Springsteen's Sound and Fury

springsteenBruce at the Cap Centre in 1981. (Joel Richardson/TWP File)

In advance of tonight's Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert, we've been going deep into The Washington Post archives to pull reviews of previous performances by The Boss & Co. This one was published on Aug. 5, 1981, and written by Mike Joyce.

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Archive Reviews

"Bruce! Bruce! Bruuuuce!" The stomping chant that has launched countless Bruce Springsteen concerts roared through the Capital Centre last night, 20,000 voices strong.

A thunderclap of recognition followed as two spotlights came up, focusing on Springsteen center-stage, the opening chords of his first song barely audible. In moments, Springsteen and the crowd were caught up in the throes of "Thunder Road." Clarence Clemons' mighty tenor sax pierced the din and Springsteen and his E Street Band were off and running for nearly three hours of extraordinary rock 'n' roll.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

The first hour was masterfully paced. Reflective ballads like "Independence Day" and a new song about Elvis Presley, written recently while Springsteen was touring Europe, were offset by the sound and fury of "Prove It All Night" and "Two Hearts."

During Clemons' sax break on "Promised Land," Springsteen put down his guitar and roamed the stage, fists held high, urging the capacity crowd to join him on the chorus. Little coaxing was necessary. He capped the tumultuous sing-along with a lung-collapsing harmonica solo that almost rivaled Clemons' playing in its intensity.

Another time he followed a remarkably faithful and moving rendition of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" with John Fogerty's "Who'll Stop the Rain." By then you couldn't have hoped for a tighter, more insistent sound from a rock band. They closed the first hour, as they had begun it, with the crowd growing hoarse with approval, this time for "Badlands."

If anything, Springsteen was even more committed to the music after the intermission. He was also a good deal more animated, leaping onto a couple of amplifiers during "Hungry Heart," choreographing his step with Clemons and guitarists Steve Van Zandt and Garry Tallent on an instrumental shuffle, wildly dancing across the stage with a woman hoisted from the audience during "Sherry Darling."

When he leaned her over backwards in his arm and planted a kiss on her lips, the crowd let out a cheer that was loud enough to stop traffic on the Beltway.

There was no stopping the songs, however. After being physically carried off the stage by Clemons following a particularly exhausting "Rosalita," Springsteen brought the concert to a stunning close with several encores, including Jungleland" and "Born to Run."

-- MIKE JOYCE

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Previously posted archival reviews, along with the rest of Post Rock's Springsteen-related content, can be found on our Bruce Springsteen index page.

By J. Freedom du Lac |  May 18, 2009; 3:05 PM ET From the Archives , Springsteen
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