2005-10-15, Dane County Arena at Alliant Center, Madison, WI

Devils & Dust Tour
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"Reason to Believe" and "Land of Hope and Dreams" appear in mid-show for the first time.

Eyewitness accounts

Were you there? Write about it!
Bigsby wrote: Excellent show, much more personable than the full band, my favorites were "All That Heaven Will Allow", and "The New Timer". He talked about growing up, his family, the block where he lived, growing up, family, man, it sounded so much like my own life. Mentioned his big fan (stalker) Rich, then held up several photos of Rich on mountain tops unfurling a Bruce Springsteen banner, you could see them great on the big screens.

He joked alot about being at the Minnasota Vikings Sex party.

Played several songs he said had been requested backstage by other stalkers, er fans, Valentines Day, Wild Billy.

Bruce said it had been 30 years since he had been to Madison, and he would come back with the entire band next time, someone shouted "when", yeah, it was that quiet in this croud of maybe 5000, he answered "I don't know, if I knew I wouldn't be me".

Of all the shows I've seen in the last 25 years, I'd rate this as one of his best, and a must see. You could have walked in and bought a ticket here last night. If youve been thinking about it do it.

C. David Delp wrote: What a rare treat. To see Bruce twice a few months apart. I saw the show in Milwaukee in August and thought it was fabulous. In some ways, the show in Madison was better. For me, Madison has many memories. I saw many concerts there in the 1972-1976 period when I was in school there. I saw Bruce and the band there in February of 1977, on my 23rd birthday actually, for the first time. It may be the last time he played Madison! To be able to go back, almost 29 years later and see this show was very special. The set list was a real mix of old and new. 4 songs from the first 2 albums were just spectacular. I had not heard Incident on 57th Street in years and I was surprised how much I both remembered and loved the song. Much of the material from Devils and Dust was played in Milwaukee and the rest of this tour and was familiar. There was a little less from Darnkess, than in the Milwaukee show, just Promised Land, at the end. What special treats Highway 29 and Valentines? Day and Land of Hope and Dreams were though. This was such a great set list. I know that there were people in attendance who didn?t know much of the material and were somehow disappointed. I heard several people voice that on my way out. I think though that it had to be a treat for people who have listened from the beginning. Bruce seemed to be in great spirits all evening and performed Blinded by the Light as ?penance? for not having been in Madison for so long. He promised to bring the band back the next time. I hope that he holds to it. The only knock I?d have on the show was that the crowd seemed a little out of it to me. The Milwaukee crowd was more into the show. Nonetheless, this is a show that everyone should try to see. It is such a privilege when an artist of this magnitude lets you in this close. You may never see anything quite like it again. And hey, what about the pre concert music? Bob Dylan doing live stuff, from what sounded like the 70?s, that nobody?s ever heard before. Even a Spanish version of ?If You See Her, Say Hello?. Very rare stuff I think. Bruce is always tipping his hat to other artists. In this case, the guy that got him started in the first place. What a great show. I still don?t understand the foot stomping version of ?Reason to Believe?, but hell, it?s growing on me.

wereallgladhere.com wrote: When Nirvana closed their MTV Unplugged show with a cover of Leadbelly's "In The Pines" the MTV execs begged them to do an encore. Kurt Cobain refused, saying there was no way he could follow that performance. He was right. If MTV had been on hand to record the Springsteen show in Madison, WI last Saturday it would have probably been the same scene. Springsteen closed the show with a song called "Dream Baby Dream". I had never heard the song, so I went online for further information. It turns out nobody has heard the song. It "may" be a cover of an old song by a band called Suicide, but nobody is confirming that. It doesn't matter though, I wouldn't have wanted him to play anything but that song to close the show. That is pretty much how the entire show went. If you came expecting to get your "Born In The USA" on, tonight was not your night.

The show opened with a song Bruce co-wrote for a guy named Joe Grushecky called "Idiot's Delight". A fantastic tune made even better by his use of a distorted microphone. It sounded like some Tom Waits action, and man do we love Tom Waits around here. The majority of the setlist relied on lesser known tunes (Valentine's Day, Wild Billy's Circus), songs from the last two albums (Devils and Dust, The Rising) and very few "classics" which for the most part didn't show up until the encore (Blinded By The Light, The Promised Land). What would have been one of the more familiar songs, the Nebraska album closer "Reason To Believe", was rendered almost unrecognizable on stage. As it was recorded on the album, the song is a bare bones acoustic number with the sort of workingman's understanding tone that Bruce is famous for. On stage tonight, sung through an almost indecipherable bullet microphone, accompanied by nothing but an amplified stomping foot and a repetitive harmonica riff between lines, it took on a whole new feel. No more understanding, no more hope, it sounded like a sales pitch from Satan. "Believe in me instead". It was fucking magic. The whole show was magic from beginning to end. If you did show up to hear "Born In The USA", I'm pretty sure you still didn't leave disappointed. I don't see how anyone could. Even I didn't recognize a lot of the songs and I couldn't have cared less. It was great music played in a great way. It's hard to be disappointed by that.

Mark Stitt wrote: There is an anticipation, a buzz, that builds on the day of a Springsteen concert. I had been holding back a bit, but on Saturday morning Sherri and I left our hotel and did a test run to the Dane County Arena to see how long of a drive it was. As we were driving around the arena, we saw Bruce's tour bus parked out back. Despite my attempts,I could not get Sherri to agree to go up and knock on the door to see if we could come on board and chat with Bruce. This was mainly due to the fact that she asked me what I would even say if I got an audience, to which I had to confess to being tongue-tied...

