Tonight’s show featured a very good performance and a great crowd but perhaps didn’t quite reach the heights of DC or the second show at the Meadowlands. Still, at only ten shows into the tour, getting a show like this now (rather than twenty or thirty shows in) is a very good omen both for Europe and the second US leg. With solid performances and an evolving setlist (still waiting for some more Promise material) things are shaping up quite nicely.
The introduction music was Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” with the band entering with the houselights up and staying up for “Badlands” which of course worked to great effect (the “Star Time” introduction got the ax, however). I get the impression that Bruce has struggled with where to fit “Badlands” in the set over the past few tours: it closed the set in 2007; it opened the set in 2009, and again, as it did tonight, it works quite well as an opener, although that’s not exactly breaking new ground. The third spot also worked fine but clearly Bruce wants to use that spot (as he usually does) as a “wild card” in the show. Tonight was fun, but I’ll bet Badlands gets moved around some more this tour as the opening song is another traditonal “wild card” slot in the show. I suppose Bruce could fit “Badlands” in the “Sunny Day” slot if he felt so included.
Bruce brought out his usual New York-New Jersey shtick (yes, that same one from “Light of Day” on the reunion tour) again before “My City of Ruins.” Note to Bruce: the Statute of Liberty is actually in New York). I didn’t care much for this pandering to the crowd; it took a little away from the power of the rest of Bruce’s introductions and exhortations during “My City of Ruins”
“Murder Incorporated” worked well and featured extensive soloing from Bruce and Steve at the end of the song. I was surprised that more of the crowd didn’t react strongly to the song so perhaps Bruce was right to bump this out of the opening slot, where it was originally placed (what a statement that would’ve been, however!)
The audibles in the middle of the show were quite welcome, first with “Shackled and Drawn” back in the show, and then the totally unexpected “Lion’s Den” (which was moved up from its original spot after “The Promised Land.”) “Lion’s Den” was obviously rehearsed and serves as a welcome sign that Bruce is continuing to consider different things on which to use the horns. If he’s comfortable breaking this out, surely The Promise material can’t be far behind. My fingers remain (optimistically) crossed that we’ll eventually get long-shots “Protection” or “Lying in a Bed of Fire” with those horns before the tour is out.
My frustrations with “Sunny Day” and “The Promised Land” are well documented but in some ways “Lonesome Day” is even more of a disappointment. I am fully on board with Bruce’s desire to play his “newer” material but the set does not need a fourth Rising song. What it needs — badly — is more material from Magic, a record that was underplayed on the last tour and apparently has gone missing entirely this tour, save a single appearance of “Radio Nowhere” in Tampa. The songs fit thematically. They fit with the band (some horns on “Livin’ in the Future” or “You’ll Be Coming Down” would be nice). Maybe “Gypsy Biker” was played out but “Long Walk Home” certainly wasn’t.
There is apparently some reason for hope that either “Sunny Day” or “The Promised Land” will get the boot from time to time. In addition to the audible of “The Promise” in Washington, one setlist that made the rounds from that show showed the comment “might skip” after Sunny Day, and “This Hard Land” was on the setlist at the second Meadowlands show in the spot where “The Promised Land” got played.
“Kitty’s Back” worked quite well in the encore and surprisingly captured the crowd better than it did in Philadelphia a week earlier. I wasn’t enamored with Jake’s performance on the song but will note that overall, I thought he had a very good night, with his solos on “Promised Land” and “Thunder Road” in particular his best efforts yet. Eddie Manion got a solo on “Lion’s Den” and I remain hopeful that there will be a bit more of an even split in solos as the tour progresses. I think Jake is doing a great job but remain fearful at times that the crowd embraces him too much for his name and less for his playing. Charlie Giordano has fit into this band quite well because of the latter; I want the same thing for Jake.