Saturday, 5 April 2014

High Hopes 2014 Oz/NZ Tour: Top 100 photos

At the conclusion of 2013's Wrecking Ball tour I had a look at photos snapped in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Hanging Rock and posted what I called a Top 25 Photos. This year, after seeing shows in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland, NZ, it's got to be a Top 100. Call it a lack of willpower or an overabundance of great shots or an inability to let go of the streak of joy that was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Australasia in 2014. Whatever. A hundred it is.

[Photos are in chronological order -- putting them by order of preference would be too gut-wrenching.]

7 Feb 2014: Perth night 2

Ladies and gentlemen ... a little over a year since their last journey to these distant shores ... your legendary E Street Band.

After showing off the contents of a gift bag to a camera, Bruce held it aloft while being carried to the stage, all the while saying, "My gift! My gift!"

Mardi Gras magic in Perth.

You know Bruce is working for the love when he sings from the rear of an arena.

8 Feb 2014: Perth night 3

"Highway to Hell" made its debut on this night. It was fucking incredible.

Jake sees Bruce off as he falls atop a sea of hands ... and is there to greet him when he reaches the stage.

One of my favourite photos from this tour.

Last year, Cindy stood on the thrust beside Bruce during 'Shackled and Drawn'. This year she remained behind him on stage but contributed spine-tingling vocals, all synchronised to Springsteen's right hand.

The Nightwatchman and The Boss.

Jake, bigger and badder than before. Gotta be the spirit of Big, Bad Uncle Clarence.

Solo 'The Promise' on piano.

I've seen the guy nearly 100 times but had never seen this before: Roy banging Bruce's head against his keys. (Saw it again in Auckland.) Springsteen's a troubadour, a poet, a social activist, a rock and roll hero ... and perhaps the biggest goofball to ever strap on a 6-string.

On some nights, with Patti on the other side of the planet, Bruce seemed to lean on Sister Soozie for soul support.

Roy and his accordion strike a pose.

As Bruce is wont to say, "If we're here ... and you're here ... then they're here."

12 Feb 2014: Adelaide night 2

It was hot. Around 42C all day for second day in a row. As to be expected, the crowd was more affected than the band.

Regardless of temperature, these cats stayed cool.

Reverend Bradley brings the heart to 'High Hopes'.

Show me a twosome more in-sync onstage than Bruce Springsteen and Little Steven Van Zandt. Go ahead. I'll wait.

This show was odd. Amazing setlist featuring one-offs '41 Shots' and 'Hunter of Invisible Game' but Bruce was visibly tired. Still, there was magic in the night, such as when he spotted this sign and made sure to carry it with him back to stage. (Yes, he passed right over me on this night ... me and a big bloke beside me hoisted him onto his feet.)

"Gimme that riff, Charlie, gimme that riff ...."

Steven during his 'Jungleland' solo.

These two girls had to be summoned from their self-absorption to stand beside Springsteen for the conclusion of 'Dancing in the Dark'. "Girls ... girls ... GIRLS!"

Everyone in this photo is laughing because Bruce has just knocked over a piece of Roy's equipment while hopping on his piano during the intro to 'Tenth Avenue'. It was a great show ... but Bruce was WIPED. He was a danger to the equipment!

Steven, the maven of mugs.

The man was tired.

15 Feb 2014: Melbourne night 1

Eddie Vedder contributed spirited vocals to show-openers 'Highway to Hell' and 'Darkness on the Edge of Town'.

Note the security dude's smile.

Say what you will about the shallowness of social media, but since snapping this photo I've connected with the sign's creator -- an Aussie named Maria -- and intend to share tour memories during our Melbourne Springsteen gathering.

Little Steven looms like a Don over Nils and Bruce.

We got a full Born in the USA at the first Melbourne show, which put the spotlight on Jake.

Guitar Heroine Cindy Mizelle.

'Born to Run' becomes personal for the folks down front.

'Rosalita' nuttiness.

Check Steven's face.

We remember.

16 Feb 2014: Melbourne night 2

A snap from the infamous intro to 'Growin' Up'. Rambling, funny, blasphemous, yet ultimately pointless, I believe it's the reason the official audio for this show has yet to be made available for downloading. 
Guitar tech extraordinaire Kevin gets pulled into vocal duties during 'Waitin' on a Sunny Day'.

'We Are Alive' beneath a summer moon. Incredible.

One-offs 'Roulette', 'Lucky Town' and 'Lost in the Flood' made up for Springsteen's early sluggishness. And then we got a complete Born to Run. And 'Ramrod' ....

19 Feb 2014: Sydney

Any concerns about Springsteen's early-show exhaustion during Melbourne 2 were destroyed during a fiery cover of The Easybeats'  'Friday On My Mind' to start the Sydney show.

'Out in the Street' becomes Out in the Arena ....

'Cadillac Ranch' brought River-era goofiness.

A very modern 'Spirit in the Night': Bruce describes his hotel room's laser-controlled toilet seat.

Another favourite. Proud papa with his arm on Springsteen, one cool daughter beside a screaming one, and the tool beside them with his back towards it all, taking a fuckin' selfie.

