The River: Revisited


Louisville, Ky. - Thirty-six years after releasing The River, Bruce Springsteen is bringing the contents of his fifth studio album, along with many of his hit songs, back to the stage.

Photos courtesy of Bruce Springsteen Facebook page

Photos courtesy of Bruce Springsteen Facebook page

Springsteen, along with the E Street Band, played in Louisville, Ky. on Sunday, Feb. 21. Throughout the set, which went on for three and a half hours with no intermission, Springsteen played a total of 35 songs. Starting with “Meet Me in the City,” an outtake from The River studio sessions, Springsteen seemed just as lively and energetic on “Bobby Jean,” the last song of the set.

The frontman wasn’t the only one with high energy. In the latter end of the set, guitarist Nils Lofgren performed an insane solo in “Dancing in the Dark,” complete with him spinning in circles. He never missed a note.

Jake Clemons is on his third tour with the E Street Band, bringing his own unique sound. Clemons is filling in for his uncle, Clarence Clemons, who played saxophone with E Street from 1972 until his death in 2011. Clemons honors his uncle’s legacy without mimicking his sound. Although the late Clemons brought a distinct and powerful sound to the band, Jake is an extremely strong player whose sound blends in nicely with the rest of the group.

Before the show started,The River seemed to be an odd choice to take on the road. While it certainly has it’s up-tempo hits, such as “Hungry Heart,” the second half of the double album has a mellow, laid back sound. As Springsteen told the audience, The River was a “coming of age album.”

I wasn’t sure if such an album could keep the audience’s attention for a long span of time. I was wrong.

It helped that Springsteen incorporated many of his well-known hits from his catalog, including “Born in the USA” and “Badlands.” However, even his ballads, including “Independance Day,” kept the audience enthralled.

The show had three major highlights. The first was hearing Springsteen and guitarist Steven Van Zandt harmonize on “Don’t Fade Away.” As a Van Zandt fan, hearing the duet live was a fantastic experience.     

Second, the show gave me a new appreciation for drummer Max Weinberg. Listening to the records, the drums never particularly stood out to me. However, hearing Weinberg powerhouse his way through the setlist made me rethink his contribution to the group.

The final highlight was one that cannot go unmentioned: audience interaction. I have never been to a show where the audience showed so much enthusiasm. Going back to the fact that Springsteen played continuously for over three hours, I was amazed at the energy that never seemed to leave the crowd.

During his renditions of tracks like “Because The Night” and “Hungry Heart,” audience members from the pit to the very top of the stadium were singing along word for word. The harmonica entrance to the title track was met with a deafening roar from the packed crowd. Even after a nonstop show, the E Street Band and audience alike were still able to knock out a cover of the Isley Brother’s “Shout.”

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If I took away anything from this show, it’s that Bruce Springsteen is one hell of a performer. Between ballads, hard rock, and crowd surfing, there’s a reason they call him The Boss.