2009-04-28, Wachovia Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA

Working on a Dream Tour
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Notes

Eyewitness accounts

Were you there? Write about it!
2478
Tom Cantillon wrote: For me, this is where it all began on the night of December 8th 1980,so I knew that without a doubt, I had to be there tonight.
A terrific, fun, high-energy show full of surprises that made me feel as if I were once again in attendance at one of those memorable 80's shows.
Opening with Badlands is simply a terrific way to breath life into the song and jumpstart the show simultaneously. Out in the Street is always a fun song to sing along to. Another blistering version of She's the One followed a high energy Outlaw Pete.
A smoking Seeds kicked ass; always felt it was one of Bruce's best and deserved to be back in the show. A high-energy Johnny 99 and intense Ghost made for a highlight of the evening.
Love Raise Your Hand and am grateful Bruce dusted this one off and placed it in the main set. It simply kicks the show up several notches and gets those holdouts still sitting in their seats to finally get up. Great version, full of spirit. Keep it in for the rest of the tour because it works!
Sign time: Fire was great to hear, but the real surprise came with a smoldering, bluesy version of The Fever. A classic performance and, if Bruce ever releases a cd from this tour, it would be a mistake, a huge mistake not to include it.
A rocking Moutain of Love was a treat and kept things moving.
Sunny Day is ok, a bit overplayed, but what other options for sing alongs: Hungry Heart and perhaps Sherry Darling.
Kingdom of Days is very good live. Makes me want to hear more from the new cd and what the band can bring to those songs, especially This Life and What Love can Do.
Radio Nowhere, it's ok. There are far better songs that can drive that last quarter of the main set into a total meltdown: Cover Me, Trapped, Because the Night, to name a few.
Lonesome Day and Rising are fine songs, I like both, but for me, they're just a bit overplayed also. Wouldn't mind if he switched them up with No Surrender, Prove it, Human Touch or Glory Days. Rotating the songs would manage to keep them a bit more fresh.
Closing with Born to Run---outstanding!
Encore time: Hard Times is a spiritual, hope-driven song, perfect for the show. Tenth is always fun. Nice pairing of Land of Hope and Dreams with American Land, they fuel the optimism for better days.
A great, rollicking version of You Can't Sit Down definitely helped to maintain that 80's feel as Bruce and band tour thru it with all the gusto one would expect from the best rock band to ever hit the stage.
Closing out the night with Rosie was just a perfect way to send this crazed and satisfied crowd home. Hands down, one of the best shows I've seen them do anywhere. Made me miss those River tour shows, but also reminded me to be glad that I was there, then, and now, to witness something magical, as only attending the Church of Bruce can do.

McMurphy wrote: Loved it. Keep those signs for the old classics coming. The Fever was outstanding.
Bruce, don't make this one a one-night play, toss it in more often so other fans can be treated as well. Killer version!
Raise Your Hand!! Oh, yeah!
Love hearing the oldies: Mountain of Love and You Can't sit Down--amazing versions.
Someone needs to make signs for Jailhouse Rock, Rave On, Hound Dog, Great Balls of Fire and perhaps some Dylan. Would love to see the band tear thru Highway 61, Groom still Standing at the Altar or From a Buick 6.
Looking forward to Hershey Park. Last summer, it was one of the best shows of the tour. Bring Backstreets back and Saint in the City!

Turk wrote: Bruce was great as always would have love to hear incident, backstreet, lost in flood, darkness, but all in all still an amazing show and totally pumped when i left!

Owen wrote: KILLER SHOW!
Man, that band smokes no matter what they play. She's the One was intense. Seeds, which I'd never heard before blew me away.
Raise Your Hand got all those folks who for some reason were reluctant to get off their asses, to get up and actually enjoy the show.
The Fever!! UNBELIEVABLE!
I want to see them rip up Fortunate Son, Long Cool Woman and some classic Chuck Berry.
Bruce should do a night of request and toss the setlist aside for a few shows.
Looking forward to Nassau.
I'll be in the pit with a sign for either Fortunate Son or Up Around the Bend.

