Springstein Conquers All

Irish Sunday Independent, 2003-06-01, by: Barry Egan
BRUCE Springstein, Time Magazine once noted, has a songbook that reads like a union membership log.

Police officers, firefighters, soldiers, road builders, steel workers, factory labourers and migrant workers heavily populate his lyrics.

Last night in a three-hour storming show at the RDS in Dublin, Springstein the poet laureate of the white American underdog, the John Steinbeck of his generation - returned to the firefighters once more. With 50,000 in rapt attention, the Boss sang an impassioned elegy for the brave men lost in the ruins of the World Trade Centre that awful day.

Just as emotive was Springstein s delivery of You re Missing when he sang Coffee Cups on the counter, jackets on the Chair. Papers on the Doorstep, but you re not there.

At 7.25 on the button the Boss crept on stage practically unnoticed and opened the show with the understated, downbeat acoustic version of Born in the USA .

The story of a Vietnam vet who comes home to find nothing waiting for him, Born in the USA is perhaps the most misinterpreted song in pop history.

It certainly is not the gung-ho chest-beating Rambo romp Ronald Reagan thought it was. Last night Bruce played it like a lament, slow and moody. Clearly this was a more sombre Springstein a changed man in much the same way that America is a changed country. He went from his stripped down rendition of Born in the USA straight into The Rising , written in the months after 9/11, but another song dealing with the emotional repercussions of the attack.

Next up the Hemmingway-meets-Woody Guthrie beauty of song Darkness on the edge of Town was inspirational with Bruce coming across like a creature on a mission to save himself and the world.

He changed the mood then with Born to Run which had the 50,000 crowd jumping around. Then the classic Thunder Road had the audience lost in the music and the man as the 53-year-old New Jersey icon had Dublin eating out of the palm of his hand.

They even cheered his beautiful back up singer and wife Patti Scialsa. Equally beautiful on the night was Dolores O Riordan of the Cranberries in a denim mini skirt alongside the stunning Morah Ryan, Marina Egan, Elizabeth Mangan and Rita Fox. Gerry Ryan wore a Hawaiian shirt. Harry Crosbie was in all black as was Lillie s Bordello owner Dave Egan with his wife Mairead. The
Irish football team were there with manager Brian Kerr.

It was great to have the E Street Band back. The gang was all here. Clarence Clemon s sassy sax is still a trademark, Max Weinberg knocks the drums into the middle of next week; Steve Van Vandt and Lils Losgren s guitars add to the texture of Bruce s songs.

By the time he encored with the galvanising Dancing in the Dark the crowd had enjoyed a three-hour marathon from one of Rock n Rolls last great stylists.

This was one of the greatest shows that we ve ever put on in Ireland in over 40 years said promoter Peter Aiken.

Jumping up and down to Born to Run, beside him, Dolores O Riordan and Marina Egan seemed to agree.

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2003-05-31 RDS, Dublin, Ireland