Boss wins over crowd

The Age, 2003-03-21, by: Steve Waldon
He says he writes songs as medicine for his soul. Last night at Telstra Dome, Bruce Springsteen flung open the medicine cabinet and dispensed potions and tonics to an audience that was swiftly and irrevocably in his thrall.
In the light of yesterday's events in Iraq, Springsteen, 53 and very active, had the job ahead of him to leaven our instinctive fretfulness about conflict. That he did so emphatically was a measure not just of the engaging anthemic quality of many of the songs he selected, but to his obvious determination to create an uplifting mood.
Adding musical authority to his mission was the original E-Street band, back with "The Boss" as a unit for the first time since 1989.
Springsteen did not ignore the Middle East: the second song of the night was a gutsy version of the old Edwin Starr hit War (What is it Good For?).
And, later, after an appealing version of Empty Sky, dressed with mandolin and harmonica lines, Springsteen made a quiet reference to its lyric, and that he had fixed suspicions about "blind revenge and blood lust".
But the striking feature of last night's concert was the relentless pace at which it continued.
The insistent beat of the title track from the triple-Grammy-winning latest album The Rising was accompanied by an irresistible invitation for the audience to join in the "la-la-la" tag.
That segued into Lonesome Day, and another chance for the audience, mostly loyal diehards, to join in the "s'all right, s'all right, yeah!" singalong.

And on we went. Big, happy stadium rock songs such as Waiting on a Sunny Day, Out in the Street, Badlands and a rollicking Mary's Place.
More than once, Springsteen good-naturedly admonished the audience for being too laid-back.
Three decades after he emerged as a thoughtful purveyor of modern laments offset by vibrant rockalongs, Springsteen's infectious enthusiasm was catching on.



2003-03-20 Telstra Dome, Melbourne, Australia