From a fierce opening number that kicked off with a three-minute-long guitar solo to a final encore of “Twist and Shout” featuring guest vocals from Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Bruce Springsteen’s concert Friday night (Sept. 7) at Wrigley Field in Chicago was a remarkable display of showmanship, stage presence, and superb musicianship from the Boss and a revamped E Street Band that included Jake Clemons standing in for his late uncle Clarence on saxophone.
Over the course of 28 songs covering a staggering three hours and 25 minutes, Springsteen delivered quite simply one of the greatest concerts Wrigley has ever witnessed, deftly mixing hits with newer material and playing to the crowd throughout the set.
Appropriately, Bruce and his band opened with “Prove It All Night,” which they proceeded to do as they rocked until nearly midnight. “Hungry Heart” was an early highlight, with fans eagerly providing the hook while Springsteen went as deep into the audience as the barricades would allow.
Drummer Max Weinberg shined on “We Take Care Of Our Own,” Springsteen’s latest piece of social commentary, which was a fitting early-set selection just one night after it was heard at the Democratic National Convention.
Songs blended from one into the next with no breaks. It was a full 70 minutes into the concert before the music actually stopped between songs for a brief pause. “My City of Ruins” shifted the spotlight to Jake and the rest of the brass section, as well as the backup singers who gave the song a gospel feeling.
Vedder strode on stage to duet with Bruce on “Atlantic City,” followed by an excellent “Lonesome Day” and a version of “I’m Goin’ Down” with a stripped-down intro.
Springsteen won points from fans for inviting an adorable small girl on stage to help sing “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day.” “With all these kids out here, I think I’m starting to steal Justin Bieber’s audience,” he later joked.
Morello came out for “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and traded solos with Springsteen until the former Rage guitarist ended the tune with a mind-blowing solo that incorporated the scratching sounds that were a signature of Rage songs.
The encore began with “We Are Alive,” followed by “Thunder Road.” When all the lights in the stadium came on for “Born to Run,” it seemed as though Bruce was ready to call it a night. But remarkably, he still had another half hour of music left in him.
Next came “Dancing in the Dark,” during which Springsteen obliged a man who had a sign reading, “Please dance with my wife!” He plucked her out of the crowd, just as he did Courteney Cox in the classic music video.
“Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” provided the most touching moment of the evening. When Bruce sang the line about the “Big Man,” the music stopped abruptly and the entire band turned to the video screen, which displayed a minute-long montage of video images from Clarence Clemons’ career.
Finally, Springsteen and company brought back Morello and Vedder for a spirited cover of “Twist and Shout” to “send you home dancing,” as Bruce said.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform at Wrigley again tonight (Sept. 8). They’ll have their work cut out for them when it comes to trying to top last night’s stellar performance.
Check out the complete set list for the Friday night Wrigley Field concert below.
Bruce Springsteen Set List Wrigley Field Sept. 7, 2012
1. Prove It All Night
2. My Love Will Not Let You Down
3. Out in the Street
4. Hungry Heart
5. We Take Care of Our Own
6. Wrecking Ball
7. Death to My Hometown
8. My City of Ruins
9. Spirit in the Night
11. Jack of All Trades
12. Atlantic City
13. Lonesome Day
14. I’m Goin’ Down
15. Darlington County
16. Shackled and Drawn
17. Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
18. None But the Brave
19. The Ghost of Tom Joad
21. Land of Hope and Dreams
22. We Are Alive
23. Thunder Road
24. Born to Run
25. Dancing in the Dark
27. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
28. Twist And Shout