This night brought the Oz/NZ tour's only complete Darkness on the Edge of Town. Chilling, rousing, unforgettable.

All eyes fall on Eddie Manion as he fills the gap left by a mourning Jake Clemons, whose father succumbed to injuries sustained in a housefire and had to return to the States for the funeral. As they say in Australia, Eddie was a legend.

Ladies down front get personal Boss Time.

Beer-chugging Bruce. This must drive Jon Landau bonkers.

An Aussie legend. As Bruce would say afterwards, "Sydney's got talent!"

With Jake temporarily absent, Eddie Manion stepped up and forever proved his importance to the E Street Band.

Guitar barrage during a cover of INXS's 'Don't Change'.

Michelle's smile seems part humorous, part "Is our meal ticket gonna make it up on his own?"

This special night concluded with a solo 'Dream Baby Dream' that threatened to blow the roof off Allphones Arena.

26 Feb 2014: Brisbane

Of all the Aussie covers that opened shows on this tour, 'Stayin' Alive' was by far the most shocking.

Bruce Springsteen addresses 'Mr Trusty', aka his adolescent penis.

Brisbane was a predictably dead crowd but I was lucky to have a pair of Tramps beside me, including the guy on the left side of this photo named Anthony.

It wasn't a rumour: Bruce tears into 'Kitty's Back' during a complete Wild & the Innocent.

Garry Tallent plays tuba during 'Wild Billy's Circus Story', one of the few Springsteen official releases I'd never heard played live before.

David Sancious was the piano player on Wild & the Innocent, of course, but Roy's playing on this night was masterful. Tears came with his piano intro to 'Incident on 57th Street'.

'New York City Serenade' with strings: As gorgeous a noise my 48-year-old ears have ever heard.

An exceptional show played before a mostly disinterested audience. Like the opening night of the 2013 tour in Brisbane, Bruce strolled among mortals to generate enthusiasm.

Edder Vedder watched the show from the pit. By the time he joined Bruce and the band for a thunderous 'Highway to Hell" it was clear he'd been the recipient of many a free beer from appreciative fans. Regardless, they rocked.

Another favourite photo.

1 March 2014: Auckland 1

Little Steven joined Jimmy Barnes on both nights to perform a song he gave to Barnes called 'Ride the Night Away'.

A blistering acoustic cover of Lorde's 'Royals' opened both shows in Auckland.

New Zealand hadn't hosted a Springsteen show since 2003. The Saturday night crowd may have been the best of the tour. Here, Bruce lets the crowd sing 'The River'.

We got a complete Born in the USA on this night. Here, the great Nils Lofgren rips a solo during 'Cover Me'.

A Kiwi named Tracy Harris wowed Springsteen, Little Steven and a crowd of 40,000 during 'Glory Days'.

I was lucky to meet Bev at GA roll call before the show. Made witnessing her time on stage even more special.

This guy ... this guy ... was part of my Auckland entourage from the moment I stepped off the plane. A stranger at first, Jamie's now a brother, and I'll never forget his performance on this spectacular evening.

'The Rising'.

Another favourite shot, taken during 'Land of Hope and Dreams'.

The best backup singers on the planet. Their incorporation into a wider range of songs in 2014 was one of the tour's highlights.

That's my hand with the wedding ring.

This night marked my debut on vocals on an official Springsteen recording, as Bruce dropped the mic before me (left) during 'Rosalita'. I apparently nailed the "We're gonna play some pool ..." part, as he screamed "FUCK YEAH!" (right) when I was done. (Photos courtesy of Jamie.)

Another friend made in Auckland -- a woman named Piera who teamed with a woman named Mary to form the formidable duo of 'Teachers for Tom Morello' -- kindly shared this photo of me just after my participation.

Like he did in Sydney during the 2013 tour, Bruce called for The Sponge. Last time it was Nils who doused the Boss. This time, it was Little Steven.

2 March 2014: Auckland night 2

It was still daylight when Springsteen and the E Street Band took the stage for the final time in Australasia.

I try to avoid video screen shots, but love the Darkness-era attitude of this shot.

"Got high HOPES ..."

We got a complete Born to Run on this final show of the Oz/NZ tour, which meant a full-band 'Thunder Road'. (Note the sock monkey being held up before an otherwise occupied Springsteen.)

Kansas City Curt Ramm teams with Springsteen (and an unseen Garry on bass) during a stunning 'Meeting Across the River'.

And then ... 'Jungleland'.

Nearly 40 years after BTR's release and Springsteen still loses it during the 'Jungleland' sax solo ... as do we all.

Again ... Steven's look at a fan is priceless.

'Twist and Shout' ended the party.

A final acoustic 'This Hard Land' was the final song of the 2014 High Hopes tour of Australia and New Zealand. Bruce promised they'd be back.

Mt Smart Stadium, after the joy.


Big Papi Lindsay said...

Thank you for sharing these incredible photos with us. As a fan of 35 years who will never be able to make it to a live show .. this is how I can "be there" too. Amazing photography.

Rita Polites said...

Joe these photos are freakin amazing. You have captured the spirit and the moments of these epic performances brilliantly. Reliving the memories. Some of the best in my life. Thank you thank you for sharing.
Cheers Rita P ����������