The Boss takes on Cardiff

I ummed and ahhhed a lot before grabbing a ticket for Springsteen’s gig in the Millennium Stadium on Tuesday. I’m a big fan (although I feel less than committed next to these guys), but the near 65 quid entry fee would usually get me into about 7 gigs.

But I did buy a ticket. Partly because I’ve never seen a Stadium gig before, and partly because it’s THE BOSS! Bugger me it was worth it.

I was a bit sceptical about how a band could play for over 3 hours without losing momentum. But they did. I think partly it’s down to the performance (he collected banners to display, he immersed himself in the crowd), but it’s also down to his varied back catalogue. He kicked off the set with a bit of gospel with This Little Light of Mine, went into the very 80s sounding Cynthia, and the set also included the Irish Folk influenced Death to my Hometown and the pomp of Born to Run. He finished with a lovely stripped back acoustic version of Thunder Road, a lovely nod to his Nebraska and Ghost of Tom Joad albums.

Whilst I was watching the gig a few parallel bands sprang to mind – the Foo Fighters have become a stadium band these days, and whilst they’ve done their utmost to smooth every potential edge from their music, Bruce and the E-Street band seem to want to cram as many different things as possible into theirs. And whilst the Rolling Stones are the biggest live band in the world, no-one seems to love their new stuff the way the crowd tonight loved the Boss’s (We Take Care of Our Own and Wrecking Ball had as big a cheer as Bruce’s older material).

I first checked out the Boss’ stuff after reading Stage Fighters by Paul Stenning, in which both Timmy C and Tom Morello talk about their love for the big man. At first it felt a bit odd that members of Rage would be into a singer that I considered to be a bit middle of the road, but when I sat down and listened to the lyrics it all made sense (though plainly not to everyone, as Reagan misappropriated Born in the USA pretty badly). Tonight helped me further along that path – yes, it’s music for the masses and does occasionally veer towards being MOR, but the whole band clearly loved playing live, an impression I didn’t get when I saw both Arcade Fire and Bloc Party play this small city of ours.

What a gig!

PS Springsteen likes burgers – potentially best blog ever!

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About Dyfrig Williams

Music Bendigedig is a blog about the gigs I (Dyfrig Williams) get to go and see. I’m based in Cardiff, so most of the gigs I go to are here, with a few further afield. I don’t aim to be a critic – this is a music fan’s blog, written from that perspective.
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2 Responses to The Boss takes on Cardiff

  1. Jimmy 99 says:

    Nice write-up. Glad you enjoyed it. How could you not, though, I suppose. I love the fact that Tom Morello plays in the E Street Band when required – it adds kudos if the band, or Springsteen, needed it. Thanks for the tip about Stage Fighters. As for the gig on Tuesday, it wasn’t really a stadium gig but a very big arena show due to the shut roof and curtain cutting the place in half, so you’ve still not been to one! But it was better and more intimate – if a room of 30,000 people can be called intimate – as a result. Having seen him and the E Street Band five times now, each performance has been quite different. What they’ve had in common is the energy and joy – in what other gig have you been to where everyone’s smiling and dancing, and when I say everyone, I mean 16-year-olds dancing next to 70-year-olds. Whereas the Wrecking Ball tour in summer 2012 contained more anger, and more older hits, in Cardiff this week there was more stuff from The Rising, which is the heartland rock end of his musical spectrum that I’m not (as a Rage Against Machine fan) not my favourite aspect of his back catalogue. But it’s always a welcome experience to have music you’ve not previously ‘got’ performed live to have its brilliance revealed or explained to you in person. (A case in point is The River album, which we saw played in full at the end of 2009. I’d not been a fan of much of it till then.) And it started out rocking and hard after the initial cover, what with Adam Raised A Cain, Roulette, and the mighty Prove It All Night – so it was full-throttled. Comparing the setlists on this end of the tour (we got a world premier in TV Movie) and considering he played 33 songs (and the missus and I got into the pit for the first time), and the party-like atmosphere, and the fact the bad seemed to be so, so into it, I’d have said you’re unlikely to see a better rock n roll gig, let alone Springsteen gig.

    • Couldn’t agree more on the last point! He’s got the balance perfectly between a tight performance and making you feel like you’re watching a one-off gig. I’ve never seen anyone compare to that!

      I agree about the stadium gig aspect too – when I heard they didn’t have any tickets I assumed we were talking ridiculously full whole stadium, as opposed to the third that it was. Hope that wasn’t down to ticket sales, but you’re right, it did make it more intimate. The view was great where we were standing.

      Cheers for the comments around the Rising too – I haven’t checked out that album yet so I might get on the case with that.

      Good work on getting in the pit – you were 1 of the more committed people then – good skills!

      Cheers for taking the time to comment – you’ve given me loads of stuff to look out for!

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