The cool thing about seeing Bruce several times on one tour is that he never does thesame show twice. So it was Saturday night in Madison. Good crowd, I would guess the venue held around 5 or 6,000, pretty full. It is a circular arena, looking up at the ceiling was like looking at the underside of a space ship from 'Close Encounters'! Gotto chat with a couple of women sitting in front of us who had flown in from Portland Oregon for the Chicago show, then decided to go ahead and drive up the road a bit to see the
Madison show. I tell ya, these Bruce fans are a crazy lot!

A little after 8:00, Bruce strolled out on to the stage without introduction, wearing faded blue jeans and a flannel shirt that brought back memories of the cover of 'Darkness', and started right in on a song I had never heard before, 'Idiot's Delight'.
Followed that with Across The Border/Devils & Dust/Empty Sky/Long Time Comin/Highway 29/All That Heaven Will Allow. Up to this point, he had not spoken much to the crowd, just played one song right after another. He then paused briefly to say the next song was a request, sat at the piano and played a beautiful version of 'Incident on 57th Street'. Followed that with a smoky Delta blues version of 'Reason To Believe', then did his falsetto voice for 'All I'm Thinkin About', which required him to sing with his eyes closed and left eyebrow in the up position, quite entertaining.

Now that he had the opening portion of the concert behind him, Bruce loosened up and started talking to the crowd. He said that the main
question he used to hear was "what is it like being The Boss?" to which he used to reply "Get the f*ck out of here" but now he goes more for the humble man of the people approach. Laughing as he talked, he said that approach works pretty well and he planned to keep it up for a while and thathe does not lord it over people in public, but prefers to do that in private! He saidthere were many perks that came with being that popular, including getting invited to the White House. "But not lately" he added to much laughter, then played 'Ain't Got You' which he wrote to describe that very situation. Followed that up with a rocking version of 'Nebraska', then 'Reno' and a couple of rarities 'Valentine's Day' and 'Lost in the Flood'. Bruce was in top form and the crowd was enthralled with the performance. At one point he stopped to show off some photos that a fan had sent him that showed the fan standing on top of Mount Kilimanjaro while holding up a Bruce sign, and then another shot of the same fan on yet another mountain top holding up another Bruce sign. Bruce commented that these were the types of fans he tended to shy away from, which got a large round of laughs.

The final portion of the show kicked off with a stunning version of 'The Rising' where Bruce is backlit with a spotlight, and as he sings a story of 9/11 he is bathed inbright light and becomes a conduit for a power greater than the song itself, very emotional.

After thunderous applause, he followed with' Further On (Up the Road)', then he told a story about growing up Catholic, with all of his relatives living on the same block, and how his aunt used to get real scared during thunderstorms and would take him into a closet and sprinkle him with Holy Water, to which Bruce made the point that as a 6 year old, that was not all that comforting. He then played 'Jesus Was an Only Son' and once again I thought how cool it would have been for him to record that version forthe album, where he tells a little story between verses about how Jesus did not really want to climb the hill to Calvary but instead daydreamed about managing a bar in Galilee with Mary Magdalene as a bartender, and how they could raise kids and just watch them grow up every day, and the day after that, and the day after that. My description fails to capture how dramatic of a presentation it actually was, but it was quite moving. Iguess my own Catholic upbringing has a lot to do with that.

Coming into the home stretch now, an acoustic guitar version of 'Land of Hopes and Dreams", then sat on a stool and placed an autoharp on his lap and played a song he wrote for a friend 'The New Timer'. It was so cool, Bruce just strummed the harp withhis left hand and played the buttons with his right, well done. Finished off the set with 'Matamoras Banks' and yes, that triggered a stage rush. He barely left the stage, then walked back out and strummed a ukulele (yes, a ukulele!), and played 'Growin Up', which the crowd sang along with word for word. Followed that with 'Wild Billy's CircusStory', then acknowledging a fan in the audience holding up a sign Bruce said, "Well, if you are gonna go thru the trouble to make a sign I guess I got to sing the song", picked the opening notes, leaned into the mike and sang "Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer" from 'Blinded By The Light' from his very first album! How COOL was that? The crowd stood and sang along the entire song, and at the end Bruce threw his head back and sang "Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun, Oh but Mama that's where the fun is" and I could see the years melt away, it was a youngBruce on stage, the familiar pose of bent knees and a shoulder shrug as he played the guitar, stompin his boots to keep time, grinning from ear to ear. What a treat! He then did 'The Promised Land' but instead of strumming chords on the guitar he just did a style of syncopation of keeping a beat by drumming his fingers and thumb against the body of the guitar while hitting the strings. Hard to describe, but absolutely amazing performance of one of his classics.

The crowd had been on its feet for the entire encore, Bruce waved and started to walk off stage but the cheers and whistles rose to such a crescendo that he strolled back to the mike and shouted "One more", sat at the pump organ and closed with a beautiful version of 'Dream Baby Dream'. As the organ continued to play, he got up and stood at the front of the stage, single blue spotlight shining down, swaying back and forth while singing "C'mon dream baby dream, I just wanna see you smile, I just wanna see you smile, c'mon dream baby dream". Mission accomplished! He finished singing, waved to the crowd and walked off as the pump organ continued to play the final notes, the crowd gave a long and appreciative round of applause. Just a great ending to yet another great performance.

So concluded Bruce concert number 9 for me (4 KC, 5 road trips).

Sherri and I went out to eat after the show, and were jabbering away at each other, our Bruce buzz was full upon us. I told her, it is just CRAZY to even think about going to see him again some where on this tour, isn't it? Yes, that is just crazy. Hmmmm...


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