Springsteen's vision of faith and family

The Indianapolis Star, 2008-03-21, by: David Lindquist
Bruce Springsteen barked the lyrics of recent single "Radio Nowhere" -- adamant lines such as "searchin' for a world with some soul" -- as if he were a junkyard dog Thursday night at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Emboldened by members of the E Street Band, he didn't let up for another 2-1/2 hours.

On the road to promote current album "Magic," Springsteen made good on his concert-opening boast of leading the "biggest little bar band in the world."

What's a bar band without electric guitars? Springsteen's instrument became an obvious outlet for his drive, as the 58-year-old pinched high, sustained notes during "Gypsy Biker" and "Prove It All Night" early in the program.

The flip side of heavy-metal shredders who solo for show, Springsteen delivers barbed-wire translations of a hungry heart.

Sideman Nils Lofgren, however, bobbed and weaved throughout a rendition of "Because the Night" to earn credit for the night's most impressive guitar solo.

At the same time, keyboard player Danny Federici was Thursday's most celebrated E Street player. Sidelined since November while being treated for melanoma, the Hammond B-3 specialist made a cameo appearance in which he starred on "Spirit in the Night" and "Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)."

Federici's presence represented the family element of Springsteen's long-running career, and faith in tomorrow emerged as the concert's other guiding principle.

To put it mildly, the New Jersey native is looking forward to the end of President Bush's second term in office. On "Magic's" title track, Springsteen characterizes the leader as someone who "cut(s) you in half while you're smiling ear to ear."

When introducing "Living in the Future," the most clever of the left-leaning "Magic" selections, Springsteen referred to present-day policies of wiretapping and questionable treatment of prisoners in a context of disbelief.

The singer's outspoken politics may be the reason 11,000 people came out to the show and about 5,000 seats were unsold.

But even dressed in 10 shades of black, Springsteen and Co. made it a rousing blue-collar night in the red state of Indiana.

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2008-03-20 Canseco Center, Indianapolis, IN