It’s hard to say why, but I felt that Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band turned it up a notch at the second of their three shows at MetLife Stadium, Sept. 1. The band seemed a little looser, there were some great surprises in the setlist, and the music just gelled a little more for me. Aug. 30 was very good, but I felt Sept. 1 was better, and I can’t wait for Sept. 3.
“A little end-of-summer song for ya,” said Springsteen while introducing “Spriit in the Night” (see video below), the one song from this show that hadn’t previously been played on the band’s current tour. “Seven Nights to Rock” (see video below) was a welcome, additional shot of raw rock in the encores. The always-powerful “Darkness on the Edge of Town” (see video below) also was added to the setlist, along with “The E Street Shuffle,” which gave dynamic percussionist Anthony Almonte a moment in the spotlight, in an instrumental-duel interlude also featuring stalwart drummer Max Weinberg.
Like the Aug. 30 show, this one lasted nearly three hours, and included 28 songs. Songs played on Aug. 30 but not on Sept. 1 were “Out in the Street,” “Sherry Darling,” “Johnny 99” and “Atlantic City.”
Springsteen repeated the “Lonesome Day”/”Night”/”No Surrender” opening sequence from Night 1, which, I think, works really well: Three jolts of energy in a row, with two of them, “Lonesome Day” and “Night,” being songs that have not been played a lot on the tour, previously. Some Springsteen fans have been disappointed with the similarities in the setlist on the tour, but with his last few shows, Springsteen has been mixing things up a bit more, giving hardcore fans a little more variety while also keeping the general structure that he wants each show to have.
Like every show on this tour, a major theme was mortality, and the passing of time, and the importance of seizing the day while we’re all still here. I covered that in my Night 1 review — which can be read here — so I won’t go into that again, except to say that Springsteen added a funny aside in his “Last Man Standing” speech, when he was talking about his first, pre-Castiles band. “I got thrown out of my first band — that shows you what the fuck they know.”
One more thought: I had a much better seat for Night 1 than for Night 2 but, paradoxically, enjoyed Night 2 more. Maybe it was just a better show, maybe it was a weather (it got pretty cool on Sept. 1, which felt refreshing), or maybe the distance between me and the stage actually helped. I could still hear everything very well — the sound was as good as stadium sound gets. And while it’s great to sit close and be able to see everything clearly … sitting further away, you get more of a sense of the enormity of the event — tens of thousands of people, having a great time — and the music hits you a little differently. When you can see every band member clearly, you tend to focus on individual players and what they’re doing; sitting further back, it’s more like a big ball of sound — which, when you’re dealing with familiar, beloved songs like these, can be a good thing.
It helped that since I had already seen the show from a better vantage point on Night 1, it wasn’t frustrating that I couldn’t see everything: I could kind of replay the Night 1 movie in my mind. And I’m quite happy that my Night 3 seat will be better than Night 2. But while I was a little bummed out, before the music began, to be sitting so far away, I ended up glad that I was able to see the show from a different perspective.
For tickets to the Sept. 3 show, visit ticketmaster.com.
Here is the Sept. 1 setlist (songs in bold were not played on Aug. 30), with some videos below it.
“Prove It All Night”
“Darkness on the Edge of Town”
“Letter to You”
“The Promised Land”
“Spirit in the Night”
“The E Street Shuffle”
“Last Man Standing”
“Because the Night”
“She’s the One”
“Born to Run”
“Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”
“Seven Nights to Rock”
“Dancing in the Dark”
“Tenth Avenue Freeze-out”
“I’ll See You in My Dreams”
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