He Paid the Cost to Be The Boss: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Verizon Center

"44 years of performing experience! 30 years of psychiatric evaluation!" Photo by Erica Bruce.

Last Thursday, I road-tripped up to Philadelphia for what I think was my 15th Bruce Springsteen concert (but only my 14th with the pants-droppin’, heart-stoppin’, Earth-shakin’, booty-quakin,’ love-makin’, Viagara-takin’ etc., etc. E Street Band) since 1999. Three nights later, I saw my 16th (15th) here in DC at the Verizon Center.

For the City Paper, I wrote up some thoughts on the DC show, which differed significantly from the Philly one as you can see from the handy setlist table I have prepared below. Clip it out of your iPad’s retina display and post in your cubicle as a source of hourly inspiration!

Position First Union Center, Philadelphia, Thursday 3/29 Verizon Center, Washington, DC, Sunday 4/1
1 We Take Care of Our Own We Take Care of Our Own
2 Wrecking Ball Wrecking Ball
3 Night Night
4 Death to My Hometown Death to My Hometown
5 My City of Ruins My City of Ruins
6 Thundercrack Seaside Bar Song
7 Jack of All Trades Does This Bus Stop at 82nd St.?
8 Trapped (Jimmy Cliff) Jack of All Trades
9 Easy Money Trapped (Jimmy Cliff)
10 Prove It All Night Adam Raised a Cain
11 Darkness on the Edge of Town Easy Money
12 Waitin’ on a Sunny Day She’s the One
13 The Promised Land Waitin’ on a Sunnday Day
14 The Way You Do the Things You Do / 634-5789 The Promise
15 Streets of Philadelphia The Way You Do the Things You Do / 634-5789
16 The Rising American Skin (41 Shots)
17 We Are Alive Because the Night
18 Thunder Road The Rising
19 Rocky Ground We Are Alive
20 Kitty’s Back Thunder Road
21 Born to Run Rocky Ground
22 Dancing in the Dark Out in the Street
23 Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out Born to Run
24 N/A Dancing in the Dark
25 N/A Land of Hope and Dreams
26 N/A Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out

For more of Erica Bruuuuuuuuce’s photos from the DC concert, visit this gallery.

I think I was about 30 when I decided I was too old to buy souvenir concert T-shirts anymore, but I note that Springsteen’s official Wrecking Ball Tour merchandise all appears to have been designed by the same blind person who did all of his album covers with the exception of the Annie Liebovitz ones for Born in the U.S.A. and Tunnel of Love.

ENCORE: I sort of regret taking the title of my post from a funny fake Saturday Night Live commercial for a “just the stories” Springsteen boxed set. While Ben Stiller’s Springsteen impression delights me, the bit stopped being funny the minute Fred Armisen, in his role as E Street Band guitarist “Little” Steven Van Zandt, refers to a woman as a bitch. I’m unaware of him ever using that word in public when he wasn’t playing Silvio Dante on The Sopranos. Yes, it’s a joke, but unlike the skit’s primary inspiration — the fact that Springsteen used to tell shaggy dog stories in between, and sometimes during, his songs in concert — it’s not sending up something that actually happens.

Considering that nothing in Springsteen’s 40-year catalogue (or Van Zandt’s own output) would crack the top thousand most misogynistic rock or rap songs, I think it’s pretty low of Armisen and whoever wrote this to suggest, even jokingly, that Van Zandt talks this way.

ENCORE 2: This is the first song that plays on the P.A. after the show ends and 20,000 people file out across beer-sticky concrete floors. BadASS. I really wish James Brown had had the kind of freakish longevity as a live performer that Springsteen has, so I could’ve seen him.

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