2009-04-29, Wachovia Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA

Working on a Dream Tour
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Notes

Eyewitness accounts

Were you there? Write about it!
2479
carl wrote: it was my first bruce concert. it rocked. born to run was great. kittys back was great to end the show. i was surprised with spirit in the night. it was a greatr set

Phillies fan wrote: Thanks Bruce for dedicating Thunder Road to beloved longtime Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas.

Tom Cantillon wrote: Night 2 in Philly was great, but for me, night 1 stood out simply because it seemed more loose and spontaneous, along with a better selection of songs and surprises.
I was also a little disappointed Bruce did not talk about playing there the night John Lennon was killed, as well as the night after because those shows were epic.
Overall, still, a high-energy blast, one I was lucky enough again to score a ticket to in the parking lot 10 minutes before the show.
Ties and Spirit were great.
London Calling just blew the roof off the place! Powerful version.
Red Headed Woman was fun, but after London Calling, Bruce needed another rocking song to keep things going as he lead the band into a glorious version of Thundercrack.
Streets of Philadelphia was expected, but it would have been nice to have gotten E Street Shuffle or Racing in the Streets, something classic to make the show special.
Thunder Road and Tenth were nice to hear back to back.
Kitty's Back was amazing! Always a treat to hear this live.
A terrific show without a doubt, but it never rose to the status of being a legendary show. Night 1 was, in my opinion.

Eric G wrote: I was the closest I've ever been at any concert I've been to. I checked the Wachovia website the night before to see if any more tickets were released, and seats had been released in section 218. I bought 2 seats for my mother and I, and I thought we were going to be on the second level. To my surprise, the 200's were actually the first level. Even more surprising, my seat, which my ticket said was row 7, turned out to be row 2, as that section's first row was actually row 6. I couldn't believe how close I was. We were off to the side, a little towards the back, and right at the end of one side of the back walkway. There were times when Bruce was only 10 feet away from me.

Badlands was great as the opener. The Ties That Bind I have not seen played much and was glad to see that one played. Spirit In The Night was fun as usual. A boy was on his father's shoulders on the floor, and Bruce reached way out over the audience to hold onto the boy's hand. Seeds and Johnny 99 I had never seen played before, so that was a highlight for me. I really wanted the hard rock Ghost Of Tom Joad next, but I knew it was already played the night before and we would get Youngstown in that slot. Raise Your Hand really had the audience up on participating in the shout out parts. I'm not thrilled about Bruce doing cover songs, but I have to say this song really worked and would like to see this song done again. Bruce came up on the back ramp for this, and was right by me singing it, and also came back by me when he sang Hungry Heart. The absolute highlight for me was Streets Of Philadelphia. I had only seen this song played one time before, 10 years ago the very first time I saw Bruce in concert. Starting with Radio Nowhere, Jay Weinberg sat in for the rest of the show. I was glad to get Thunder Road in the encore. I could do without the return of Land Of Hope And Dreams, and I think American Land could go. I'd rather see two old classics in that slot. At the end of the show it was nice to see Kitty's Back again.

Overall it was an amazing experience, and I hope that I will one day get to be that close at a concert again.

Keith wrote: GREAT SHOW! The dedication to Harry Kalas literally brought tears to my eyes. Bruce really knows how to connect with his audience. Loved the London Calling performance! Don't try to STUMP the E-Street Band!

