2002-08-07, Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, NJ

The Rising Tour
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Notes

The official tour opener.

Approximately 2 hours, 25 minutes.

The show is somewhat marred by technical? problems.

Eyewitness accounts

Were you there? Write about it!
1455
Cal wrote: I attended this show and stood in front of the stage in the GA right in front of the Big Man himself. We waited all night in the parking lot to try to get in the front row and we were rewarded with a great concert and the front row seats I always dreamed of. The fans were very friendly and even kept my place so I could take a "relaxing piss" before the show started. Watching the show from the pit was like seeing the band in a bar, until BTR when the houselights came on and I realized there was 20,000 other people in the bar!

Charlton Bulkin wrote: My alarm was set for 7 AM although there was hardly a need for it. I can never sleep the night before a Springsteen concert. Having scored a single seat in the nosebleeds (center court, very top row), I was thankful to be able to participate in the event. There s always something special about seeing Bruce in Jersey.

I was tired from having spent most of the day traveling (a 15 minute car ride to the train station, a 45 minute train ride to the airport, a 2 hour flight, a 20 minute cab ride to the hotel, and a 35 minute, dangerous walk from the hotel to the arena) but I was immediately invigorated as I walked through the gates. In the parking lot of the arena, fans were enjoying a beautiful summer afternoon amongst the backdrop of the glorious New York City skyline. The sights, sounds and smells of summer were all around Buffalo wings, hot dogs & hamburgers, cigars, cold beer, bikini tops, sunglasses, sweat-soaked t-shirts, Frisbees, and classic era Springsteen songs blaring from a literal sea of boom boxes. Fans of all ages were in attendance although the large majority of the lot was comprised of an older demographic. Compared to the shows I saw at the Meadowlands in the summer of 92, fans now seemed to be sporting receding hairlines, graying temples, and larger beer bellies. T! hey also seemed to be driving more expensive cars. At $75 a ticket (compared to 92 s $28.50), it wasn t surprising.

Just before they opened the doors, I unwittingly sat down next Geraldine Baum, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. For about 15 minutes, she questioned me about my love for Springsteen s music, the fascination of seeing The Boss in Jersey, my pilgrimage to the Garden State, Bruce s publicity craze in the week prior to the show, the meaning of the many of the songs on the new album, and my expectations from the band on this tour. Since she was relatively unacquainted with Springsteen s music ( Darkness on the Edge of Nights ), I closed the interview by providing her with the URL to Stone Pony London (a great newsgroup dedicated to all things Bruce) so she could transcribe the set list for her report.

I entered the gate and made my way up to the very top of the arena (section 234, row 24, seat 9). As usual, I chatted with my neighbors about their Springsteen experiences. The woman to my left had seen Bruce on tour only three times (including his inaugural stand at the Meadowlands in 81) but she had witnessed countless early morning gigs at the Stone Pony during the seventies and early eighties. To my right, a group of kids (late teens/early twenties) won points immediately by explaining why Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are superior to the Dave Mathews Band. Unfortunately for those kids, an older group of people claimed the seats. Since the kids held tickets for those seats and the older group held a voucher for the same seats (as their tickets were evidently lost in the mail), the staff had to intervene to resolve the dispute. Both parties were escorted away and, a song and a half into the concert, the older party returned to claim the seats. The guy th! at wound up sitting next to me was visibly upset by the whole ordeal and was actually wiping tears from his eyes. Unfortunately for him, he let the incident ruin the show for him. For the remainder of the night, he never applauded more than three claps and I didn t see him tap his foot or snap his fingers for a single tune. Instead he just stood perfectly still with his arms folded throughout the entire show.

The tickets stated that the show would start at 7:30 but, as usual, it took the crowd most of the next 45 minutes to find their respective seats. I was interested to see how general admission would work as this was the first Springsteen show in a while to feature festival seating. The first fifth of the floor (closest to the stage) was sectioned off for what I assumed were VIP patrons. How someone becomes a VIP patron was never revealed to me. I know I d be pretty disappointed to wait in line all day only to learn that I couldn t get any closer than 40 feet from the stage.

