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Bruce Springsteen Delivers a Celebration of Life and Rock and Roll At Euro Tour Opener

Wednesday, 08 May 2024 Written by Jon Stickler

Photo: Rob DeMartin

Fancy mulling over the passing of time, grief, and death for three hours or so? Normally, probably not. But if you’re spending a Sunday night with Bruce Springsteen at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium? Hell yes.

Rolling up for his latest European tour, the Boss is in fine fettle following a health scare that prompted thoughts he wasn’t invincible after all. Forced to postpone dates last September due to peptic ulcers — or a “motherfucker of a bellyache” as he put it — Springsteen, who turns 75 this year, was fearful he might never sing again. 

After a six month timeout his return to the stage brings with it a question: might this be the last time we see him rip it up with the E-Street Band? On this evidence, that seems unlikely. The show clocks in at a mammoth 29 songs, with its musings on mortality reborn as something joyous in songs such as the opener So Young And In Love, a 1974 curio that hasn’t seen action since 2013, coincidentally the last time Springsteen was in the city.

Greeting it, the audience’s resounding cheers are almost loud enough to compete with a thunderously upbeat 17-piece configuration of the E-Street Band. Other tour debuts are given to Better Days, from 1992’s ‘Lucky Town’, and If I Was The Priest, another early ‘70s composition that was eventually given a modern sheen and released on 2020’s ‘Letter To You’. Later on, there’s a ruminative run through the true story of The River, the title track from the 1980 record of the same name.

The first section of the show offers up a mix of contemporary selections, including the brooding Lonesome Day, from 2002’s ‘The Rising’, and 2020’s Ghosts, a haunting message to departed bandmates, alongside ‘70s and ‘80s favourites such as No Surrender and Prove It All Night. The latter finds Springsteen leaning on Jake Clemons’ shoulder in a touching nod to the pose he struck with the saxophonist’s uncle Clarence for the ‘Born to Run’ cover art.

Greeting and high-fiving fans at the barrier with the stamina of a man in the prime of his life, a tireless Springsteen runs through Darlington County before some thrilling harmonica solos during The Promised Land. Before one song ends, his cry of “one, two, three, four” summons the next without pausing for breath. Setlist regulars Spirit In The Night, from his 1973 debut, and Hungry Heart follow before a grandstanding rendition of My City Of Ruins.

Led by Roy Bittan’s keys and solos from Clemons, the soulful Nightshift brings the E-Street Choir and E-Street Horns together for a poignant cover of the Commodores hit, heard on Springsteen’s most recent album ‘Only The Strong Survive’. He wistfully croons about soul greats Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson, joined on the ramp by backing singer Curtis King, offering a momentary breather.

The wildly talented Nils Lofgren provides one of the evening’s most memorable moments, shredding on the anthemic and uplifting Because The Night, spinning in circles while showing off his flashy genius on the fretboard. The last quarter kicks on from here, with the mass sing-along for Badlands providing a moment most artists would reserve as a set-closing salvo. Springsteen instead uses it as a launch pad for the show’s final cavalcade of back-to-back classics.

With the house lights on, Thunder Road, Born In The USA, Born To Run, Dancing In The Dark — some of the best rock songs of all time — are delivered in typically exhilarating, breathless fashion. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, complete with images of the late Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici displayed on the big screen, precede a heartfelt and meaningful acoustic finale of I’ll See You in My Dreams. 

Like the earlier Last Man Standing — administered solo as a tribute to George Theiss, Springsteen’s bandmate from his teenage rock and roll band The Castiles — the idea of saying goodbye looms large in each chord that rings out. Not yet, Boss. Not yet.

Bruce Springsteen Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun May 05 2024 - CARDIFF Principality Stadium
Thu May 09 2024 - BELFAST Boucher Playing Fields
Sun May 12 2024 - KILKENNY Nowlan Park
Thu May 16 2024 - CORK Pairc Ui Chaoimh
Sun May 19 2024 - DUBLIN Croke Park
Wed May 22 2024 - SUNDERLAND Stadium Of Light

Tue May 28 2024 - PRAGUE Airport Letnany (Czech Republic)
Sat June 01 2024 - MILAN SAN SIRO STADIUM (Italy)
Mon June 03 2024 - MILAN SAN SIRO STADIUM (Italy)
Wed June 12 2024 - MADRID Civitas Metropolitano (Spain)
Fri June 14 2024 - MADRID Civitas Metropolitano (Spain)
Mon June 17 2024 - MADRID Civitas Metropolitano (Spain)
Thu June 20 2024 - BARCELONA Estadi Olimpic (Spain)
Sat June 22 2024 - BARCELONA Estadi Olimpic (Spain)
Thu June 27 2024 - NIJMEGEN Goffertpark (Netherlands)
Sat June 29 2024 - NIJMEGEN Goffertpark (Netherlands)
Tue July 02 2024 - WERCHTER Werchter Park (Belgium)
Fri July 05 2024 - HANNOVER Heinz Von Heiden Arena (Germany)
Tue July 09 2024 - ODENSE Dyrskuepladsen (Denmark)
Fri July 12 2024 - HELSINKI Olympic Stadium (Finland)
Mon July 15 2024 - STOCKHOLM Friends Arena (Sweden)
Thu July 18 2024 - STOCKHOLM Friends Arena (Sweden)
Sun July 21 2024 - BERGEN Dokken (Norway)

Thu July 25 2024 - LONDON Wembley Stadium
Sat July 27 2024 - LONDON Wembley Stadium

Thu August 15 2024 - PITTSBURGH Pennsylvania - PPG Paints Arena (USA)
Sun August 18 2024 - PITTSBURGH Pennsylvania - PPG Paints Arena (USA)
Wed August 21 2024 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Citizens Bank Park (USA)
Fri August 23 2024 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Citizens Bank Park (USA)
Sat September 07 2024 - WASHINGTON District of Columbia - Nationals Park (USA)
Fri September 13 2024 - BALTIMORE Maryland - Oriole Park At Camden Yards (USA)
Sun September 15 2024 - ASBURY PARK New Jersey - North Beach (USA)
Thu October 31 2024 - MONTREAL Quebec - Bell Centre (Canada)
Sun November 03 2024 - TORONTO Ontario - Scotiabank Arena (Canada)
Wed November 06 2024 - TORONTO Ontario - Scotiabank Arena (Canada)
Sat November 09 2024 - OTTAWA Ontario - Canadian Tire Centre (Canada)
Wed November 13 2024 - WINNIPEG Manitoba - Canada Life Centre (formerly Bell MTS Place) (Canada)
Sat November 16 2024 - CALGARY Alberta - Scotiabank Saddledome (Canada)
Tue November 19 2024 - EDMONTON Alberta - Rogers Place (Canada)
Fri November 22 2024 - VANCOUVER British Columbia - Rogers Arena (Canada)

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