THERE is a famous story about why Bruce Springsteen chose to make 2002’s classic post-9/11 album The Rising. Someone shouted out of the window of their car at him on the street in New Jersey after the attacks on the Twin Towers: “We need you now.”
The man who wrote “worrying about your little world falling apart” — the line from Dancing In The Dark which perhaps best sums up our dark zeitgeist — held the crowd under his spell for well over two hours.
With his star-studded eight piece band (Steven Van Zandt on guitar, aka Silvio from The Sopranos, Clarence Clemons on saxophone and Nils Lofgren on guitar), the Boss showed himself to be a noble upholder of various grand musical traditions with a direct connection to the spirit of Johnny Cash and Woody Guthrie, even Joe Strummer.
Lacking neither passion nor conviction, he sang his heart out. Songs such as The Rising, Lonesome Day and Born To Run were delivered from that beating organ in his chest. They are sad songs but they did not surrender to despair, or the rain which lashed from the heavens.
America‘s blue-collar Shakespeare walked onstage at 7.50pm in black jeans, black denim shirt and brown boots. “We’re so glad to be here on this beautiful Irish evening,” he announced with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.
The most virile 59-year-old on Earth, was running, soloing, hollering, and sweating the good sweat. Like the Rolling Stones in denim, Springsteen and the E Street Band are the firebrand masters of energising an audience. And when Bruce unleashed the chords on his guitar for the show’s opener of Badlands, and then Cover Me, the audience was immediately up on its feet and bopping, looking for a salvation of sorts from the man in the working man’s jeans and boots.
Like Bono and Dylan, Bruce is a true exponent of the gig-as-religious-event.
“I grew up Catholic and I suppose I go back to that for so much imagery in my music over the years,” he told Spin magazine in 2007.
“I was interested in the spiritual battleground — it’s what fascinates me. Like, hey, where is the place you lose your soul, and how do I get there without falling in?”
Forty thousand people, courtesy of Springsteen, did their best to lose their souls outdoors in the RDS.
For over two hours last night they were able to stop worrying about their little world falling apart.
Bruce Springsteen plays the RDS again tonight says independent