At long last, the moment had arrived. At 8:15, the house lights dimmed and the band took the stage in a fashion similar to the previous tour: Roy first, Bruce last. Steve and Clarence received the most applause and Bruce was greeted with a unanimous chorus of Bruuuuuuuce. The video screens revealed a much slimmer Boss with a great tan and, somehow, more hair than the last tour. Springsteen greeted the crowd with a simple good evening. The Rising kicked off the show and Bruce belted out the vocals with a ferocity not heard since the full band renditions of Born in the USA from the Born in the USA tour. He was also more animated than I had seen him in quite a long time. Presumably, Springsteen s pride in the quality of the new tracks is driving force behind these inspiring performances. Lonesome Day immediately followed and was equally impressive, largely due to Max s aggressive drumming. Both versions were superior to the renditions of the same songs played the pre! vious week on Today and the Late Show. Prove it All Night (a concert staple and fan favorite) was next. Despite having seen rousing versions of the song during the 99 00 tour that far surpassed the lackluster performances of the song during the 92 tour, last night s version was the best one yet. Springsteen delivered the vocals with renewed conviction and drove the song home with a blazing, extended guitar solo. Steve was prominent on this number as the call-and-response tactic from the previous tour was still intact.

The Fuse was next. From reading reviews of the album on the various newsgroups, fans seem to be struggling with this song. That was evidenced by the mass exodus during this number. For my money, it s one of the most interesting tracks on the album. The live version shines thanks to Nils stellar guitar work. Darkness on the Edge of Town featured the traditional arrangement except for Bruce s tremolo guitar solos. This is obviously one of Springsteen s favorite tracks as he s played it regularly in each of the past several tours. Fans loved this one too.

After Darkness, Bruce addressed the crowd by asking for quiet for the next two numbers. He confessed, I m excited too, and went on to joke about taking a calming piss before hitting the stage. But he didn t have to ask for silence. The next two numbers hushed the crowd with their sheer brilliance. Empty Sky appeared in a strikingly altered arrangement. Bruce began the song with a haunting, falsetto howl similar to the one used to close Across the Border during the Tom Joad tour. Patti added color with her own distinctive voice. In this sparse, acoustic arrangement, the song is even more powerful. This was easily the best song of the evening up until this point. You re Missing followed and was almost as impressive. The song featured a modified arrangement that made room for additional soloing at the end of the track.

Bruce dedicated the next song, Waitin on a Sunny Day, to Brendan O Brien. Again featuring an alternate arrangement, the number begins with only the acoustic guitars in action. The song became an instant classic in the live setting as the crowd embraced it immediately. There s a short break in the middle of the tune which begs for audience participation and the Meadowlands crowd did not disappoint. Bruce even stated that he was impressed. The band kicked in after the audience participation segment and soared to new heights. Great song! This was followed with a rousing rendition of Springsteen s all-time best song, The Promised Land. This song fits perfectly with the theme of the new album. As usual, the crowd exploded during the instrumental break particularly after Clarence s solo.

Worlds Apart was next. I had read reports that the band was using taped vocals for this track but I didn t hear any during the performance. This is one of the best songs on the new record and prominently features some of Springsteen s most inspired guitar playing in quite a while. In concert, it s even better. I was very impressed although I couldn t say the same for the woman to my left. After mentioning how much she d like to hear Bruce play Born to Run, Thunder Road or Jersey Girl, she took off during the opening notes of Worlds Apart and never returned! Continuing with the theme of Worlds Apart, Bruce launched into another concert staple, Two Hearts. This was the 11th song of the night and it wasn t until he began playing it that I realized we hadn t heard anything from The River up until this point. In fact, if you owned all of Springsteen s studio albums except The Rising and Darkness on the Edge of Town, you wouldn t have known the first ten tracks. Two Heart! s featured a similar arrangement to the version from the Reunion tour, sans the It Takes Two coda at the end.

I began feeling nervous for my safety as the upper deck started shaking during the opening notes of Badlands. All of the old war horses were played with renewed vigor as they took on new meaning in light of September 11th. In light of Dave Marsh s comment about Springsteen s new music being more about September 12th than September 11th, an old line like, it ain t no sin to be glad you re alive really drives the point home.

