How was Springsteen on night 2 in Anaheim?

Orange County Register, 2008-04-09, by: Steve Fryer
Review: It was a tall order for the Boss and the E Street Band to surpass Monday's incredible concert.
The first thing everybody wants to know: Which show was better?

Comparing the two Bruce Springsteen shows at the Honda Center is like comparing "The Godfather" and "The Godfather, Part II." Each of those films has its particular strengths and highlights. Certainly, both are great.

The same is true with the Monday and Tuesday gigs by Springsteen and his heart-stoppin', booty-shakin' (etc.) E Street Band. They were two parts of one fantastic whole.

Tuesday's show had eight songs not played Monday: "Thunder Road" to open; "Atlantic City;" "Candy's Room;" "Prove It All Night;" "Brilliant Disguise;" "Meeting Across the River;" "Jungleland;" and "Dancing in the Dark."

Like Monday, ace guitarist Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine joined the band for "The Ghost Of Tom Joad." Tuesday's version was as thunderous as Monday's, but with Morello's solo at the end a tad shorter and slightly more contained but still crazy. Morello at one point threw his head back and screamed in joy.

It's a good song for Anaheim. Old-timers around here say many of those Dust Bowl men filtered into Orange County years later and joined the construction crews that cleared the land and built Disneyland.

Ah, Orange County. "Is anybody alive out there?" Springsteen asked, again, before launching into "Radio Nowhere." Yes, very alive on the floor and in the plaza concourse, which is the lower bowl seating of the Honda Center. It was party time there.

In the terrace concourse, that mammoth top deck, pretty much alive. It's a challenge to get enthused, so far away from the action.

In the club section, the middle section, well sort of/maybe. When Springsteen introduced "Magic" with his declaration that we are about to exit "eight years of horrible magic tricks," you could practically hear the fidgeting in the club seats, plentifully occupied, likely, by the stalwart supporters of these past eight years of executive-branch leadership.

In the club suites, some folks were into it, some not. Some had that look of dread, like they were on an airplane and had just heard the pilot announce that we're going to be delayed for who-knows-how-long while we wait for an available runway.

How could they not be moved into motion by the midshow run of killer performances? This started with a rousing "Atlantic City" followed immediately by "Candy's Room" (the famous-to-the-faithful opening tittering of drummer Max Weinberg on the high hat brought an immediate yell of approval from the crowd), "Reason to Believe" with its southern-fried boogie, "Because the Night" with Nils Lofgren's searing guitar solo, and a pounding "She's the One" to finish.

"Livin' In The Future" followed. It's a fine live song, with a cool sax break from Clarence Clemons, but Springsteen alienated some in the crowd with another verbal political poke. Like any new song by a veteran band can be, it was a bit of a momentum-buster.

After "Badlands," this tour's usual main-set closer, Springsteen handed his guitar pick to a girl of about 6 years old, who was on her daddy's shoulders the whole night in the front pit. Then he yelled, "This one's for you, sweetie!" and played, like Monday, "Out In The Street" to finish the main set.

But the highlight of the little girl's night was yet to come. During the encore's "Dancing In The Dark," Springsteen brought her on stage to dance with him for a minute, then gingerly lifted her and deposited her down into the audience, which high-fived her as she crowd-surfed her way back into daddy's care.

The five-song encore opened with the quiet "Meeting Across The River," then went into "Jungleland" ? the same order in which the "Born To Run" album finishes ? then "Born to Run" itself, "Dancing in the Dark" and concluded, as usual, with the great supply-and-demand song, "American Land." As in October at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles, but unlike Monday at the Honda Center, the "American Land" lyrics rolled on the two big screens on each side of the stage.

Springsteen asked not once, but twice, Tuesday how many people at the Honda Center were also at Monday's show. Both times, the answer was a loud one.

To which Springsteen added, "We actually have a very small audience. They just keeping coming to all the shows."

Guilty as charged, sir.

If I have DVDs of both shows and the wife asks, "Which one do you want to see?" the answer is going to be, "Well, this one has... and that one has... heck, you pick!"

It's a tossup. These were two shiny sides of one beautiful coin.



2008-04-08 Honda Center, Anaheim, CA