I’ve seen a lot of bands in a lot of different places, from dingy pub backrooms to see bands that no-one has ever heard of, to stadiums to see international megastars play in front of 80,000 pe
I’ve seen a lot of bands in a lot of different places, from dingy pub backrooms to see bands that no-one has ever heard of, to stadiums to see international megastars play in front of 80,000 people.
With such variety and breadth of scale, it is a difficult question when we actually ask: who is the best live act in the world?
For a long time I didn’t think I could give an answer. But that was until I saw the undisputed king of the live show, those big-band rockers from New Jersey, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band.
Everything about Springsteen’s performances ticks all the boxes, he is the consummate professional who still has that raw connection with the crowd and love for what he does.
As he hits the stage without fail The Boss is beaming from ear to ear and that soon catches on as you are ensnared and taken on a rollercoaster ride through The E-Street Band’s forty year-spanning arsenal.
You are led through bombastic barnstormers such as Tenth Avenue Freeze Out and Glory Days, just to then have the tone flip and have your heart rended by the slow and sombre numbers such as Lost In The Flood and The River.
Springsteen believes and feels every word that passes his lips and you believe and feel along with him.
In a strange kind of duality, while Springsteen has the aura of a rock-god, he also carries himself as a friend who you want to just go out and have a drink with. He has a constant willingness to get in with the fans, talk to them, dance with them, and take requests.
The Boss has both a charisma and intensity that is unmatched and he transcends simply being a front-man, he is a gospel preacher and we are his congregation.
The E-Street Shuffle
But all this electrifying and mesmerizing magnetism alone would be worthless if the music couldn’t back it up, and needless to say it most certainly does.
The E-Street Band’s four decades of experience shines through as their show is as tight as tight can be. Never is a note out of place and the songs seamlessly transitioning between track to track interspersed with plenty of E-Street jamming and impov.
I guess this is to be expected from such veterans, but what makes it even more astonishing is that the E-Street Band for the most part runs without a set-list. Whatever tracks they play on a particular night will probably be the first and last time that particular set is heard.
Fans bring signs of what tracks they want to hear, The Boss grabs a selection from the crowd and the E-Street band starts swinging.
When I first saw Bruce I went in fairly indifferent. I knew the hits like Born in the USA and Dancing in the Dark, but I was just sort of there because it was the Bruce Springsteen. But by the time the show had ended I was not only sold, I was bought and paid for.
I honestly cannot do justice to how incredible an evening with Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band can be. Each time I have seen him, Springsteen manages to do something special, he manages to make a show of performed in front of tens of thousands peoples feel as intimate as a little gig played in front of a handful of fans in some backroom bar.
Even at the tender age of 64 there seems to be no stopping the boss. There is no one else quite like him, and I doubt there ever will be.
Born to run, and undoubtedly the best live act in the world.