2002-08-20, The Rose Garden, Portland, OR

The Rising Tour
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Atlantic City gets its tour premiere along with Backstreets, although the latter had been played at one of the rehearsal shows.

Appr. 2 hours, 30 minutes.

Eyewitness accounts

Were you there? Write about it!
"FreeholdJohnny" wrote: ust got back to Seattle from Portland and it is 2:17 a.m. Washington state time. I am going to Tacoma tonight so I got to make this rather short and sweet. Well, my friend was right about a change coming in the setlist in Portland. Fantastic version of Backstreets added as well as a Reunion Tour style Atlantic City. I got down to Portland about 4:00 p.m., grabbed a parking slot for $13 and headed over to check out the Rose Garden, which is located just off I-5.

There were about 200 people in one line winding around the facility, and about the same in another line. I had reserved tickets, so I headed straight to the elevator and the fourth floor to hear the soundcheck and they were already at it. I knew that you could hear it from a certain spot crystal clear so I didn't bother with anything else. It did not disappoint. Three songs were the primary work: Dancing in the Dark, Atlantic City, and Backstreets. Dancing in the Dark is very well developed and ready to go Tacoma or Los Angeles, my guess.

They also played a ton of short odd pieces that I couldn't make out what it was. I doubt a new non-Rising song, so maybe just part of the soundcheck. But the soundcheck went long and they delayed letting people in the stadium because it ran over. Because I had reserved seats, I then ambled down to the first floor, out the door, and over to the entranceway, gave my ticket, and headed in. The Rose Garden was slow to fill up and we got a good dose of Little Steven's Underground Garage, which was great but 2 plus hours of doo wop did start to get to me by the end. Had a funny conversation with the guy sitting above me who informed me that Patty called the shots and whatever the setlist was would be her call. That since Bruce married her, she makes all the decisions, and that if it were him he'd let her know who the real boss was. The guy was tanked and kind of funny. Hey, it passes the time and it was either him or the Underground Garage. I think we got started about 8:15 Oregon time.

The Garden was about 90 percent full, but it is hard to tell because the GA was only about half full, but it definitely was not a sellout. But it wasn't empty by any stretch either. Bruce came out in all black and wearing his haven't shaved or bathed in a couple days look. The band was in great form, and many of the issues others have spoken about I didn't really notice. The sound is turned up a decibal compared to the Reunion Tour and this concert definitely highlights Bruce much more. He takes almost all the guitar solos and is much more serious than Reunion. Not nearly the interplay with band members and very little conversation. He didn't say anything other than Hello Portland until right before Empty Sky when he said, "Hello Portland. It's a nice little place. A nice little spot. I spent a night here once." Then he just started giggling uncontrollably and finally looked over at Patty and said, "What was I thinking?" The reference was obviously to marriage one which took place of course in a Portland sub.

The sound was great but a little loud for my taste. There was feedback two or three times but nothing that took away from the show. Backstreets was awesome; no 41 Shots or Darkness; but I am not one to quibble over setlist. Born in the USA was awesome; Glory Days spectacular. MCOR: what can I say; a real gem of a song. Bruce gave his food bank pitch and mentioned that our civil rights were being eroded, which I think he has done at other shows. Those that thought Bruce had the eye for Soozie couldn't be more wrong; he and Patty showed great chemistry and at the end of the show, Soozie and Patty walked down the stairs arm in arm. I will say that Nils and Garry now make up kind of a back row of simply playing while Clarence, Bruce, and Steve make up the core of the interaction. No major solos for Nils either. But he seemed happy for those wondering.
Overall, it is a different show than Reunion, a lot less interplay among the band, much more Bruce, the new songs aren't quite as layered and textured as the old stuff, of course, but they'll get there. Well, I am ready to head to bed; post tomorrow morning after Tacoma with another review. I bet they add Dancing in the Dark, unless they get to bed too late themselves and decide to hold off until L.A. I'm out. I'm not proofreading this, so hope it's coherent.

Michael West wrote: The Professor meandered onto the stage at approximately 8.20pm, the first of the band members to enter the Rose Garden proper. The rest of the group followed close behind with Bruce bringing up the rear and, naturally, receiving the biggest ovation. I had 200-level reserved seats on the Big Man?s side, and rose with a tear in my eye to applaud them all. Personally, I wouldn?t have minded standing for the entire show, but as The Rising began people around me started to take their seats again so I followed suit.

