Springsteen celebrates his 53rd birthday with 19,000 friends

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 …

—Bruce Springsteen

“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. Springsteen’s 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.

Can’t see nothing in front of me

Can’t 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…

—Bruce Springsteen

The Rising

Springsteen made a few political comments: “Our civil liberties are threatened during this time of crisis and fear, so we’d better be vigilant.” He later stated, “Any decision on going to war should be preceded by a full debate because that’s 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, “They’re on the front lines doing something about what I’m up here singing about.”

Chicago native Eddie Vetter of Pearl Jam joined Bruce and shared the singing on “My Hometown” during the band’s 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.

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