Bruce Springsteen at The RDS, Dublin

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band at The RDS, Dublin on July 17th 2012

Review: Aidan Cuffe
Photos: Kieran Frost

Somebody slap me. I clearly deserve it for only now managing to have my first Bruce Springsteen experience. It feels incredulous that our paths have not crossed thus far.

My stupidity would be rectified tonight and it didn’t take long for Bruce to show what I had been missing. Appearing on stage and dragging out a large power switch to the front of the stage, pulling the lever from off to on, greeted with a huge cheer from the crowd. “Before we were so rudely interrupted“, Bruce roars as the E-Street band kick into Twist And Shout (the song they were playing as the power was pulled in Hyde Park) and following it up with a rendition of The Clash’s – I Fought The Law. “Let that be a lesson to them” he says, clearly not over the recent curfew issues.

Nobody could argue with the content, it is without question. We Take Care Of Our Own and Death To My Hometown are early highlights, culminating in five of the band members marching at the front of the stage, with ringleader Bruce strutting his stuff, shouting “What’s the curfew tonight?, Never in Ireland, NEVER”. Everything on stage is as it should be, but fluctuating volume levels are taking away from an impressive start to the show. Fortunately the problem only lasted a couple of songs. My City Of Ruins seems to speak to the crowd, with the battle cry of “come on rise up” and our main man hammering that harmonica. Prove It All Night with extended intro, Jack Of All Trades and Workin’ On The Highway are as good live, as on CD as we pass the 15 song mark, most normal gigs would be over now but Bruce is just hitting his stride.

Waiting On A Sunny Day seems appropriate considering the weather we have enjoyed thus far, as a young girl is pulled up on stage and helped sing the verse before adorably repeating “Come On E-Street Band“. Jake Clemons plays a starring role tonight, with repeated interactions between himself and Bruce as part of songs in a carefully co-ordinated set. He seems to have the passion and skill of his late uncle and his presence is a fitting homage to fill the gap left by The Big Man. Raise Your Hand has Bruce atop of the piano as he whips the crowd up. Land Of Hope And Dreams really packs a punch and the crowd show their appreciation. The band take a bow but they are the furthest thing from finished.

We are well into hit zone, Born In The USA gets the loudest crowd response of the night, Born To Run has us bouncing, while Rosalita is easily the highlight of the night for us, dancing is mandatory with the entire crowd on their feet bouncing along to this classic. Every ounce of Bruce’s showmanship is unleashed as he takes Rosalita and this Dublin crowd by the scruff of the neck and shakes us to our core. “curfew, curfew” he says and then grabs a sign from the crowd that reads “Only The Boss Says When To Pull The Plug”. Dancing In The Dark see’s Bruce pulling a woman up to dance with him, showing his tender side and sleek moves while Jake takes centre stage. A touching tribute to Clarence is greeted with a minutes applause at the tail end of Tenth Ave Freeze-Out.

It was pantomime as Twist & Shout is preceded by an english bobby and a manager type, coming out gesturing about time and trying to turn the power off. Bruce brushes them off and the band hits into Twist & Shout again. A false finish or two later, including an on stage faux-scuffle between Bruce and the bobby and a brilliantly worked stop and start by the band every time the power level was switched to off. It was entertaining and excellently executed. This phenomenal gig, which bridged towards the four-hour mark came to a close with a lively thrashing out of American Land until the power is finally switched to off.

This time it was on The Boss’s terms and rightly so, you just cannot stop a show while they are still playing. Hit him with fines if need be, but as the press backlash over the Hyde Park gig shows, you just do not pull the plug. There’s a master at work, and Dublin realised it.

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