Springsteen Concert Reviews from the 1999 Tour

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East Rutherford, NJ, July 15, 1999
Set List Available
Posted on July 17, 1999 @ 10:00AM GMT

After a season in Europe, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band came home last night to a crowd that knew all the words, all the riffs and the right way to say welcome back.

Bruce Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt perform to a sold-out crowd of 20,000 at the Meadowlands last night. "Brooooce!" was the only audible syllable when the band hit the stage of the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford at 8:10 p.m.

The members of the reunited E Street Band filed on stage one by one, ending with Clarence Clemons, who strode regally in a gray suit and solemnly received his accolades. Then came Springsteen.

"Good evening, New Jersey," he said with a broad smile.

They opened with "My Love Will Not Let You Down," as Max Weinberg's drums flew into action. The equally rousing "Promised Land" followed, with exceptional solos by Clemons on saxophone and Springsteen on harmonica.

Toward the end of his three-hour show -- the first of a record-breaking 15 sellouts here -- Springsteen described the tour as "the rebirth and rededication of our band." He added: "I want to thank you for a nice welcome home. It couldn't have been any better."

The interaction between Springsteen and his band seemed comfortable and the chemistry seemed genuine -- Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt playing guitars and singing together on "Two Hearts;" Springsteen and Nils Lofgren sharing a microphone on "Darlington County;" Springsteen and guitarist Patti Scialfa, his wife, harmonizing on a countrified arrangement of "Mansion On The Hill."

The musicians were arranged on stage like rows on a chess board: Springsteen front and center, with Lofgren and Clemons on his right and Van Zandt and Scialfa on his left.

Weinberg's drum kit was behind Springsteen and the drummer was flanked by Roy Bittan and Danny Federici, both on keyboards.

For opening night, Springsteen mainly stuck to material he played on the European leg of the tour and at his two warm-up shows in Asbury Park in March. Fleshed-out versions of his solo material, notably "Youngstown," appeared along with old hits such as "Badlands" and "Darkness On The Edge Of Town."

Sometimes Springsteen tampered with crowd favorites such as "The River." The stark bitter elegy was fitted with a slower tempo and a mournful introduction with saxophone and harmonica.

The evening had its comic moments. During an extended version of "Tenth Avenue Freezeout" Springsteen claimed he was channeling the energy of pop star Ricky Martin.

He also led the audience in a train whistle shout ("Whooo Whooo") during "Light Of Day."

And best of all, he resurrected "Freehold," the acoustic song about his hometown that he performed during his 1996 concert at his elementary school, St. Rose of Lima.

He added some new lyrics this time, making reference to his father's death and to the Borough Council's decision not to erect a statue of him because of the cost.

Cries of "Brooooce!" began in earnest at 7:50 p.m. as fans filled the arena. Beach balls bounced from row to row as recorded music by Lucinda Williams, Richard Thompson and The Clash boomed from speakers on stage. All that energy continued throughout the show as fans began pumping fists and waving flags during "Darlington County."

Many fans had been tailgating since lunchtime. Fans in the first 17 rows headed into the arena earlier than most, perhaps anxious to pick up their tickets and be sure of their seats. As an anti-scalping measure, fans in that section had to pick up their tickets on the day of the show with two forms of I.D.

Written by Kelly-Jane Cotter