International sensation Bruce Springsteen has joined the 2023 BST Hyde Park line-up, headlining on July 6 with support from Frank Turner and The Chicks. Bringing his style, effortless cool and endless energy, he performed songs from his earlier days and his impressive collection of recent releases.
At 7pm on a sunny Thursday night in Hyde Park, the E Street Band were the first to take the stage, considering their place before being joined by their boss, Bruce Springsteen. Both received a warm welcome from the cheering crowd.
Dressed in his trademark blue jeans and black roll-sleeve shirt, Springsteen hit the Telecaster to kick off the show and hit ‘No Surrender’, and from the first note it was clear that Springsteen and the E Street Band were here to play and play the vocals. The look of the show was amazing from start to finish.
Along with the follow-up songs, he is dropping a couple of his self-titled song and ‘Ghosts’ from his 2020 album ‘Letter to You’.
After a few tracks, most artists would stop for a drink of water or a breather, but Springsteen took a single breath as he launched into song after song before the previous song’s crash cymbal and ‘one, two, three, the introduction of the next four.
In his first foray into ‘Promised Land’ he stepped off the stage and into the audience. Tossing his guitar into his stage hands, he stands up close to the front row. His youth was like an enthusiastic audience singing every verse to him and the mutual positivity between the artist and the audience never faltered throughout the set. “Out In The Street” is another number that has fans in their heads as Springsteen does some call and response.
‘Working on the Highway’ makes a difference with the singer armed with his acoustic guitar front and center, away from the band. During his 28-song set, he managed to work every corner of the Hyde Park stage. Joining him front and center during a cover of The Commodores’ ‘Night Shift’ was the E Street Choir with Curtis King taking the lead on some soulful vocals. The band’s brass section shined during this cover as each member got their own lead time. As long as Springsteen is the star of the show, the E Street Band is no surprise. Their stage presence, musicianship and entertainment value complimented the evening perfectly.
Springsteen worked the audience into a frenzy with ‘Mary’s Place’ teasing crescendos and diminuendos, while ‘Your Hometown’ held back and then another harmonica was given on 1980’s hit ‘The River’.
‘Last Man Standing’ was a particular highlight of the set. A 60,000-strong crowd listened intently to Springsteen’s story of losing his childhood friend, George Tess. Bruce of The Castiles, the last remaining member of his original high school band. He emphasized what he learned from the death of his friends, which is to seize the moment, take each day forward and enjoy it. His dedication to Tessie was emotional and a few tears were shed in the audience.
The instantly recognizable ‘Badlands’ and ‘Thunder Road’ closed the first part of the set. Two hours worth of music flew by without the E Street Band even breaking a sweat, but what followed would have found the most casual Springsteen fan in the audience shaking and shaking.
‘Born in the USA’ was the first to kick off the longest encore with a stellar drum solo by Max Weinberg, followed by ‘Born to Run’ and ‘Bobby Jean’. The chemistry between Springsteen and longtime crowd favorite guitarist Steven Van Zandt was evident as they joked that the plug would be pulled if they didn’t finish their set soon enough before launching into several classics. Since 1984, Springsteen and Zandt have re-enacted the music video and performed it for the cameras in a dramatic room, and the ‘Glory Days’ have been filled with nostalgia.
‘Dance in the Dark’ and the extended ‘Tenth Avenue Freeze Out’ conclude the band’s tribute to Clarence Clemens, Springsteen’s longtime saxophonist, now paid by his nephew, Jake Clemens. Springsteen then returned for a stunning solo acoustic rendition of ‘I See You In My Dreams’ to close.
As much as everyone in the crowd knows it’s going to be a great show tonight, it’s hard to hide the impression Springsteen gives people from a live show. He held the audience’s attention from start to finish as he sang songs from his varied and impressive back catalogue. It was probably the strongest reaction from the BST Hyde Park crowd this year and if this is one of the boss’s last UK shows he’s certainly going out on a high.
Prepare list: 1. No Surrender 2. Ghosts 3. Check All Night 4. Letter to You 5. Promised Land 6. On the Street 7. Darlington County 8. Working on the Highway 9. Kitty’s Back 10. Night Shift (Commodores cover) 11. Mary’s Place 12. My Hometown 13. The River 14. Last Man Standing (Acoustic with Barry Daniels on Trumpet) 15. Back Streets 16. The Night (Patti Smith Group Cover) 17. She’s The One 18. Wrecking Ball 19. The Rising 20. Badlands 21. Thunder Road Encore: 22. Born In The United States 23. Born 24. Bobby Jean 25. Days Of Glory 26. Dancing In The Dark (Followed By Bands Intros) 27. Tenth Street Freeze-Out Encore 2: 28. I See In My Dreams (Solo Acoustic) Performance Date: July 6, 2023