Last night, June 5th. A beautiful and only slightly chilly Monday night at the legendary Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.
Performing with the 17-member Seeger Sessions Band before a sold-out crowd, Bruce Springsteen did what I've seen him do countless times since the early 1980s. He lit a sonic fire, and the crowd responded. Anyone (myself included) who has come to believe folk music is largely about a solo artist or few artists playing a couple of acoustic instruments such as guitars and mandolins was likely shocked at the power of the folk-estra witnessed last night. Stretching folk and Americana in ways hardly imagined, vocal harmonies, sing-alongs with the audience, tinges of gospel, Dixie jazz, bluegrass and Delta blues and more were mixed in ways authentic and natural.
Whether singing American standards, or his own classics, Springsteen was truly a man on a mission. There was an anti-war thread to his between-song speak, but the music bounced artfully back and forth between strong spiritual-styled material ("O Mary Don't You Weep," "We Shall Overcome") and the upbeat, celebrative songs that got most concertgoers to their feet ("My Oklahoma Home," the night-ending "When the Saints Go Marching In"). The players in his band were amazing, truly. The horn section was a thrill and there was an energy equal, while different from his beloved E Street Band.
This was a show that ranks with the other seminal tours where I caught the Boss, ranking from the River tour to Born in the U.S.A. and the powerful Rising dates, post 9/11.
Here (as posted today in the Orange County Register) was his set list:
O Mary Don't You Weep
Old Dan Tucker
Eyes on the Prize
My Oklahoma Home
If I Should Fall Behind
How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?
We Shall Overcome
Open All Night
Pay Me My Money Down
Bring Them Home
You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
When the Saints Go Marching In