With three hours, thirty minutes and a handful of seconds past, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band wrapped up the first of two sold-out shows at Wrigley Field.
"It is amazing that one dude can bring all these people together."
The thought from Kristin after her first Springsteen show sums up the unification of the night, that which I've seen time and again from the band.
In the most legendary of ball fields, with rockers, hard-cases, frat boys, and suits, and a host of people ranging from young children to those well over the age of my parents, we sang and danced the night away, exorcising our fears, angers, and perhaps a few baseball ghosts. Oh, who am I kidding? The ghosts stuck around for the show.
Springsteen brought to the show what he does the best; the tales of the hardest of times, mistakes made and opportunities never had and, above all, a refusal give in. Though the politics were light, Bruce still brought with him the fight, summed up best by Greg Kot in "the power of informed dissent". The music of the Boss says always we never lie down, that hope is always around the corner. There's a train coming.
The ghosts of Wrigley were not the only folks hanging about last night. Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello spent a fair portion of the show on stage with E Street. The highlight of his appearance was the tearing rendition of Ghost of Tom Joad, with his guitar solo bringing the crowd to a roar and tearing off every roof in Wrigleyville.
Not to be outdone, Chicago's own Eddie Vedder stepped onstage to assist with a spirited Atlantic City.
Both guests would return to finish the show. Never would I have expected to watch members of Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine sharing a mic in a cover of the Isley Brother's Twist and Shout, but in the city of Ferris Bueller, these things happen. To quote the review from Consequence of Sound: "Many sang, everyone danced."
Among those dancing was a young girl holding a sign requesting Waitin' On A Sunny Day. As the band broke through the song, the Boss pulled the girl on stage, where the crowd of Wrigley witnessed the genuine burst of joy that music makes possible. She sang. She swung around in Bruce's arms. I'm certain she's still dancing this very morning. With age 63 just around the corner, Bruce is still able to wow an audience of all ages. His own reference to the subject: “I think I’m starting to steal from Justin Bieber’s audience.” We thank you for that, Bruce (no offense to Mr. Bieber).
The Big Man was in house with the other spirits last night. The late Clarence Clemons' nephew Jake brought his uncle into the stadium with a saxophone performance worthy of the man it honored. As we saw previously in Detroit, the band has turned Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out into a tear-worthy tribute, pausing the music at the classic lyrical reference to the Big Man, the crowd roaring, cheering and crying as photographs of our fallen E Street icon flash across the stage. The roar held. The tears fell. And then we sang and danced again.
Thanks to Consequence of Sound, Greg Kot, and Stan Goldstein for keeping better track of the setlist (see below) than I. Be sure to check out their photos from the show, as well as their own reviews.
Main Set: Prove It All Night My Love Will Not Let You Down Out in the Street Hungry Heart We Take Care of Our Own Wrecking Ball Death to My Hometown (joined by Tom Morello) My City of Ruins Spirit In The Night Trapped (cover of Jimmy Cliff) Jack of All Trades (joined by Tom Morello) Atlantic City (joined by Eddie Vedder) Lonesome Day I'm Goin' Down Darlington County Shackled and Drawn Waiting on a Sunny Day None But the Brave Ghost of Tom Joad (joined by Tom Morello) Badlands Land of Hope and Dreams
Encore: We Are Alive Thunder Road Born to Run Dancing in the Dark Jungleland Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (joined by Eddie Vedder & Tom Morello) Twist and Shout (cover of Isley Brothers) (joined by Eddie Vedder & Tom Morello)