Bruce Springsteen at L.C.C.C.
ManchesterOnline, 2003-05-30, by: unknown
HE dances like a fool, testifies like a sanctified soul brother, slides across the stage on his knees and throws his guitar in the air - Bruce Springsteen is the ultimate rock fan turned rock superstar.
Last night he led the second friendly invasion of the region in as many days as 50,000 fans rocked into the sultry dusk at Lancashire County Cricket Ground.
Just like the Italian football fans the day before, Springsteen brought the sun with him as he bowled over the crowd with a mighty show of rock music at its very best.
But it all started with a surprisingly low key and unexpected appearance of the legend on stage alone five minutes before the scheduled start time of 7.30pm as he launched into a sparse and bluesy solo acoustic version of Born In The USA.
Sounding very different from his usual version of the pumped-up hit track, it was difficult to imagine anyone misunderstanding, as a previous Bush administration had, this lament for lives lost or left with "nowhere to run" by callous politicians and big business.
But then it was time to rock, and nobody rocks better, harder or longer than Bruce Springsteen And The E-Street Band in full flight.
Last night, they played for a punch-the-air exhilarating, larger-than-life, emotionally-acute and sometimes laugh-out-loud hammy three hours.
For weeks, it had looked as if the show might not go ahead at all. Local residents objected that the show would prove too disruptive conming just 24 hours after the UEFA Champions League Final at the nearby Manchester United stadium.
Trafford Council supported their case and refused the show a licence. But earlier this month they were overruled by magistrates to the relief of the hoardes of rock fans who had paid up to ??42 a ticket to see their hero perform for the first time in Manchester since his pair of sell-out shows at the MEN Arena three years ago.
Last night Springsteen seemed as unaware of the objections as he was of the rules of cricket, which he pretended to believe was just like baseball except "there's only two bases and the pitcher has to run, right?"
A Springsteen show as good as this can be like watching the actual heart and soul of all great rock happening before your very eyes.
While other big-name rockers, like Paul McCartney or The Rolling Stones, legitimately please by flicking through their own back catalogues Springsteen can thrill with his latest releases.
Uniquely, the majority of his audience know and love the new songs, such as the rocking house-party Mary's Place or the eerie and heartbreaking post-9/11 tune Empty Sky, nearly as much as the old classics, such as the implausibly exciting Born To Run or Thunder Road.
Springsteen works the crowd relentlessly and rocks like his own life really and truly depends on this being the most completely satisfying music show you've ever experienced.
For many, it was exactly that.
2003-05-29 Old Trafford Cricket Ground, Manchester, England