My immediate impression of the concert was that the mix was too muddy. Perhaps this was simply due to my position, as the arena itself is fantastic and I?m assuming has great acoustics. Regardless, at this point Gary?s bass was ?wobbly?, Bruce?s vocals were a touch overpowering and I would have liked Max to be more prominent. These technical problems slightly shadowed my enjoyment of the opening song, but my eyes showed me that the intensity from everyone was present from the very off. The band shifted into Lonesome Day with a nice segue, and although the sound wasn?t perfect for this number either, I was delighted to see Bruce?s body language at this point. He was positively brimming with passion and energy. For my money, Bruce was the show?s MVP by an astronomical distance. For a man of his age, the amount of zest and punch he had from start to finish was breathtaking. Not only that, but I struggle to recall when I?ve ever seen him in such a good mood! Broad smiles, belly laughs and more besides. A far cry from the ?serious? figure of earlier shows.

They transitioned into Prove It All Night without the customary count-in from Bruce, and this garnered a decent enough reaction from the gathered throng. The mix was noticeably improving at this juncture. One of my (admittedly VERY minor) quibbles about the show was the overall lack of participation on the crowd?s part. Yes, the house was only around 75% full (lots of blacked-out front and rear 300-level seats) but those present were still too subdued for my tastes. Additionally, it didn?t appear that many folks around my section were overly familiar with the new material. On the bright side, at least they didn?t talk all over it! I thought that Prove It started off relatively slow, but picked up speed at a rate of knots. Bruce busted out a KICK-ASS solo as the song neared conclusion, his face scrunched up tight and body contorting with the effort and concentration. It is always a pleasure to watch the Mighty One get completely carried away in this moment, crashing those drums as though his very life depended on it. This was one of many highlights for the night, and as Bruce and Max cast their magic spell the audience began to stand around me, expecting another upbeat track to truly blow the roof off. So, following up with The Fuse proved to be somewhat of an atmosphere dampener. The folks who?d taken more time to warm-up and get into it immediately sat down again. I actually really enjoyed the live performance of this song, and it received very warm applause. It?s a very ?deliberate? song (if that makes any sense), and I didn?t find myself wanting to throttle Patti ?I normally sound like a hyperactive rodent base freak? Scialfa, which is practically a first. However, I do feel that it gave the show an odd momentum at this early stage. Nil?s solo, in an otherwise quiet show for him where he looked quite bored at times, was excellent. Great to see Bruce sidling up next to him, nodding his head and repeatedly saying ?come on? as the Trampoline Man wailed away.

Up next was a tour debut! After religiously reading the (predominantly static) set-lists for the previous shows, it had been drummed into my thick skull that Darkness On The Edge Of Town would be in this slot. No questions asked. So, when Max started laying down a different beat it didn?t even register with me for a couple of seconds. Then I got to thinking if they had completely altered the arrangement?! After my initial shock had subsided I called it as Atlantic City, and found myself thinking that I?d been very lucky just to get to hear this. I believe that it does fit thematically and musically in this slot, and is an excellent track to rotate in-and-out when Bruce desires. The performance itself was very similar to the last tour?s versions. Bruce sang certain sections a little differently, hitting higher and drawing out certain phrases. If I?m going to be overly critical I?d say it sounded a tiny bit rusty, but this didn?t make a mark on my Enjoyment Radar by any stretch.

Bruce spoke to the crowd before the somber section of the show, asking for some quiet. He went on to talk about how he?d got married here before and that he thought it was a nice place. Realizing his error, he looked across to Patti and said words to the effect of ?whoops, I?m in the shit now!?. He drew this out for quite some time, to laughter all around, making it the closest thing to a true speech that he?s delivered for a while. Empty Sky was another huge plus point of the show. Hauntingly beautiful and much improved over a now plodding and pedestrian album cut. Bruce and Patti harmonized superbly, with The Boss himself in SUPERB vocal form. The look on his face showed how deep he was digging, and he struck gold with a range I don?t believe I?ve ever heard escape him before. Compared to what I thought were very mediocre vocals on the Reunion Tour, it was like witnessing a different person. You?re Missing followed, one of my favorites from the album. In concert I feel it is even better. Delicate and touching but still poignant and powerful at the same time, with the everyday lyrics bringing home the reality of true loss. Thankfully, Max isn?t as high in the mix as he is on the album, letting the violin, piano and organ do their work masterfully. As The Phantom sees the song home, Springsteen turns away from the crowd to direct him with repeated gestures with his left index finger. I thought Soozie played flawlessly all evening, and her influence on You?re Missing had me crying like a crack-whore in a strictly no soliciting zone.

