Springsteen takes spirited romp onstage at AAC

The Dallas Morning News, 2002-11-01, by: Thor Christensen
Bruce Springsteen's show Sunday night at the American Airlines Center felt like an arena-rock version of a New Orleans jazz funeral: a little bit of mourning, followed by a whole lot of dancing and carrying on. Touring on the heels of The Rising--practically a concept album about 9/11--the singer challenged fans far more than he did in 2000 during his rousing greatest-hits show at Reunion Arena. He asked the packed house for "a bit of quiet" and got it during "You're Missing" and "Empty Sky" (featuring Patti Scialfa's ethereal, fluttering soprano). And he saved two of his saddest tunes for the end, "My City of Ruins" and "Into the Fire," an almost spiritual tale of grief and redemption.

Yet somber moments and all, the show was the Boss at his most jubilant. Playing the first night of the second leg of his U.S. tour, the singer retooled the set list, deleting several Rising tunes, adding some upbeat oldies and rediscovering his inner ham. His voice was in fine rasp on rockers like "Dancing in the Dark" ("a New Jersey two step," he dubbed it) and "She's the One," his Bo Diddley-inspired rave-up from Born to Run. "Darkness on the Edge of Town" was especially harrowing as he switched into a falsetto, and he teamed with Dallas-based rocker Don Henley for a spirited run through "I Fought the Law" (a reference, perhaps, to the Eagle's recent battles with music biz rule-makers?).

But the real surprise was how fun and frenetic some of the new tunes were. On record, "Mary's Place" and "Waiting on a Sunny Day" sound like filler, but in concert they turned into wicked soul showstoppers, and the fiddle-fired "Lonesome Day" turned into Appalachian R&B. The 53-year-old singer did sit down at the piano a few times, digging way back to 1973 for a lovely solo version of "Incident at 57th Street." Yet he was on his feet for almost 2 ? hours straight, pogo-dancing through "Dancing in the Dark," climbing atop Roy Bittan's piano during "Mary's Place" and running and sliding across the stage on his knees. And his guitar-hurling put Pete Townshend to shame.

Between lyrics, he morphed into a gonzo ringmaster, dubbing his wife "Ms. Natural Viagra," addressing Steven Van Zandt as his Sopranos character ("Silvio, Silvio, where art thou, Silvio?") and threatening to end the show at the two-hour mark: "I think it's quittin' time!" he screamed during "Ramrod." "Time to go back to the hotel and watch pornographic films!" But alas, the porn would have to wait for a triumphant version of "Born to Run" and another 20 minutes of encores.



2002-11-03 American Airlines Arena, Dallas, TX