Bruce Springsteen at Boston Garden
Boston Herald, 1992-12, by: Larry Katz
"Well, the weather outside is frightful, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow." A smiling Bruce Springsteen began his concert at the Boston garden Sunday night singing about the weather to a packed house undeterred by the weekend storm. Any Springsteen concert is a special occasion, but this was the first in Boston - not Worcester, not Providence, but Boston proper - since he played the Garden during his "River" tour in 1980.
Springsteen is backed by a solid five-piece band, five backup singers and wife Patti Scialfa, who joined him for "Brilliant Disguise" and "Human Touch". But without the beloved E Streeters behind him, save for lone holdover Roy Bittan on keyboards, there's an increased focus on Bruce. And to up the pressure even more, he only performed a handful of his sure-fire, crowd-pleasing favorites. Instead, he crammed his two-part, four-hour show with 15 songs from his recent, relatively weak "Human Touch" and "Lucky Town" albums.
But Springsteen, the supreme master of arena rock, was up to the task. He controlled the pace of his show and, along with it, the reaction of his audience, with authority. And it's a good thing he has such command. Because whenever he reached a slow spot, and his lesser new songs resulted in several, he came roaring back with a spirit-lifting number.
After taking note of his return to Boston Garden - "It's easy to sweat in this place" - Springsteen launched into his only lengthy rap, speaking about the changes wrought by parenthood, the sadness and significance of the Los Angeles riot and his hope for the Clinton presidency. "It's hard to put your faith in politicians, or rock stars, for that matter," he said, "but you gotta start somewhere."
But all that buildup led to an anticlimatic rendition of the introspective "If I Should Fall Behind." It was the next song that delivered the thrills. Introduced jokingly as "My own personal version of Erotica, " Springsteen ploded into "Leap of Faith," which, good to its title, included a wild leap into the audience by the Boss.
The second half of the show had its share of memorable moments. There were rafter shaking versions of the title tune from "Born In the U.S.A." and "Glory Days". "Light of Day", a garage rocker Springsteen wrote for a Michael J. Fox/Joan Jett movie, went from guitar workout to gospel rave-up. And, in keeping with the season, the night ended with the appearance of a jolly Santa, a Christmas tree descending from above and Springsteen belting "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."
This night of Springsteen's return to Boston also included a nod to his historic connection to this city when his manager, Jon Landau, appeared onstage playing guitar on "Glory Days." Back in 1974, Landau, a writer for the Cambridge-based Real Paper, wrote the often-repeated (and misquoted) line "I saw rock & roll future and it's name is Bruce Springsteen." That quote not only led to Landau becoming Springsteen's manager, it helped make Springsteen a star. And as 15,000 saw Sunday night, taht star is older, but still burning.