Waitin? On A Sunny Day was great, and served well in picking up the audience and the mood. Bruce was particularly active, stalking the stage with his presence and encouraging participation, a la Hungry Heart. The crowd did sing it with him, but compared to how this part had gone on the East Coast it must have been considered disappointing overall. Deafening it wasn?t. The Promised Land hit next. I thought it started off pretty sluggishly, and it was becoming quite apparent that the new material was being performed 100% better than a lot of the old warhorses. It had more energy, more weight, more punch. More everything. To those who complain about the sets without having seen a show, wait ?til you catch one. To those who complain after having seen a show, I suggest you stop living in the past. It?s sad. Getting back to the show itself, the Big Man nailed his solo, as he did practically everything all night. I was very impressed with him and he was my #2 MVP behind Bruce. Always smiling, and his weight loss has him being much more active these days. Every crowd loves him to pieces. Little Steven?s solo didn?t exactly blow me away, nor did any other work from him.

Ok, World?s Apart. Let me start by saying that I really like the album version a great deal. However, I thought the live version was, overall, a muddy mess. I know the song has great potential but, right now for me, it really does not cut the mustard. To begin with, the intro is nice but too long. Instead of grabbing your attention and holding it, the song begins to meander away from you. Bruce gets very into it at the song?s beginning, leaning backwards with his eyes closed, swaying almost imperceptibly. The middle section is ok but the band don?t exactly sound well-oiled. There?s no separation of the instruments and they seem to blend together in an unspectacular fashion. If they?re trying to mould it into a show-stopper they?re shit out of luck at the moment. Steve needs to either learn his solo or lose it, as it essentially goes nowhere. Fast. Bruce?s solo, like Steve?s, is too long and I was struggling to fathom any real pattern or tune to the playing. That aside, I fucking LOVE this track live. Leaves Incident dying in the dirt.

Transitioned straight into Badlands, and if I?m being perfectly honest, I was a little under whelmed with it. The versions we saw for The River and BITUSA tours are long gone now. It got the crowd animated, but like the other Darkness tracks took some time to fully kick into life. Though, having said that, I did find a tear in my eye with the ?I believe in the love you gave me?? section, for no better reason than it is exceptional writing and seeing it live is mind-blowing. This led straight into Bobby Jean. Whatever you think about this song, it DOES fit thematically (at least, a damn sight better than Two Hearts). First time I?d seen it since the Tunnel tour, when I was only seven years old. Always loved the song and cried all the way through it. Got a nice enough pop when it kicked in and the crowd seemed to enjoy it. Sure, it wasn?t the most flawless performance of the song I?ve ever seen, but I am pleased to report that the Big Man nailed his solo (something he didn?t do with great regularity on the last tour? er, with anything really).

Mary?s Place followed. I loved this, but it wasn?t without its flaws. I can?t help feeling that Bruce brings it to a halt it too many times for the crowd to really grab hold of some momentum and run with it. Bruce was up on the piano at one stage, next to the Big Man. As he jumped down he knocked into Soozie, which brought smiles from both of them. The band introductions were relatively sparse. I thought the blue lighting that washes over the floor to accompany the ?Let it rain? lines was a very nice touch, and Bruce?s lamentation of ?I?ve been missing you? was beautiful. An emotional moment. Countin? On A Miracle, by way of contrast, was uninspired and, in my opinion, adds absolutely nothing to a generic Bruce-by-numbers album cut. I?d like to see this song receive a SIGNIFICANT makeover (acoustic?) or be replaced by one of the four other album tracks that are not currently in the set. If they want a rocker in this slot, why not opt for Further On Up The Road? Better track, and still serves the purpose of promoting the new material. Same goes for World?s Apart if that doesn?t improve.

