Springsteen opens tour in scintillating style

USA Today, 2002-08-08, by: Elysa Gardner
"I'm excited, too," a beaming Bruce Springsteen told the roaring crowd that filled the Continental Arena Wednesday night.

And why not? Capping a day that saw his new album, The Rising, shoot to No. 1, New Jersey's favorite son was kicking off a tour with longtime comrades the E Street Band on his home turf.

Entering to the familiar chants of "Brooooce," the Boss and band started the show with the title track and first single from the new album, which was influenced by events since Sept. 11. They then launched into Lonesome Day, a similarly bittersweet anthem also featured on the CD.

Many in the crowd seemed intimately acquainted with the new material, clapping and singing along with the refrains. Indeed, The Rising album could be heard blasting from several of the boomboxes littering the parking lot hours before the show started.

One fan playing the CD, Brian Gay, 28, of Hoboken, N.J., said he thought, "The media is playing up the 9/11 angle too much. This (album) is consistent with what Bruce has been writing about for 30 years ? everyday people making connections with everyday situations."

Sgt. Anthony Frato of the Cliffside Park, N.J., police department, who lost colleagues on Sept. 11, agreed that Springsteen "isn't jumping on a bandwagon. He's been doing this kind of thing forever. I've learned from him that the laws are to protect, not to punish. His songs make you understand people are hurting."

Springsteen introduced one such elegiac ballad, Empty Sky, by saying, "We're gonna need some real quiet for this next song." But he refrained from pontificating about the new material's messages, leaving the audience to form its own interpretations. He and his bandmates also provided plenty of the humor and exuberant camaraderie that are staples of their shows together.

Two upbeat new songs, Mary's Place and Waitin' on a Sunny Day, became exhilarating singalongs. On the latter tune, the audience required no coaching on the lyrics. "I'm impressed," the lead singer said, grinning.
Of course, Springsteen mixed in old favorites, such as Darkness on the Edge of Town, The Promised Land, Two Hearts and Badlands, drawing equally enthusiastic reactions.

Certainly, no one would have blamed the 52-year-old rock star if he concentrated on the glory days. Instead, he acknowledged the past both wistfully and joyfully but kept the emphasis on the possibility of better days ahead.

Notes

Topic

2002-08-07 Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, NJ