Philly Clete wrote: The anticipation could not have been greater for a Springsteen stand than for the two Spectrum shows this past week. It was the band's first time back at the Spectrum in almost ten years (Bruce did two superb solo "Devils and Dust" shows there in 2005). The band's last appearance at "America's Showplace" was the truly unforgettable "birthday show", on 9/24/99, the day after Bruce's 50th birthday.
Philadelphia is generally regarded as one of the two or three best cities IN THE WORLD to see a Bruce show. The combination of rabid fans, along with Bruce's appreciation for the city's impact on his career (I won't bore you with any Ed Sciaky stories here) ALWAYS translates into a superior show. Because of this, Springsteen-o-philes from around the world descend upon Philly for these events, stacking the crowd with even more great fans. It is always a wonderful scene.
Bruce has become fairly consistent with his start times so far this tour. Certainly, he didn't begin at the ticketed start time of 7:30, but he has been coming out at around 8:15 each night. Patti was not present for the show, as she continues to recuperate from a horse fall that injured her ribs.
For night one, my girls and I were sitting in the second level, in the corner behind the stage. We had a terrific vantage point, and we could see the backstage area, as well as everything going on onstage. The sound was a bit muddled, and we all had difficulty throughout the show understanding everything that Bruce said when he spoke.
I feel strongly that the crowd can influence the type of show that you see at a Springsteen event. The performer feeds off of the crowd reaction and response, and I am convinced that this is one of the reasons for such great shows in Philly. I'm not sure whether our seat location had anything to do with it (being somewhat behind the stage, the crowd noise and energy was being directed towards us), but the crowd was TERRIFIC from beginning to end. Being a sophisticated "crowd energy watcher" I don;t believe it was the seats. It was very noisy, and as always, the fans took their part in the show seriously. In Philly, we know when to respond and how to respond.
The show opened the same way that it has for the dozen preceding shows on the tour - with "Badlands". In my opinion, this is Bruce's greatest live number, and the crowd obviously went wild with their fist-pumping and chanting. Even though this song was the opener during the "Darkness" tour back in 1978, many people feel that this powerhouse song should be placed somewhere (anywhere) else in the setlist. I agree with this line of thinking (it's placement at the end of the main set on the Magic tour was awesome).
Song two was "Out In The Streets", which kept the energy level high, and the crowd participation was huge.
Next was one of only four songs from the new cd - "Outlaw Pete". This is Bruce's only shot at an "epic" song from "Working On A Dream", the record that is being supported by this tour (I think). For this song, a white sheet was extended across the back of the stage (~ 5' - 8' high) which was used to create a shadow image of Bruce when the proper lighting was used. Towards the end of the song Bruce dons a cowboy hat and the silhouette effect takes place. First, I'd like to say that I enjoy this song (it seems to be a love or hate deal with this one). The showmanship seemed a bit corny, though. I prefer Bruce being corny when he is playing it up and not taking himself seriously. Also, this visual effect could only be appreciated by a small percentage of the crowd. Certainly, no one in the second or third level of the arena got anything out of this. Bruce is notoriously low-tech with his shows, and I have always liked it that way. During earlier shows on the tour, smoke machines were used. Additionally, some type of laser lighting (left over from the Super Bowl appearance) was even employed. Thankfully, those gimmicks were left home for these shows.
Philly crowds always go crazy for "She's The One" and Tuesday was no exception. Bruce left a lot of the singing to us, and we came through for him.
"Working On A Dream" was next. I'm just not sure about the presentation of this one. In the middle of the song Bruce talked about being in Philly and at the Spectrum, which was great. He spoke heartfelt words about the history that exists between us, as he mentioned that he had appeared 30 previous times at the Spectrum, and that it was the spot of his first arena show. He then launched into the "building a house" riff, which seemed a bit awkward and forced. It seemed to bring the energy level down in a hurry.
