Bruce Springsteen at Pepsi Center, 11/19/12

Categories: Last Night

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Eric Gruneisen
Bruce Springsteen last night at the Pepsi Center. Slide show: Bruce Springsteen at the Pepsi Center


BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND @ PEPSI CENTER | 11/19/12

Bruce Springsteen asked for silence, and a crowd of thousands obliged. Springsteen and the E Street Band were eight songs deep into their three-hour, 26-song set at the Pepsi Center on Monday night, and the mood had suddenly turned reverent as Springsteen introduced "My City of Ruins" as a tribute to Asbury Park, New Jersey, a town hit successively by economic hardship and, more recently, a natural disaster.

On a deeper level, he added, it was a song that acknowledged "the ghosts that we gather around us." After singing lines about a missing congregation and a brother who was "down on his knees," Springsteen asked for a roll call from the other sixteen musicians on stage. "Are we missing anybody? Are you missing anybody?" he crooned before declaring, "This is where we like to stop for a moment to feel the ghosts that walk alongside us ... Shhh." Silence descended, and the ghost of Clarence Clemons was hard to miss.

See also:
- Photos: The twenty best Bruce Springsteen shirts we saw last night at the Pepsi Center
- Slide show: Bruce Springsteen at the Pepsi Center
- Review: Bruce Springsteen at Pepsi Center, 4/10/09
- Review: Bruce Springsteen at Well's Fargo Theatre, 5/7/05
- Review: Bruce Springsteen at Pepsi Center, 3/31/00
- Deferred Hat Tip: Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska
- When it comes to Bruce, David Brooks misses the point

That heartfelt moment was only one of many tributes Monday to Clarence Clemons, the iconic E Street Band saxophonist who died last year following complications from a stroke. It was the E Street Band's first visit to Denver since the loss, and the Big Man's shadow loomed large. His spirit was summoned in the extended performance of "My City of Ruins," as Springsteen recalled Clemons's misadventures as the owner of an ill-fated cowboy bar called Big Man's West before the band broke into "Saving Up."

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Eric Gruneisen
Jake Clemons and Bruce Springsteen last night at the Pepsi Center. Slide show: Bruce Springsteen at the Pepsi Center

The consummate skill and verve of Jake Clemons, the Big Man's nephew and one of two lead saxophonists was another constant reminder. But those nods to Clemons never weighed too heavy; they were only a part of a show that was dynamic and explosive on too many levels to count. Springsteen and the E Street band delivered a tour-de-force performance, an explosive show that never felt static.

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Eric Gruneisen
Bruce Springsteen last night at the Pepsi Center. Slide show: Bruce Springsteen at the Pepsi Center

Springsteen fused pure rock and roll, Pentecostal fervor and Celtic bravado in the course of three hours. He collected signs from the audience bearing requests for obscure tunes and played at least three; he brought a twelve-year-old onstage to sing the chorus of "Waitin' on a Sunny Day"; he crowd surfed and hammed it up while wearing a coonskin cap. There were too many of these memorable moments to count. The effect was dizzying, inspiring and intoxicating, all at once.

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Eric Gruneisen
The scene last night at the Pepsi Center. Slide show: Bruce Springsteen at the Pepsi Center

Shortly after 8 p.m., the lights went down and shadowy figures moved on the stage before Springsteen appeared in the spotlight holding a guitar. Dressed simply in jeans, a button-up shirt, a tie and a dark vest, Springsteen offered the requisite, "It's great to be back in that Rocky Mountain high," before making a few cracks about legalized pot to raucous applause. The jokes were brief, and led to an apt opening tune.

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Eric Gruneisen
Steven Van Zandt last night at the Pepsi Center. Slide show: Bruce Springsteen at the Pepsi Center

Shortly after the first strains of "Get Out of Denver" rang out, the stage lights blazed and revealed the full majesty of this touring incarnation of the E Street Band. There was the core band that featured veteran players Roy Bittan, Nils Lofgren, Steven Van Zandt, Garry Tallent, Max Weinberg, Soozie Tyrell and Charles Giordano. They shared the stage with a five-piece horn section, a three-piece vocal section and master percussionist Everett Bradley. The sound was lush and rich. Despite a few moments of feedback here and there, the ensemble offered a gorgeous musical framework for Springsteen's frenzied and energetic lead work.

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Eric Gruneisen
Bruce Springsteen and Max Weinberg last night at the Pepsi Center. Slide show: Bruce Springsteen at the Pepsi Center

And the Boss didn't waste any time. Rapid-fire renditions of "I'm a Rocker," "The Promised Land" and "Hungry Heart" whipped the crowd into an immediate frenzy, a fervor that was only stoked by Springsteen's well-rehearsed antics, from kneeling in front of crowd at the front of the stage after the first song and throwing his guitar across the stage to a handler to letting the thousands of rabid fans in the Pepsi Center sing the chorus for "Hungry Heart" and then venturing out to the middle of the floor, where he got up close and personal.

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Eric Gruneisen
Bruce Springsteen last night at the Pepsi Center. Slide show: Bruce Springsteen at the Pepsi Center

Climbing onto a metal walkway, he asked for "strong men" and "strong women" and then proceeded to crowd surf back to the stage before kicking off "We Take Care of Our Own," a tune from the band's latest album. The title song "Wrecking Ball" followed, with an instrumental outro that sounded downright Scottish. It was a feel that came partly from the instrumentation -- the band broke out a banjo, an accordion, a violin and a skin drum.


Location Info

Venue

Map

Pepsi Center

1000 Chopper Circle, Denver, CO

Category: General

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1 comments
Ben Barr
Ben Barr

I didn't know Tony Danza had a band.

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