Night two in the books and I am pleased to report that the show is already improving and has loads of potential.
The encore may not be perfect but dumping “American Land” is extremely encouraging. He did introduce the song in Atlanta with a wish for a “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” so perhaps its appearance there was a one-time only performance. Needless to say, this was a big upgrade in the setlist as almost no other song needs a rest as badly as “American Land” did. I am not convinced that Rosalita is an every-night choice but given that Bruce hadn’t played it at his prior three stops in Greensboro with the E Street Band, it was a great pick for inclusion in the set.
The other key setlist change was putting in “Because the Night” late in the set. Nils’ solo always goes over like gangbusters with the crowd but regardless, the performance smoked and helped tighten the back half of the main set. It still seems as if “The Rising” and “We Are Alive” should be flipped.
The Greensboro audience was also extremely generous and welcoming to Jake Clemons. Fortunately, there were some developments in the show that have helped ease the transition of Jake as a seeming direct successor to Clarence. In particular, the end of Thunder Road was enhanced by the entire horn section coming down front to do the key horn part at the end of the stage. Combined with Bruce’s newfound energy for this song and the audience singalong, having the whole section down front contributes to the communal aspects of the performance and works better than Jake trying to imitate Clarence. I also found it a good idea to have Nils and Steve come up to sing the “and kid you better get the picture” line in Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.
It still strikes me as extraordinarily odd that Bruce has not introduced Everett Bradley to the crowd. His name was mumbled as Bruce did the “roll call” but there has been no attempt to explain his presence on the stage. He is not a mysteriously anonymous Viola player on a one-time-only performance of “The Angel,” either. Everett is there for the entire show, taking percussion solos and at the front of the stage on vocals. Curtis and Cindy were introduced after they joined the band. Jay Weinberg was regularly acknowledged. There was an entire press release when the horn section was announced for this tour. I think the audience is almost owed an introduction of how this person is.
There were some notable problems with the sound mix in having the various instruments at the right volumes — notably, the horns were too low in the mix during “E Street Shuffle,” “Seeds” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” and there were problems with the guitar at the end of “Seeds.” Bruce seemed to have trouble with his monitors and had to request things to be brought up several times as well.
Bruce dedicated “The Way You Do The Things You Do” to his daughter who was at the show with a large group of her friends, and both Bruce and Patti clearly had a lot of fun singing the song to them.
The Greensboro audience lived up to their well-deserved reputation as one of the best crowds for Bruce in the US. The crowd was energetic and enthusiastic in the right places, quiet and respectful in the right places as well.