Mary s Place, the latest in Springsteen s canon of rollicking set closers (Thundercrack, Rosalita, Light of Day) was next. Bruce reminisced about the house parties of his youth (admiring the girls only a few years his senior) and used the song to introduce the members of the best house band. Each member got his/her due without the rock n roll evangelist shtick from the previous tour. This was another fan favorite as it included the obvious audience participation segment during the line, waitin for that shout from the crowd.

Countin on a Miracle, in a rendition virtually identical to the studio version, was next. Being one of the more expendable tracks on the new album, I would have traded this song for Paradise or Nothing Man. Still, Springsteen belted out the lyrics with conviction which makes the song difficult to dislike.

American Skin was next. There were some changes from the version he played in Atlanta two summers ago. For one, the repeated 41 shots portion was dropped entirely. Also, a saxophone solo was added to the end of the song (similar to the rendition from the Live in NYC album). There wasn t any booing this time around, though, as everyone knew exactly what Springsteen meant when he sang the line, you can get killed just for living in your American skin. Great song.

Into the Fire closed the main set and rivaled Empty Sky in its intensity. Soozie plays a fierce violin solo to begin the song and the new arrangement is even more powerful than the studio version. This was one of the highlights of the show for me. Here s hoping we get yet another live album at the end of the tour.

Steve was having a problem with his guitar which delayed the start of the first encore. Bruce seized the opportunity to play with the crowd while waiting. Bruce screamed the count-in and the drum salvo of his most recognizable song, Born to Run, filled the arena. As usual, the house lights came on to reveal 20,000 crazed fans throwing their last ounces of sanity out the window in order to dance and sing along as if it were their job. I ve heard him play this song 17 times and it never sounded better than this. The house lights stayed on for the next song (which will undoubtedly be a wild card each night), the long absent Glory Days. Despite having heard this song several times in 92 (including one performance with Steve as a guest), I had never heard the E Street Band tackle this one. Somehow the song never got an outing during the Reunion tour. Max missed the cue to cut the song for Springsteen s famous false ending, but it was great nonetheless. It appeared that ! Bruce and the band were going to leave the stage for the final group of encores but, at the last minute, Springsteen called out Thunder Road. An audible!! The die-hards live for them. On the last tour, I was blessed by seeing both Something in the Night and Be True as audibles.

The final set of encores began with Bruce sitting by himself at Roy s piano. He thanked the crowd for coming out to see them (as if we re doing him a favor) and proceeded to dedicate My City of Ruins to the NJ Community Food Bank and to the people of Asbury Park. He also thanked the crowd for a fun week of rehearsals at the Convention Hall. My City of Ruins is one of the best songs on the new record and the crowd obviously loved it. The chorus of rise up, come on, rise up was sung in unison by all of the concert attendees. A powerful moment indeed.

After a fiery guitar intro similar to the one preceding Souls of the Departed on the 92 tour, at long last, Bruce and the band launched into a thrilling, full throttle version of Born in the USA one of Springsteen s best, albeit misunderstood, songs. It was a relatively traditional rendition except for the unusual inflection on the word born. Bruce somehow turned the word into two syllables so it sounded like bow WHAN. The famous howl at the end of the song was dropped but there was no shortage of stellar guitar work from Springsteen two piercing solos that raised the hair on our necks.

Land of Hope and Dreams, including a new People Get Ready outro, closed the show in glorious fashion. People get ready, there s a train comin don t need no ticket, just get on board. Hop on it s a ride you won t soon forget.

Ben Corrado wrote: Opening night at the Meadowlands...after being inside the Convention Center the previous week, was good to be inside a building with air conditioning!

