And Into the River We'd Dive…
February 18, 2016
And Into the River We'd Dive…
I was reading an article about how Bruce Springsteen decided to go out on his current tour, The River 2016. It stated that his original intention was not to tour with the full E-Street band, but rather in support of his recently completed solo album. Then he was asked to play a special show in NYC in honor of the 35th anniversary of the release of the iconic double album that really established Springsteen as a serious American songwriter. He played the show, during which the band covered the entire 20 song album in its entirety and Springsteen enjoyed it so much that he scrapped the solo tour for the moment, opting instead to tour in support of the 35th annual River retrospective release, The Ties That Bind: The River Collection.
When I heard that he was touring I knew that I had to get tickets for this tour, I did not have the good fortune of seeing the original tour in 1980 that has become legendary and I wanted to be sure to see this one, so I bought a pair of tickets as soon as they went on-sale. As fate would have it, I had a really good almost lifelong friend, Henk visit me this week along with his daughter Brooke and so I got an extra ticket and we all ended up going to see the Boss. Henk and I had both been to the two Born in the USA tour stops in Indianapolis back in the day, one at Market Square Arena and one at the Hoosier Dome. I have also had the good fortune to see a number of Bruce shows since then and have never been disappointed.
Brooke and I
This time the show was to be held at the BB&T center in Sunrise (Ft. Lauderdale), the home of the NHL’s Florida Panthers hockey team. We drove up to Lauderdale in the afternoon, arriving in time to check in to the hotel and make our way down to the arena. Since our seats were separate it was decided that Brooke and I would take the pair and Henk the single which was a few sections away from us. Brooke and I had great VIP seats in the Club Lexus section just off the floor on the side. The tickets also allowed us into the Club Lexus lounge where there was a massive buffett of exquisite food as well as all the free drinks you could have, they even had a wonderful dessert bar, where we hung out prior to the show starting.
I was curious how Brooke would like the show, she claimed to be somewhat familiar with his music, but this was an entirely new sort of experience for her and she was much, much younger than the vast majority of the sold-out crowd. I need not have worried as she was pretty much caught up in the energy of the Springsteen experience from the opening chords and had an amazingly good time in spite of not being all that familiar with the music.
Bruce and the band opened the show by simply walking out with the house lights on and launching in to “Meet Me In the City while the house lights remained on. Once the opener was completed, Bruce immediately spoke to what the significance of the River album meant to him, his career and how it still resonates to him to this day, 35 years later. The lights came down and the band started playing the entire double album in order, all twenty songs without much of a break at all. The power and energy of the album were on full display as Springsteen played the album track by track.
Personal highlights of the River portion to me were the songs “Independence Day” which he gave a beautiful story as an intro, “The River”, “Hungry Heart” and a beautiful version of “Point Blank” which was to me much better than the album track itself. Bruce and the band wrung each drop of emotion out of each song and it was just an amazing experience to see the beauty of the album as a whole played all at once.
For most bands a 20 song set would be more than enough for an entire concert, but after the two hours it took to cover the entire River, Bruce and the E Street band were far from finished and basically played another entire concert of their hits after the River songs. Starting with “Badlands” and cruising through such classics as “Thunder Road”, “Rosalita”, “Born to Run”, “Bobby Jean”, “Dancing in the Dark” and a fantastic version of “The Rising”, the band played another 13 songs bringing the total to 34 songs played in just over three and a half hours with no intermission and amazing feat that is standard procedure for this band.
The show closed with the house lights back on and the crowd joining the band in an epic cover of the Isley Brothers classic “Shout” that had the crowd in a singing and dancing frenzy. It was one of the best shows that I have seen in ages, and yet another in a series of amazing Bruce shows that I have seen over the years. Both Brooke and Henk loved the show as well and it was really fun to share a young girl’s first exposure to this iconic figure in American music. If you get a chance to catch this tour (or any Bruce show) you should certainly grab a ticket. It is even worth traveling a great distance to see and I would really like to get a chance to see it again myself.