Springsteen had us dancing in the dark

Charlotte Observer, 2002-12-09, by: Tonya Jameson
For a couple of hours, Bruce Springsteen helped thousands of Charlotteans forget their houses were cold and dark, they hadn't slept in their warm beds or taken a hot shower since Wednesday.

Springsteen's fervent belief in the healing power of rock 'n' roll can make even the biggest doubter believe everything's going to be OK. And for the thousands of Charlotteans filling the Charlotte Coliseum on Sunday, Springsteen's faith was enough.

"Thanks for being here with us," he told the audience. "I know most of you want heat and electricity. We appreciate you being here."

While Springsteen's "The Rising" tour was a chance for many to get warm, it was also a chance get lost in Springsteen's world. Instead of worrying about carbon monoxide poisoning and bored children, we lost ourselves in songs about love and hope, about bad relationships and redemption.

Springsteen was the diversion many of us needed. He and the E Street Band roared like a powerful rock engine, re-working old and new tunes. Nils Lofgren added an acoustic Latin guitar intro that made "Counting On A Miracle" even more powerful. As always, Clarence Clemons' saxophones added firepower to every song he touched. Steven Van Zandt seemed quiet though with only a few solos. He seemed content to remain in the background.

Springsteen sang with the sweat and passion that has made him legendary, running from one end of the stage to another and sliding on his knees. Fans stood pumping their fist and waving their hands throughout the night, only quiet when the group performed mellow songs, such as "Empty Sky."

While Springsteen's 1999 Charlotte concert was like a greatest hits reunion, Sunday's show was mostly culled from his new album, "The Rising," which has sold nearly 2 million copies. He also tossed in a few dusty tunes, such as "Candy Room" and "Cadillac Ranch."

For nearly three decades, Springsteen's music has mirrored the country's morale during pivotal events, such as the Vietnam War. His latest album, "The Rising," reflects the uncertainty and malaise that still lingers over the American psyche since Sept. 11.

But for Charlotte, "My City of Ruins" is more than an ode to New York City. It's trees smashing into homes and pitch-black streets pierced by high-beam car lights. "You're Missing" isn't simply a poignant look at a person widowed by the attacks. It's a Shelby woman who lost her husband to carbon monoxide poisoning on Saturday despite his efforts to keep her warm and safe during the power outage.

And Springsteen's rebellious songs, such as "Badlands," reflected our steely resolve to survive.

He was just the type of healing the city needed.

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2002-12-08 Coliseum, Charlotte, NC