Philly Clete wrote: Die hard Bruce fans (I believe that I qualify) know that night two of a multi-night stand in the same city is the show to look for. In addition to whatever psychological reasons there might be, I feel that there is a very practical reason for this. Bruce never schedules more than two nights in a row for shows, whether it is one city or several on a tour. On night one, he knows that the next night he has to summon up the incredible energy needed to perform once again. On night two, he knows that he will have the following day off and he can play until he drops. Also, he knows that there is a huge amount of fans that attend both nights of a two-night stand. Bruce takes great pride in the fact that every night is a different show, so he puts a lot of thought into changing things up. Historically, the "wow" setlists invariably occur on a night two. As an example, night two at the Spectrum featured TEN songs that were not played the night before.
Wednesday's show started ~ 8:15 once again. Each night, Bruce walks Clarence up the steps to the stage - the Big Man is not very mobile at all. He spends most of the evening sitting on a stool, and only moves to the center of the stage for a few solos ("Badlands", "Promised Land"). My girls and I were sitting in the second level, just on the other side of "center ice". We had a great view, once again (every seat has a great view, which is why the Spectrum should be allowed to live!). We all agreed that the sound was better for us on night two, as it was a bit easier to understand Bruce when he spoke. Obviously, our location may have played a large part in this observation.
The show started with "Badlands" once again, and we were off. The first switch from night one was "The Ties That Bind", which sounded great. "Outlaw Pete" also sounded great to me (I might me in the minority on this one) but, again I was not a fan of the presentation. After Pete, Bruce asked if we could "Feel the Spirit" - we surely could. An excellent rendition of "Spirit In The Night" followed, with a lot of time spent at the pit by Bruce.
After "Working On A Dream", which included the "building a house" exhortations, came the recession pack. Tonight, instead of "Tom Joad" we got an intense "Youngstown". We weren't disappointed about missing Nils' fabulous solo on "Joad", because we got an equally phenomenal solo from him on "Youngstown". It is worth noting that during the band introductions (during "American Land") Bruce deservedly calls Nils "one of the greatest guitar players in the world".
Next it was sign time and "Raise Your Hand" once again. I'm not sure if this is cheating, but, after seeing a sign for the Clash's "London Calling" the night before, the band worked up the number. It even appeared on the handwritten setlist with a "?". Bruce pulled a sign from the crowd asking for it, which also taunted "did this stump the E Street Band?". This was a perfect prop for Bruce to mug it up with, as he scoffed at the thought of the band being stumped. Cheating or not, I am thrilled that they rehearsed this one. The song rocked, and it was one of my highlights of the evening.
Patti was back for night two, as she continues to recuperate. I am not a Patti fan by any stretch, but I really noticed a positive difference in night two with her vocal contributions. Bruce introduced Patti, then sung "Red Headed Woman" for her (and with her, as she took some of the verses). The whole thing seemed a bit awkward to me, and there was an awful lot of "kissing up" in the vibe. Believe it or not, Bruce actually made it a point to say it takes "one" red-headed woman "to get a dirty job done". Was he being this specific because of the rumors about he and another "red-headed woman"??
Bruce talked about his "Main Point" days again, and then we all grooved with him for "Thundercrack", which was stellar. Bruce was visibly gratified by the instant (and loud) crowd participation on this one. Bruce, Nils, and Soozie were great as they jammed at the front of the stage during the group solo (is that an oxymoron?). Towards the beginning of the Magic tour, Bruce played "Thundercrack" in the encore set on a nightly basis. The response to this song in Philly last year was amazing. At that show, at the end of the song Bruce simply said, "Thanks, Philly". It seems that Philly was the only city to embrace it (including in Jersey), and it soon disappeared from the Magic setlist for good. I was thrilled that he remembered the Philly reaction last time, and that he brought it back for the Spectrum.
The band was all set for "Sunny Day", but an instant before Bruce strummed the first note, he switched guitars, gave the audible to the band, and went with "Hungry Heart". Always a crowd favorite, the sing-along was strong. During the last chorus, Bruce left the stage, sat on the hockey "boards" and thrust the microphone into the face a sweet looking older woman. Of course, we all knew that it was Adele Springsteen, the Boss's mom. She did a pretty lousy job remembering the words, which tickled Bruce, who kept saying, "c'mon ma! c'mon ma!" After a quick kiss, he was back on stage saluting his mother with some Italian phrases that I couldn't catch. A very warm moment.
I have heard "The Promised Land" innumerable times over the past few years. The rendition on night two at the Spectrum was the finest version that I remember in a long, long time. There was an intensity that I hadn't felt from it for a long while - a great classic performed in great fashion.
Another Philly special was "The Streets of Philadelphia", which was greeted with the hometown appreciation that you would expect.
Jay Weinberg took over on drums at this point, and finished out the final 11 songs of the show.
"Kingdom of Days", which is my favorite song from the new cd, sounded great with Patti included this evening. This number was a good example of the positive impact that her presence had (no offense to Soozie, who did a fine job the night before).
"Radio Nowhere", "Lonesome Day", "The Rising", and "Born To Run" closed out the main set once again, and the encore began with "Hard Times Come Again No More" just as the night before.
Bruce dedicated the next song to Harry Kalas. He introduced an audio clip that was recorded by Harry the K ~ 1986. Harry is doing play-by-play and announcing a rookie coming to bat named Bruce Springsteen. He is facing The Big Man, who is bringing it at 95 mph. Springsteen hits a grand slam, called as only Harry can do it. At this point, Bruce is running around the imaginary base path, blowing kisses to his baseball fans. It was a very cool thing to see and hear, and another example of the Bruce - Philly history together. This led to a FANTASTIC "Thunder Road", with Bruce beaming at the crowd as we sang our parts (and most of Bruce's parts, too). Due to Clarence's physical condition, Steve stood at the opposite end of the stage from Bruce during the final instrumental stanzas of the song instead of Clarence. I LOVED this performance of my favorite song of all time.
"Tenth", "LOHAD", and "American Land" followed, just as on night one.
After the bows, Bruce once again said "One more for Philly", but this time added, "and one more for the Spectrum". We were then treated to a jazzy, solo-filled, cool-rocking, finger-snapping, crowd-loving, 15-20 minute "Kitty's Back". Bruce was so pleased with the song and the crowd interaction that when it ended, he spontaneously called for one more reprise of the finale. What a super way to end a terrific show. Final bows and then the band left the stage, with Bruce helping Clarence back down the steps, and it was over.

