Bruce Springsteen revives 'Glory Days' in San Jose

San Jose Mercury News, 2008-04-06, by: Jim Harrington
Bruce Springsteen was taking requests.

The Boss and his most legendary group, the E Street Band, most certainly had a carefully planned set list written out when they visited HP Pavilion in San Jose on Saturday night. A large percentage of what was heard in concert, however, was decided on the fly and by a committee of thousands.

Five songs into the set, New Jersey's favorite son began taking cues from the crowd. He'd reach into the masses for a sign, one requesting a certain song, and then wave the banner to the band. Ten seconds later, the E Streeters would be cranking out that number.

Welcome to the second leg of Springsteen's "Magic" tour, a vastly more spontaneous and satisfying place to visit than what crowds experienced during the first go-around. Thank goodness. Springsteen's last visit to the Bay Area, back in October at Oracle Arena in Oakland, did very little to add to his legend as one of rock's all-time best performers.

It's hard to say what exactly has changed in the last six months. Whatever the reason, Springsteen just seemed like he was having a blast being onstage on Saturday - in a way that wasn't apparent back in October - and that translated to a raucous good time for fans in San Jose.

The 58-year-old vocalist-guitarist and his eight-piece band - all of whom were dressed completely in black - had the crowd at "hello" as they opened with the fan favorite "Out in the Streets" (from 1980's "The River").

Jersey boys (and one girl, violinist-guitarist Soozie Tyrell) could do no wrong as they mixed sensational versions from the new album, "Magic," with more nostalgic offerings. It was far from being a "greatest hits" night, but everything they played sounded like it was - or should have been - a chart-topper.

Of course, it didn't hurt that these fans thought they had a real chance of hearing their favorite songs played on this night. The first request Springsteen took, scribble out on a bright neon orange sign, was for "Something in the Night" (from 1978's "Darkness on the Edge of Town"), but he would also say yes to such suggestions as "Fire" and "Incident on 57th Street."

The concert's most memorable moment came during the encore when the Boss brought a man from the audience onstage. The guy had scrawled "Glory Days" across his bald head and Springsteen rewarded the effort by playing a killer version of the song. Bet on that lucky fan remembering his moment of fame for a long time - especially since it sure looked like he'd scribbled his request using a permanent marker.

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2008-04-05 HP Pavillon, San Jose, CA