Fully expected 41 Shots to be the next song, which would have been great with me as I really rate it. However, was practically knocked out of my seat when Roy started Backstreets! Another tour debut and I literally couldn?t believe it. Turns out that it was sound checked earlier in the day and was a last minute audible shouted out from Bruce. Being perfectly honest, I had tears running down my face for the entire song and can only really remember adoring every second of it. The one thing that stood out as different to the Reunion version was Bruce?s delivery at the very end. Instead of the usual multiple moans we got a higher pitched more yodel-like emission. I mouthed a silent ?thank you? to the band at the end, which kinda says it all really. Into The Fire had a nice extended intro which kicked into a superb version. At THIS POINT in time I wasn?t convinced as to its placement as set closer.

Thunder Road opened the encores, and far from Bruce closing his eyes and mumbling his way through it, he was actually wearing a big smile across his lips and was really into it. There was a hint of twang early on but it didn?t last long enough to become annoying. Indeed, compared to how he ritually SLAYED it with some horrendous versions on the last tour, this was like a breath of fresh air. Yes, it was played slower than is ideal and was a mite pedestrian, but the second half was really fun, the crowd lap it up every time and I guess I?d rather see it than not. Glory Days was, to my great surprise, fantastic. Never really been a fan of either album or live versions before, but the house band brought it to life and it seemed fresh and fun. Most of the band members were patrolling all over the stage, paying close attention to the rear seats and getting everyone back there pumped up. Lots of silly faces and daft dancing, with Bruce and Clarence shaking their booties at the lip of the stage! Born To Run, as always, got the biggest ovation of the evening. Played with the house lights up, this was an excellent version. Thought it might have been played a TOUCH too slow but this is being overly pedantic really. Found myself crying for the ?Someday girl, I don?t know when?? part, which is probably my favorite line of all-time.

My City Of Ruins got the second encore underway. Bruce started out on piano for the first verse before handing the reigns back to Roy. Once again, another superb performance of a song from the new album. Born In The USA was preceded with the short speech about the rolling back of civil liberties. No over-the-top count-in from Bruce was the first indicator that he was not going to have this song misunderstood like it was back in 84/85. He didn?t want it to be a celebration, so let?s not get the crowd into it before its even begun. First impressions was that the song seemed darker, angrier, dirtier and moodier then before. This before Bruce had sung a single line. It sounded fabulous. It is sung markedly differently to the full band versions we?ve heard before. Bruce delivers a pace where you can?t QUITE shout along at the top of your lungs and pump your fist. I thought this was a great ploy. At least it saved me from a potential dumb-ass jingoistic fuck ruining the song for me. No scream from Bruce but some VERY cool guitar work. Again, worked to immense results in tandem with Max, who absolutely OWNS this song. The segue into Land Of Hope And Dreams was a touch rough but the song itself was excellent. Seemed to be played a little bit quicker than the last tour. Bruce?s facial expressions and delivery of the ?People Get Ready? there?s a train coming? lines was worth the admission fee alone. It?s the one image that continually returns to me when I think of this show.

So, in conclusion I guess?

The show length is ABSOLUTELY FINE. Nigh-on perfect I?d go as far as saying. Doesn?t seem like ?only? 2 hours 30 minutes. Again, for the losers who have been complaining about the show length without actually GOING to the concert, your parents have my sympathy. The band was VERY tight for this early in the tour. Surprisingly tight, I thought. Personally, I?d like the pacing of the show to be looked at a little bit. It has an undulating momentum in my opinion. In hindsight, with my shows arriving very early on in the tour I wish I?d had the willpower to stay away from reading the set lists. I?m thankful I didn?t know any of the arrangements for the material that was offered up, but can?t help feeling that the overall excitement factor would have been higher for me. The price you pay for being a fanatic, I guess. At THIS POINT I would have liked another hard rocker to close after LOHAD. Overall, an absolutely AWESOME show, marred only marginally due to a pretty quiet crowd and less-than-perfect acoustics in my section. Absolutely one of the best shows I?ve ever seen. I?d pay double the admission fee to see it.


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