Next up was the tour staple "recession pack". Tonight it was "Seeds", "Johnny 99", and "The Ghost Of Tom Joad". The casual fan might not appreciate this mini-set of tunes that explore different aspects of tough times, especially since these are not "hits". For me, this was one of the key themes for the show, and was presented very powerfully. Bruce has always said that the E Street Band was built for tough times. This grouping pulls a few examples of how he has written about negative life experiences. For sure, this overriding theme was in Bruce's mind when he selected "Badlands" as the opener. I would be completely remiss if I did not acknowledge the stellar solo by Nils during "Tom Joad". He is a phenomenal guitarist, and it is great to see Bruce giving him a bit of a spotlight each night.
Just as with "Badlands", where amongst all of the anguish "it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive," after the somber "Tom Joad" it was time to "Raise Your Hand".
I have been a vocal opponent of the sign thing at Bruce shows, as I believe that it distracts from the focus of the show. As Bruce collects the numerous signs from the crowd, the intro to "Raise Your Hand" is played. Once he has collected his fill of requests, the entire song is played. Sorry, but for me, "Raise Your Hand" is a show closer, not a mid-show throwaway. I will say that the crowd in the pit showed the most "sign restraint" that I have seen to date, as there was almost no distracting signs being thrust into Bruce's face each time that he approached the pit during songs.
The sign thing did yield a true, unplanned highlight - "Fire". Bruce acknowledged what he called "the finest sign that I have ever seen", which was in the lower level behind the stage, as opposed to in the pit. It took seven people to hold up the sign, as four each held up a letter from the title and three others surrounded it by holding up orange flames. This sign could not be ignored! It was a great version of the song, and Clarence joined in for maximum crowd reaction. Next, Bruce spotted a huge banner behind the stage requesting "The Fever". The band, including the two backup singers on hand for this tour, launched into a superb rendition of this Philly special (this song had been worked up, rehearsed, and was on the handwritten setlist). The crowd, fully expecting to hear this song on at least one of the nights, showed their appreciation in kind. Another absolute highlight for me.
Another sign request was "Mountain of Love", which Bruce reminded us that he played in the "Main Point" days. He had also played this song last year in St. Louis at the end of the Magic tour.
Max's son, 18 year old Jay Weinberg, took over at the drums at this point for an 8 song stint, which started off with "Waiting On A Sunny Day" and continued through the main set closing "Born To Run". In between was "The Promised Land", "The Wrestler" (excellent performance), "Kingdom Of Days", "Radio Nowhere", "Lonesome Day", and "The Rising".
When Bruce came out for the encore set, he again warmly spoke about Philly and the Spectrum, and gave his PSA plugging Philabundance and the work that they do. This was a perfect lead-in to "Hard Times Come Again No More", which was written by Stephen Foster in 1854. I enjoyed the performance, which featured all band members lining up across the front of the stage. The two backup singers, who toured with Bruce on the Seeger Sessions tour, were featured during this song, which expresses sympathy with the downtrodden.
Next up, Bruce went back into the pit to search out a sign that he noticed earlier. The song was "You Can't Sit Down", a tune by Philadelphia's Dovells. Little Steven actually toured with the Dovells a million years ago. This song, while fun, did not seem to get a great reaction, especially for the encore slot that it was given.
From there, the encore set rolled on with "Tenth Ave. Freeze-Out", "Land of Hope And Dreams", and "American Land" (I'm not sure why both of these songs appear together). After "American Land", Bruce and the band began taking their bows. It looked as though he was about to go into his "I'm too tired......I need to go home........It's too late........." shtick to egg on the crowd. But, he changed gears and said to the crowd, "One more for Philly". He then performed "Rosalita" to close out the evening at 26 songs. For me, "Rosalita" lost it's luster during the 10 show Giants Stadium stand, when it seemed that he was going through the motions with "Rosie" to throw the fans a bone for putting up with a stadium show (boy do I overthink these things!).
Some handwritten setlist analysis - "Radio Nowhere" was setlisted in front of "Seeds". "Thundercrack" was setlisted instead of "Sunny Day" but not played. "No Surrender" was listed as a possible after "Born To Run" to close out the main set, but not played. "Kitty's Back" was setlisted instead of "Rosalita".
Night one was a terrific show with several memorable highlights. The Philly crowd lived up to it's reputation, and Bruce gave us a super performance once again.


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