Springsteen brings special 'Magic' to near-full Palace

Detroit News, 2007-11-06, by: Susan Whitall
Bruce Springsteen brought his seemingly recession-proof "Magic" tour to The Palace of Auburn Hills on Monday, performing to a near-sellout crowd. Put it this way: The scattered empty seats were so high up in the nosebleed section your ears would pop.

Southeastern Michigan might be staggering from waves of layoffs and mortgage meltdowns, but Springsteen is one future that you don't sell short.

"Is anyone alive out there?" he yelled out as a greeting, and he and the E Street Band hit the ground running, performing as intensely on the first song, "Radio Nowhere," as they did heading for the encores (which included "Born to Run," and "Dancing in the Dark."

The set list was heavy on songs from his new album, "Magic," including the title song, which Springsteen said "isn't really about magic, it's about tricks ... lies spun into truth, and truth into lies."

He introduced "Living in the Future" with a rant about illegal wiretapping, "no habeas corpus" and other practices he termed an "assault on the Constitution, and therefore an assault on us as Americans."

"The E Street Band is here to do something about it. We'll sing about it," Springsteen roared.

And he did, with the E Streeters providing the party in a box behind him. Some may pine for Springsteen's solo days when he isn't locked into his Boss persona, when the lyrics aren't sometimes lost in the frenzy onstage (at one point there are five guitars being played at once), but there are few bands that can inspire simple joy in an audience just by pounding out two-plus hours of solid rock and roll.

It's a feeling that harkens back to the no-holds-barred rock of Springsteen's childhood, when every song Gary U.S. Bonds did sounded like a lie-on-your-back rave-up.

When Steven Van Zandt chopped out a relentless boogie beat on "Reason," right out of Canned Heat's "Up the Country," the crowd melted, and Max Weinberg, with his militaristic time-keeping, pounded the life out of variation No. 101 of the Bo Diddley beat on "She's the One."

They motorvated through "Promised Land," and got to "Tunnel of Love" on which Patti Scialfa sang one of several keening duets with her husband, their faces almost touching, in a moment almost too intimate for a 20,000-seat arena.

Springsteen danced around and bopped hands with people in the first few rows, including a boy who looked to be about 4 or 5.

At one point, he held up a sign that said "RAMROD PLEASE," as a song request. "I don't believe it; if that kid was 16 he'd be home asleep," Springsteen snorted.

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2007-11-04 Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH