Springsteen Concert Reviews from the 1999 Tour

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Oakland, CA, October 28, 1999
Set List Available
Posted on November 7, 1999 @ 1:00PM GMT

Don't Look Back

It's Friday afternoon, my ears still a bit sore from Bruce's final set in Oakland, 28 October, last night.

Unlike my fortuitous phone experience with Monday and Tuesday night tickets upfront, I was only able to buy seats way up high and to the right, in section 232. Hey, no problem, it's where I've usually sat for Springsteen shows.

Don't get me started about what happens during the slower numbers. It amazed me that some chose to pay $70 to talk, smoke, get up to buy and drink beer and then leave during (DURING!) "Light of Day." One woman asked me, right at the end of "Mansion On The Hill" where Patti and Bruce's harmonies were at their most heavenly, which band member was Scialfa married to? I kid you not. Screw 'em all, I shook it all night long like I was at the lip of the stage.

Thursday was the 19th (!) anniversary of the second time I saw Bruce, at the same venue, nearly half a lifetime ago. Like that evening in 1980, I again encountered "Two Hearts," "Independence Day," "Out In The Street," "Prove It All Night," "Thunder Road," "Hungry Heart," "Ramrod," "You Can Look," "Badlands," "The Promised Land" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out."

But it wasn't nostalgia, not by a long shot.

Bruce crafted a compassionate and magnificent show and tour that asked long timers to grow beyond memories of the past to accept who they are today, and suggested the worth of appreciating life right now. It seemed corny, but Bruce sold his point across 180 minutes of intense performance.

It was a pleasure to experience "Adam Raised A Cain," one of a few 'Darkness' tunes I have never seen live ("Candy's Room" will just have to stay in my heart of hearts). Sadly, it was apparent that Bruce's voice was a touch hoarse. Through the first few songs I worried he might have a difficult time completing the gig, he seemed to be just that much less intense with his vocals. As the show wore on, he somehow shook it off and even played longer than on the previous two Oakland evenings!

The close of "Two Hearts" greatly expanded the Marvin Gaye/Tami Terrell "It Takes Two (To Make A Dream Come True)" dueting, Steven supplying some mic-sharing harmony on several repetitions of the title phrase over and over. It really gave "Two Hearts" some uplift.

"Atlantic City" was one of Bruce's very greatest songs, and last night's performance a fine arrangement in the mold of the 1984-85 tour. He again chose to speak the "maybe someday" line at the very end before the song's outro, always an incredibly moving moment.

"Independence Day" seemed more poignant now that his dad was gone. Of all the songs influenced by his father, this one has always felt the deepest. One of Bruce's last lead guitar lines in "Murder, Inc." suddenly yielded to me a clear reference to the key guitar hook in Television's "Friction." The song was from their classic 1977 album 'Marquee Moon,' and it's not far-fetched to imagine Bruce has given this New York band's record a listen or two, given his alliance with Patti Smith way back then.

Past all the other usual show-stoppers of Tour '99, like "Out In The Street" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," Bruce gave the audience another nice little gift: a 'Joad' double shot of the title track and a tour DEBUT of the gorgeous "Sinaloa Cowboys." He advocated another different non-profit this evening, the California Rural Legal Assistance, and this song was definitely meant for them.

The CRLA help migrant farm workers in the state with legal issues regarding maintaining a safe work environment (from using only safe tools, to banning pesticides and stopping harassment) and housing plights. Their table was avoided by most before the show, like the charities on Monday and Tuesday.

The man volunteering for the CRLA told me that, beyond a benefit Bruce played for them on the 'Joad' tour, Springsteen also went *out* with them to see first hand what they do! My grandpa always said to to lead by example, but sometimes Bruce seems super-human.

The rest of Thursday went by in a blur. A stately "Backstreets," John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom" inserted into "Light of Day," even a surprise cameo by Southside Johnny for a verse of "Hungry Heart"! One can only assume that Bruce really dislikes "The Fever" to not suggest Southside sing it during the encores. During the outro of "Hungry Heart" Springsteen tossed his mic to Johnny to sing a bit more but Southside tried, couldn't think of what to do, and tossed it back. Bruce flung it again and Johnny missed! Clunk went the wireless! Johnny went off stage after the song ended.

As the band walked off after "Land of Hopes and Dreams" it finally happened: Bruce grabbed a different guitar and ran back for one more. After jokingly yelling out "sing along!" he went into "Blinded By The Light"! Even though he seemed very sheepish about his formerly wordy songwriting style, he ran through most all the lyrics with the help of his TelePrompTer. He goaded the crowd to chime in again mid-song, and finished by stomping back and forth at the front of the stage while Steven intoned "The Boss Has Left The Building." Clarence put a black cloth on Bruce's shoulders a la James Brown and then they were real, real gone.

Obviously, Bruce remained in a class by himself. And he's worked his ass off to get there.

Best wishes to all who catch this tour, no matter where you sit.

Written by Johnny Savage