A review by two Ulster Unionist councillors of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Madison Square Garden, New York, Wednesday January 27:
Last night we found ourselves sitting a few feet from Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City.
Together we witnessed not so much rock ‘n’ roll future but rather rock ‘n’ roll perfected as Bruce Springsteen brought his unique blend of rock, country and soul to the legendary Madison Square Garden.
Springsteen was not promoting a new album nor was he hawking some tired old greatest hits show.
This tour features entire performances of his 1980 double album, The River. No other rock artist would be brave enough to conceive of such an enterprise – let alone be capable of pulling it off.
But last night Bruce Springsteen proved to 25,000 fans that he is indeed The Boss.
This was no tame recital of a 35 year old album. Instead it was a full throttle evocation of the transforming power of rock ’n’ roll.
The River, released when Springsteen was at his creative zenith, provides all that one could hope for from a Springtseen concert. The album includes classic hits like Hungry Heart and The River, crowd pleasing stompers like Ramrod and a slew of concert rarities like Stolen Car.
It helps that the album itself was so well paced providing the peaks and valleys of a typical Springsteen show. As he told Backstreets.com, “The River was really created and sequenced to give listeners something like the experience of an E Street Band concert.”
This tour in a sense completes the circle, an album that was conceived as a way of capturing the essence of a live show is now itself being performed live.
Tying this all together was Springsteen’s supreme stage craft. The band roars into a sequence of tracks, absent of any pause, leaving the audience literally breathless.
The 66-year-old Springsteen draws energy from the experience and the audience reaction. This iconic figure is so at one with the crowd, so comfortable with their fevered exuberance that he will throw himself backwards into their midst to be carried aloft by a thousand raised hands.
At other points he breaks up the performance with his trademark stories and reflections on the songs he has written.
As ever these interludes are both thought provoking and highly engaging. Some lucky punters were brought into the stage to dance with The Boss during Dancing In The Dark.
While the album dominated the show it did not overwhelm it. There were many other classic songs from Born To Run to Wrecking Ball that spanned Springsteen’s recording career.
So despite the cancelled flights, the lost baggage, the snow, a cancelled gig on Sunday night and queuing for Wednesday night tickets – it was the best three hours we could ever hope for in New York City.
• Graham Craig (@CllrGCraig) is an Ulster Unionist councillor in Belfast and Richard Holmes is an Ulster Unionist councillor in Causeway, Coast and Glens