I'm a huge Zep fan, but yeah, that other kid was right.
-- Now a few hours later. Cats are sprawled in summertime poses. The number 176 is written in green marker on my right hand. 2:00 pm roll call at AAMI Park. The woman who ten years ago said "Who?" when I asked what she thought about Springsteen now has #177 on her hand after slipping out of work to do the GA-roll-call cha-cha-cha together.
Back to the second of two nights in Adelaide. I flew into Adelaide and took a taxi to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre for my GA number and learned immediately that the night before had been a 32-song, nearly 4-hour epic. It was also to be the second of back-to-back 40+ degree days. Which ten hours later resulted in Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band opening with '(Love Is Like a) Heatwave', the old Martha & the Vandellas classic from 1963.
The photo above indicates two things: I was only a few feet from center mic, and Bruce was wiped out throughout the evening. The show started late at 8:15 and ended at 11:20 and to my eyes Bruce was unusually affected by Adelaide's brutal conditions. Had he spent too much energy the night before? A wonderful bloke named Todd who I met at the AEC parking lot -- and who is now a friend for life -- mentioned hearing Bruce's voice break during the acoustic numbers that closed the show the night before. Bruce's voice gave out during the sixth song -- 'High Hopes' -- but he persevered. When I mentioned my belief that Bruce had struggled with his voice to others after the show they thought I was nuts. Had I heard wrong? He pulled a sign from the crowd for 'Promised Land' but struggled to sing it ... or did he? Being that close meant having an unusually intimate vantage point, and my perception that his voice simply wasn't there isn't meant as criticism. If anything, watching the man work when his voice wouldn't cooperate was awe-inspiring, especially as he and Jake collaborated on a spine-tingling 'Jungleland'.
Other highlights? During this soft-infested Australian summer it was perfect to hear 'Backstreets'. 'Better Days' was a request via one of the strangest signs I've ever seen (see below) and was richly augmented by the backing vocals of Cindy Mizelle, Curtis King and Michelle Moore. A phenomenal one-two of 'The River' and 'American Skin (41 Shots)' reminded you that Springsteen is a rare breed of arena/stadium rocker -- he writes songs that cut to the bone. The energy of 'Radio Nowhere' carried over to 'Lonesome Day'. Bruce teaching the horn section how to play John Fogerty's 'Rocking All Over the World', a longtime E Street Band classic. And on a night when to me Springsteen had to work especially hard to please his audience, it was never more appropriate to hear a stripped-down 'Work for Your Love' during the acoustic encore.
|"Your love is like a heatwave ... burnin' in my heart ..."|
|Best backup singers on the planet.|
|We're the muthafucking E Street Band.|
|Jake literally and figuratively towers during 'She's the One'.|
|Bruce gave Nils room to twang and twirl during 'Cover Me'.|
|Oceans ripple during the intro to 'High Hopes'.|
|'Just Like Fire Would' continued to evolve into a Bruce & Steven showcase.|
|Bruce spotted this sign on the seated section of the floor and had it passed to him. He, in turn, carried it to the stage. Me and another large bloke held Bruce over our heads as we pushed him onto the stage. Ladies, eat your hearts out ......|
|'The River'. Gorgeous.|
|Good to see a man at the top of his game.|
|Cindy Mizelle again made hearts stop during her 'Shackled and Drawn' solo.|
|Again, as to my ears and eyes Bruce was struggling with his voice, I thought Tom Morello was even more fired up than usual during 'Ghost of Tom Joad' as if he rallying behind his Boss.|
|The funky prince of E Street.|
|Bruce wore his bandleader hat as 'Hunter of Invisible Game' was played for the first time.|
|It was a hot night in Adelaide.|
|Steven's 'Jungleland' solo.|
|After Jake's massive 'Jungleland' solo, Bruce went over and leaned on him for a few moments.|
|Steven and friend during 'Dancing in the Dark'.|
|'Raise Your Hand' led Bruce to venture back into an even more predominately white, male crowd.|
|Steven orchestrating the crowd like a pasty-faced symphony during the intro to 'Tenth Avenue'.|
|Despite rebelling vocal chords, Springsteen maintained the Aussie routine of closing the shows with two acoustic numbers. On this night, song #1 was 'Work for Your Love'.|
|'Thunder Road' was performed with frayed voice and a giant, invincible heart.|
|"It's a town fulla losers, we're pullin' outta here to win ...."|