The crowd was raucous as the lights went down. As expected, The Rising and Lonesome Day started things off, with both being very well received by the crowd. After a very hot version of Prove It All Night, came a very curious selection. With the crowd on its feet, dancing and yelling at the end of Prove It, he switches gears and downshifts into The Fuse. While personally I do like the song, it just did not fit in as the fourth song of the set. Everyone seemed kind of stunned that they were sitting down so soon into the show. With Darkness following it, I would have much rather seen another song in the 4th slot, with The Fuse maybe even replacing Darkness.
After Darkness, Bruce then asked the crowd to be quiet for the next two songs. With the crowd cheering, he got a big laugh by saying, "Hey, I'm excited too. I even took a relaxing piss before I came out." After everyone quieted down, it was Bruce on acoustic and Patti singing backup on Empty Sky. This was followed up by a very moving performance of You're Missing. Let me tell you, even though I was lucky not to have known anyone personally who was lost on September 11th, it still affected me very deeply as I'm sure it did most people. With these two songs back to back, I will admit to my eyes watering by the end.

At the end of You're Missing, there was a very long and loud ovation. Bruce, realizing the emotional level of these two songs, knew it was time to bring things back up. After starting out acoustically, the band launched into a very loud and fun Waitin' On A Sunny Day. When I first heard this song, I had commented that it had some roots of Hungry Heart in it, and that's they way it comes out live, with Bruce getting the crowd to sing along without the band playing. He had even commented that he was impressed that everyone knew the song so well already.

The Promised Land seemed to be a perfect preamble into Worlds Apart. Between the singing of the Sufi Choir throughout the song and Bruce's searing guitar playing, Worlds Apart had a very ethereal feel to it. The crowd was really getting into it. After taking us on a trip abroad, he brings it back home with Two Hearts and Badlands.
Mary s Place has replaced Tenth Avenue as the song where the band gets introduced. I was a bit surprised to learn the genealogy of both Roy and Max. (Those who were there will know what I m talking about.)

Into The Fire closed the set, and I was a bit disappointed Clarence didn t have the bagpipes out. Although considering the disaster at the Convention Center, guess Bruce didn t want to chance another accident.
One of my favorite parts of any Bruce show is the first drum beats to Born to Run when all the house lights come up. I like to be able to look around and see the other 20,000 people singing and dancing in unison with Bruce.
There was a very funny moment at the beginning of Glory Days. As the song started, Steven was handed his mandolin by one of the roadies. Instead of strapping it on, he handed it to a guy in the front row of the crowd to hold onto. But as he did it, he put on his best Silvio Dante face and gave the guy a look that pretty much said Don t fuck with it . He held on to it like his life depended on it. (And it just may have!)

A few overall notes about the show

At 2 ? hours, it came in a little shorter than what we ve been accustomed to, especially for an opening night in Jersey. Steven and Nils seemed to be having a lot of problems with their guitars, as roadies were constantly on stage adjusting things.

At times, Bruce was a little hard to hear when he was speaking or telling a story. Even the video screen near where I was sitting was reversed. It appeared as everyone was playing left handed.
Such are the vagaries of Opening Night of a world tour.

Philly Clete wrote: Opening night of a Bruce tour has to be magical, right? This show was not magical. This show was great. The thing about it is that every Bruce show is great. We always hope for that extraordinary, incredible show, which this show was not. For some reason, the energy dynamic between Bruce and the crowd never seemed to take off. The technical glitches were certainly distracting, but that couldn't be the entire explanation. I think that the crowd expected a longer show, also (we are so spoiled!). Overall, an uneventful opening night show. But still great.

Kevin Kelly wrote: I attended the 7/26 asbury show, so i knew what to expect. As boisterous and rowdy was the reunion tour- The Rising is somewhat solemn and intrspective. A lot of first time attendees. I sat in section 120 and most people didn't know Darkness or the Promised land. Bruce seemed nervous and a little tense. The show itself was great, high energy, passionate, etc. The new song are great live and he is able to convey his caring and sorrow personally.

"jsl1016" wrote: The Rising ? Wow. Fresh and exciting, you could see that the band was pumped as well as the crowd. Very pleased and it sounded way better than Letterman or the Today Show.

Lonesome Day ? This song rocked. That is all I can say. Everyone was having a great time, and you could see that the crowd was very into it. This was shaping up as an exciting show?

Prove it all Night ? Ummm. Is it me? He seemed to be forcing this song. Crowd was pleased but you can tell, half way through, that it is getting tired, show lost some momentum here for me.

