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Published on Apr 27, 2012
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band /April 26 / Sports Arena / Los Angeles, CA
These days, LA's venerable Sports Arena is rarely dusted off for much of anything, but it remains the only place Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will play in the market, adding to legacy of shows that began in 1980. With no luxury boxes to speak of (a mile away, the Staples Center has 'em triple stacked), it feels positively intimate compared to most modern arenas. Thursday night marked stop No. 2 in the mere troika of West Coast shows on this leg and featured a couple of strong tour debuts, one poignant, one playful. Again walking out to strains of "The Magnificent Seven," the super-sized E Street Band kicked off with "Badlands," and the LA crowd came to play, with fist-pumps ringing the arena from the get go.
The crowd hailed "We Take Care of Our Own" and cheered for the Giants (to be fair, LA has no NFL franchise) in "Wrecking Ball" before the return of "The Ties That Bind," played with real pace and passion. Next came the first of four appearances by a guest who at this point can't be called surprising, guitarist Tom Morello, who soloed on "Death to My Hometown" and two songs later on "Jack of All Trades." When he wasn't on stage, Morello was sitting with family (including his charming mother and young son), directly stage left, close to the lip of the stage, singing along to nearly every song. The first big surprise of the night followed "Trades," as Bruce walked around to the band and called for "Something in the Night." The tour debut was a tour de force, with Bruce deeply absorbed in his performance and Max Weinberg forcefully striking the song's many drum fills. Nary a second passed before the Mighty One went straight into a storming "Candy's Room" and a splendid three-pack was completed as Springsteen called for "She's the One." Jake Clemons, who was warmly embraced by the crowd with every saxophone solo, seemed to take his part here to an even higher level and gave a deserved look of triumph when he finished. "Easy Money," acted out by Mr. and Mrs. on the front, center stage. Then came "Waitin' for a Sunny Day," "Promised Land" and the "Apollo Medley" before the proper tour debut of "The Ghost of Tom Joad." Morello shared vocals with Bruce on it, taking the second verse and sharing the last, and as great as his playing is on the Wrecking Ball material, he just wails on "Joad." Watching the energy flow through his body movements is almost as mesmerizing as his actual playing. He was loving every minute of it. Bruce soloed hard here, too, and "Joad" was easily one of the highlights of the night. From there, the main set wound down, wrapping with "Land of Hope and Dreams," as "Thunder Road" took a night off. Anchored by the elegiac "Rocky Ground," the encore brought with it one big surprise, the first ever full E Street Band performance of The Rivieras' 1964 hit "California Sun." It had been previously performed inside the "Detroit Medley" at the same venue back on October 26, 1984, but this was the whole damn song, complete with a snippet of the Ventures' "Wipe Out" near the end. With its made-for-the-moment chorus of "Yeah, we're out here having fun / in the warm California sun." Morello returned to close the night on "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out." - from Backstreets.com Setlist: Badlands We Take Care of Our Own Wrecking Ball The Ties That Bind Death to My Hometown (with Tom Morello) My City of Ruins The E Street Shuffle Jack of All Trades (with Tom Morello) Something in the Night Candy's Room She's the One Easy Money Waitin' on a Sunny Day The Promised Land Apollo Medley The Ghost of Tom Joad (with Tom Morello) The Rising Lonesome Day We Are Alive Land of Hope and Dreams * * * Rocky Ground (with Michelle Moore) California Sun Born to Run Dancing in the Dark Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (with Tom Morello)