Springsteen Concert Reviews from the 1999 Tour

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Boston, MA, August 21, 1999
Set List Available
Posted on August 22, 1999 @ 9:00AM GMT

Nirvana strikes again - the Boss is back in Boston and back with the E Street Band, his accomplices on so many rock 'n' roll conquests.

Bruce Springsteen has owned Boston for two decades, and he put another chokehold on the city last night, wringing as much emotion as humanly possible out of this sellout crowd of Bruce fanatics - many of them older, but still capable of shouting themselves silly.

When last in town three years ago, Springsteen performed solo at the Orpheum Theatre, letting ''the hard times roll,'' as he put it, on a series of protest-minded, John Steinbeck/Woody Guthrie-inspired songs on his pensive ''Tom Joad'' tour.

But the good times were definitely rolling again last night with this much-hyped, but much-delivered, reunion with his E Street Band compadres - the first of five FleetCenter sellouts.

''It's all right now to have a good time!'' Springsteen screamed to the believers, who listened as he warmed up slowly at the beginning, but caught fire midway through, socking into a run of party anthems that took the crowd over the moon.

Springsteen, now 49 years young, didn't give the audience much rest. Rat-tat-tat, here comes the next song and you'd better be ready. Exhaustion is simply not in his repertoire. He's talking less on this tour than ever before, preferring to play more songs with less elucidation, which was just fine with last night's dance-pumped crowd (a single-show FleetCenter record of 19,714 fans).

Springsteen did talk about the Boston Food Bank, recommending it in his prelude to a rare laid-back tune, ''The Ghost of Tom Joad.'' But most of the time he was rocking, as he romped through a quarter-century of definitive American music.

As they did during their opening night in their home base of New Jersey last month, the E Street Band filed out one by one to the stage, led by Springsteen's wife, Patti Scialfa, and climaxing with wide-body saxophonist Clarence Clemons (still affectionately known as ''the Big Man'') and, finally, the casually dressed Springsteen, who looked as if he just walked over from his factory job.

They opened with ''Ties that Bind'' and the erotic ''Prove It All Night,'' leading to the poppy ''Two Hearts,'' showcasing Springsteen's incurable romanticism.

But then he shifted to the more demanding ''Darkness on the Edge of Town,'' the country ballad ''Mansion on the Hill'' (with a pronounced Hank Williams influence), and a sharply reworked ''The River.'' He opened the latter with a mournful harmonica solo and ended with the kind of darkly Southern, keening vocal wail that he started experimenting with on the ''Tom Joad'' tour.

Up to this point, Springsteen had played all of the lead guitar solos (an area in which he continues to improve), but he uncorked Nils Lofgren for a blistering solo on ''Youngstown'' that seemed to ignite the whole band.

Rock heaven followed with an explosive ''Badlands'' (talk about classics), the strutting ''Out in the Street,'' and a bruising ''Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out'' framed around a few choruses of Al Green's ''Take Me to the River.'' It contained a Springsteen mini-speech about ''the river of love, of companionship, and of cold beer.''

A fairly superficial ''Where the Bands Are'' (from his boxed set, ''Tracks'') stunted the momentum, but he quickly atoned with a walloping ''Working on the Highway'' ''Meeting Across the River,'' a restyled, startlingly more elegant ''Jungleland,'' and a jolting version of Joan Jett's ''Light of Day,'' with drummer Max Weinberg setting as herculean a pace as the workhorse Springsteen.

Encores included the acoustic ''Freehold'' (a tongue-in-cheek tune about coming of age in his New Jersey hometown, with intimate revelations about his awkward love life), ''Bobbi Jean,'' a high-electricity ''Born to Run,'' ''Thunder Road,'' ''If I Should Fall Behind,'' and ''Land of Hope and Dreams.'' One's money's worth was heartily received.

Written by Steve Morse