Springsteen celebrates his 53rd birthday with 19,000 friends
By Bryan Redington, Music Critic
The sky was falling
and streaked with blood.
I heard you calling me
then you disappeared into the dust.
Up the stairs, into the fire …
May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love bring us love …
Into The Fire
Faith and hope were the themes of the Bruce Springsteen concert on Wednesday, September 25th at the United Center in Chicago, as more than 19,000 people witnessed Bruce and his 9-member E Street Band cover a rainbow of emotions.
The two-hour and 35-minute concert featured 11 songs from his latest CD The Rising, and 12 songs from past releases. Springsteen, who turned 53 on Monday, is still rocking after all those birthdays, even climbing atop a piano like it was 1975 again.
The majority of songs from The Rising have a World Trade Center connection to them. Who better than Springsteen to wade into the wreckage and pain of September 11th and deliver a graceful and fitting tribute to the heroes and the loved ones who were left behind?
The Rising is all about rising above the hatred and the need for retaliation; and instead, yearning for a human connection. Springsteens live shows are all about connecting with his fans emotionally and spiritually. Every time the word faith is sung in a Springsteen song, you can see hands throughout the crowd reaching up in unison.
Cant see nothing in front of me
Cant see nothing coming up from behind…
On my back a sixty pound stone
On my shoulder a half mile of line
Come on up for The Rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine…
Springsteen made a few political comments: Our civil liberties are threatened during this time of crisis and fear, so wed better be vigilant. He later stated, Any decision on going to war should be preceded by a full debate because thats the right and privilege of all of us born in the USA, and he followed that statement with Born In The USA. He encouraged everyone to support a local food pantry because, Theyre on the front lines doing something about what Im up here singing about.
Chicago native Eddie Vetter of Pearl Jam joined Bruce and shared the singing on My Hometown during the bands first encore. Although clearly nervous, and forgetting some lines, Eddie pulled it together and finished the song nicely, singing some harmonies with Bruce.
I was one of the 300 fortunate fans to be in The Pit, a chair-less, sectioned-off area right in front of the stage (all of the main floor seats were General Admission, with the first 300 in line admitted to The Pit). This was my sixth Springsteen concert, and even at the age of 53, Bruce put his heart and soul into every song. And he aptly ended his show saying Chicago, Chicago…. My kind of town.
A Springsteen concert rates as a must-see for any rock fan, and The Rising rates as my only Five Star CD this far in 2002.