Mysteriously, "Working On A Dream" was NOT on the original handwritten setlist (I think that this was just an oversight, and it WAS intended to be played). Otherwise, the only change from the handwritten setlist was the switch from "Sunny Day" to "Hungry Heart". This leads to an observation regarding the impact of Jay Weinberg on the shows. While it is true that Jay brings new excitement to the band, and he can surely pound the skins, I think that it takes a lot away from the show. It is obvious that we are watching Jay's "rehearsals" for his stint in Europe for the shows that Max cannot attend (due to his obligation to Conan O'Brien at the start of his elevation to the 11:30 time slot). Bruce spent a lot of time looking at Jay and guiding him with his head movements to be sure that he was in sync with the band. With Jay playing drums on the entire encore set on night two, this left no chance for any wild, last second audible by Bruce to play some obscure song from 30 years ago ("The Price You Pay", anyone?). It is extremely rare (especially in Philadelphia) for there to be only one (or two) diversions from the handwritten setlist. I feel that some of the spontaneity of the shows was taken away by Jay's presence. Call me nostalgic, but I want to see Max behind the drum kit for every note. I love seeing how he reacts to the slightest movement, or even facial gesture by Bruce. Their musical relationship is truly one of the coolest things about a Bruce show.


Of the two shows, I believe that night two was better, mainly because of the stellar setlist ("Spirit", "Thundercrack", "Thunder Road", "Kitty's Back"). The crowd was awesome on both nights (as Philly crowds always are). The relationship between Bruce and Philly cannot be denied (for his first two albums, Bruce's record sales from Philadelphia made up a huge percentage of overall national numbers), and Bruce's appreciation is palpable. I do think, however, that maybe, for the first time in my life, the buildup and expectations for Bruce show(s) were too great for an almost 60 year old performer to match. These shows were great, terrific, fun, exciting events. But, I don't think that the word legendary applies. Having said that, I must point out once again - Bruce Springsteen NEVER disappoints.

In closing, as I always say, I am very lucky to be from Philadelphia, home of Bruce Springsteen's greatest shows.

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