Springsteen proves he's still in charge - Palace show is perfect blend of old and new

Detroit Free Press, 1992-08-18, by: Gary Graff
There are still tickets left for tonight's Bruce Springsteen concert at the Palace. If you haven't already done so - and if you like a generous, lusty rock 'n' roll show - buy one. When Springsteen stepped onstage Monday night, there were skeptics among the 17,811 at the Palace. They wondered if his live performance would pack the same punch without the E Street Band, his cohorts from 1972 to 1989. And they wondered if his personal songs from his new albums, "Human Touch" and "Lucky Town," would resonate as powerfully as his broader, populist anthems such as "Badlands," "Born to Run," and "Born in the USA."

With a two-set show that rocked well into the night, Springsteen offered "Living Proof" - the song and the evidence - that neither has changed his position as rock 'n' roll's pre-eminent stage performer. Springsteen showed that his new music could fit comfortably with his old favorites and that a spirit of adventure had returned to his shows after the more rigid standards of his '80s mega-stardom.

Springsteen surprised from the start of Monday's concert, playing solo at center stage and rolling through a prurient and unreleased song called "Red-Headed Woman" ("You ain't lived/'til you've had your tires rotated/ By a red-headed woman"). From there, it was into a trio of rockers from "Lucky Town" - "Better Days," "Local Hero," and the title track - before he reached back for "Darkness on the Edge of Town," which benefited from gospel-style backup vocals and prompted the first of the deep "Broooooce" chants.

Then came more surprises: a moody rendition of "Dancing in the Dark," with Springsteen accompanied only by his electric guitar and Crystal Taliefero's tambourine; and a bluesy acoustic version of "Spirit in the Night." There were thematic moments as well. A sharp combination of "57 Channels," Jimmy Cliff's "Trapped," and "Badlands" made for ringing social commentary, while "the love part of the show" - "Leap of Faith," "Man's Job," and "Roll of the Dice" - was buoyant and playful.

Springsteen made his own "Leap of Faith" during that song, jumping into the front rows of fans, who promptly hoisted him in the air, held him up and then passed him over their heads and back to the stage. Springsteen kept most of his between-song comments brief - "Let the music do the talking" he said at one point - but the father of two did offer poignant comments about parenthood and humorous comments about love's ability to "drive a spike right through your heart" and "put your face in the dirt... but you keep coming back!"

And with his performance Monday, Springsteen gave ample reason for his faithful - even the skeptics among them - to keep coming back for his shows too.

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1992-08-17 The Palace, Detroit, MI