Bruce Springsteen gave fans something to gush about last night, according to the accounts we’ve seen so far.
His show with the full E Street Band at the Count Basie Theatre included complete, start-to-finish renderings of two LPs from the mid-1970s: ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town‘ and (after an intermission) ‘Born to Run.’
Never before in concert had the band played even one album straight through, according to the fanzine Backstreets. In one of several rapturous reviews published this morning, Backstreets invoked a six-night run at the Red Bank venue in 1976 (then known as the Monmouth Arts Center):
An E Street Band theater show finding them packed tighter than ever on a small stage like this, with Nils, Patti, and Soozie all added to the line-up since the theater days would have been exceptional enough, but the four Perfect Album Sides of the setlist put this one over the top.
The show also included “Rosalita,” “Kitty’s Back,” “Raise Your Hand,” “So Young and In Love” and four encores.
From music writer Kelly-Jane Cotter’s piece in the Asbury Park Press:
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band so thoroughly rocked Count Basie Theatre Wednesday night that it seemed as if the noble old venue might crumble.
From the Star-Ledger‘s music writer Jay Lustig:
Even without the unique setlist, the show would have ranked among the most memorable Springsteen shows of the decade. This was the first full-length Springsteen/E Street theater concert since 1980.
According to news accounts, the benefit for the restoration of the theater itself raised $3 million. Tickets were priced from $500 to $15,000. Among those in attendance were Gov. Jon Corzine, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams and 37 wounded veterans from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. who “received a standing ovation almost as lengthy as the one given the band,” Cotter reported.
Star-Ledger blogger (and unmitigated Bruceophile) Stan Goldstein was agog:
Wednesday night’s benefit show for the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, was one of those real special Bruce Springsteen performances, one that will go down in the history books as a great, great show.
Here’s the full setlist, according to Goldstein, which some of his commentary:
2. Adam Raised A Cain
3. Something In The Night
4. Candy’s Room
5. Racing In The Street
6. The Promised Land
8. Streets Of Fire
9. Prove It All Night
10. Darkness On The Edge Of Town
They took a 15-minute break and came back to play the “Born To Run” album.
Bruce talked about how it took him six months to write and record the song “Born To Run” and another six months to finish the rest of the album. He said it was make or break time for the band, as they were in danger of being dropped from Columbia Records.
11. Thunder Road
12. Tenth Ave Freezeout
They brought out a four-pience horn section for the song. Mark Pender, La Bamba, Jerry Vivino and Ed Manion played.
Bruce jumped into the crowd during the song. He jumped off the front of the stage in front of Little Steven, then walked over, past N.J. Gov. Jon Corzine, to the left side and jumped up on seats. As the crowd swarmed him, they lifted him up a bit. It was like a 1976 show again!
15. Born To Run
16. She’s The One
17. Meeting Across The River
Beautiful trumpet on this song by Mark Pender.
19. So Young And In Love
Bruce had a lot of fun in this. He told the band to remind him that there was an instrumental part in there some where.
20 Kitty’s Back
All the horn players did solos.
21. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
22. Raise Your Hand
Show ended at 11:14 p.m.
Bruce also jumped up on Roy Bittan’s piano several times and did some dancing up there.
Bruce didn’t talk between songs, he just right into one song after another.
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine was sitting in the front row, just off center. He left during the start of the encores.
Great show, great night. One of my top Bruce Springsteen shows of all time.
To see Bruce in a 1,500-seat theater at this stage of his career is phenomenal.
A very special night.