Springsteen had the distinction of being silenced by the authorities at his concert in London at the weekend. Last night, he took the stage for the first of two shows at Dublin’s RDS with a sprightliness that belies his age — he will be 63 in September.
On record, Springsteen has often been guilty of sticking to a tried and trusted formula. Live, he dispels any doubt as to his conviction. He performs with the intensity of a man who’s just been told the night will be his last.
At the RDS, Springsteen mixed up his new material with the old, following the timeless ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ with the recent ‘Jack of All Trades’, and ‘The River’ with ‘The Rising’. Tracks from Wrecking Ball, which chronicles the failing of the American dream, are the angriest he has recorded in years.
Two hours and a quarter in, Springsteen lines the band up to be introduced and take their bows. But he barely walks off stage when he’s on again for an encore that includes ‘We Are Alive’ and ‘Born to Run’.
Springsteen’s band includes his wife, Patti Scialfa, on vocals and guitar. The death of saxophonist Clarence Clements last year robbed Springsteen of his most steadfast sidekick, but he clearly relished trading quips with Clement’s nephew Jake and the two guitarists who have done most to hone the E Street Band sound, Steven Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren.
Springsteen seemed ready to wrap up the three-hour set with ‘Tenth Avenue Freeze-out’ and a video tribute to Clarence Clement at 10.30pm. Then an English bobby briefly appeared onstage to remind Springsteen of the curfew. Springsteen responded with a typically exhilarating ‘Twist and Shout’ and a jig. It’s true — only The Boss says when to pull the plug.