The Fuse ? Momentum continues to wane. I don?t really like this song. I feel The Rising, as an album, was three songs too long, this being one of those songs?Bad feelings continue to grow

Darkness ? Momentum gone. Until the middle of the song that is. Wow, did Bruce attack his guitar or what? I thought he would pop all the stings on it. Momentum gaining again?

Empty Sky ? Excellent duet with Patti. Sor of takes the place of Mansion on the Hill or Factory from the reunion tour. I really like this song and this acoustic arrangement works superbly.

You?re Missing ? Such a sad song and fits so well after Empty Sky. I was fully back into the show at this point.

Waiting on a Sunny Day ? Ok, I usually think, every time I hear this song ?Bruce Cougar Mellencamp!? I just does not sound like a Bruce song?But Holy Freaking Shit Batman! What a great concert song, especially in the arrangement he brings to it. What a crowd pleaser. A definite thumbs up for the arrangement and placement in the set?Killer crowd participation concert song.

Promised Land ? Ummm, Bruce, do you have only two albums? Last I checked I had a boatload of legal, official albums that you had released. The song fit well, but it is tired and with so many albums to choose from, your fans would be very pleased with something from another record.

Worlds Apart ? Has anyone who bought the album heard this song? This is not a beer break or piss break song people! This is a rocker straight from the Prove It mold. Deal with the slow into, stay in your seats and jump up when the band kicks in! I was now very, very into this show!

Two Hearts ? Man, if you ABSOLUTELY NEED to sing a freaking duet with Steve pick another damn song! This is quickly falling in with Hungry Heart ? i.e. get it out of the set list.

Badlands ? Classic that just never gets tired (for me anyway).

Mary?s Place ? Emotional! I thought I got this song originally but I see now that I did not?until last night. This song is about loss and emotional distress and just trying to deal, if even for a night, by surrounding yourself with friends and forgetting your pain. When he uttered ?I miss you? I thought of all the friends and Family I have lost over the years and just about cried right there and then.

Counting on a Miracle ? My favorite from The Rising. I could not be more please at this point?Until?
American Skin ? Look, I KNOW this song is not about bashing cops, and I don?t particularly like cops, but a LOT of people still misinterpret this song. And seeing as how many policemen dies on 9/11, cut the misinterpreters a break and stop playing this song!

Into The Fire ? I?m still not sure about how I feel on this song. Sometimes uplifting, other times dark, it is painful to think about what firemen do for a living. I watched the WTC burn and fall so this song moves in varying emotional states each time I hear it.

End Main Set?Huh? What? Wait a minute?Where is the surprise song? You know, the one where, like on the reunion tour, no matter how much you had memorized the set list, it was always a surprise song? Like For You, or Night, or Incident, or Meeting?I felt very gypped at this point, and it would get worse?

Encores

Born to Run/Thunder Road ? I feel bad for Bruce. He HAS to play these, but you can see he does not want to. Especially Thunder Road. It almost feels like he is mumbling the words, forcing them out like they are straining his very being. You can tell he is sick of playing these tunes. As a true fan I would not mind seeing these songs replaced. I know I may be in the minority, but it is just my opinion.

Glory Days/Born in the USA ? While it was nice to hear these again (BITUSA was on Reunion tour but it is nice to hear electric again), I can see them getting old and tired very quickly. Glory Days is a great party song, but there are others he could, and hopefully will, throw in. BITUSA really does NOT fit, to me, as an encore. Should be in the main set, perhaps replacing American Skin.

My City of Ruin ? A really great piece. Love the intro. Hope it remains a staple.

Land of Hope and Dreams ? I have loved this from the moment I heard it. After seeing it so many times, I sometimes wish he would close with another song, but I love it so much, I?ll deal.

Conclusions?.

6 out of 10. 11 of 15 songs from The Rising might be too much. Cut it to 10 and throw in another (not tired please) oldie. Something fresh. Rotate a new song in every night just to give us a surprise. 10 out of 15 (two thirds) is STILL great promotion for the album. Get rid of some of the oldies and replace them with fresh oldies. The tired ones are just that, and Bruce KNOWS that 75% of the crowd at each show has seen them, so c?mon Bruce, freshen it up. We will have a better time and I know you will too as a result.

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