with Marvin Gaye's 'Can I Get A Witness' utterly pumping from the P.A. For a moment even this one simple but transcendently joyous moment was almost enough to make me just get up and go home so I could grab a bunch of the greatest soul songs ever recorded and blast them from the stereo for the world to hear. I seriously could have have just listened to this one record all night but I suppose we had to give The Boss his moment. He kicked off with what was a surprise for this punter in the form of 'This Little Light of Mine', which was to be reprised near the end of the night. Third song in and I'm overjoyed to have my all time favourite Bruce song ringing around the ground - 'Adam raised a Cain! Adam raised a Cain! - this was seriously intense but did make me realise that we were not going to get a complete outing for the Darkness At The Edge of Town album like he'd served up at some other gigs.
Adam Raised A Cain
No matter: maybe it'll be Born To Run? No, for Cardiff it was more of a 'greatest hits' but very many of these were fine surprises in themselves. He did the thing where he takes requests from the people down the front (how I would have loved to have been down there as there were times that I felt so far away it was like watching other people enjoy themselves); he played a bunch of fine tunes from Wrecking Ball; he gave us incredible covers like 'Shout', 'Summertime Blues' and 'Boom Boom'; he wheeled on Eric Burdon to sing 'We Gotta Get Out Of This Place'; he spent loads of time amongst the folks at the front; he got people upon stage to dance; he chatted; he walked all over the place; he sweated, he danced and he sang like you couldn't imagine. At times he came across like a young Dylan crossed with James Brown (I even thought they'd get a cape and a crown out for him as he lay on the stage at one point).
I'll admit I could have done without the little kid singing 'Waitin' On A Sunny Day' but these Americans do love their corn piled high, don't they? From the main set, my other highlights were probably 'Badlands' and 'Roulette' but who can really chose? Then there was the encore which, I swear, went on for an hour! 'Born To Run', 'I'm A Rocker', ' Ramrod' and a beautiful 'Tenth Avenue Freeze Out' amongst other jewels but my personal peak came with the first song from the encore 'set', 'Tougher Than The Rest'. I know it's a more downbeat tune than many of the others but it has always been a great favourite of mine. Cheers, Bruce! The evening rounded off with just The Boss and an acoustic guitar playing 'Janey' and straight into a very tender 'Thunder Road'. Am I now a convert to the stadium experience? Nope. But for such brilliance I will make an exception. What a man. The band weren't bead either!
Tougher Than The Rest
Stacks o' Wax #27
1 hour ago