Now a regular feature of E Street Band tours (each of the last four), a summer run of shows at Giants MetLife Stadium has the potential to be a highlight of the tour. With only three shows this time, there may not be quite as much room for Bruce to stretch out his catalog as he’s done in the past, but there should still be plenty of opportunities for some setlist variation.
Bruce has spoken often about how he knows he gets repeat customers at these shows and his choice of songs seems to reflect that, with each show typically a bit different than the one prior. The three nights in Boston in August (2 at Fenway Park, 1 at Gillette Stadium) featured 58 different songs over the show. Suffice to say, if Bruce is going to pull out 50-60 songs over this stand, things are likely to be good, and topping 60 (easily achievable) would be quite welcome. Most notably, this is the only three-show run on the tour to date, with all other stops being one or two nights, so the hope here is that Bruce takes the opportunity to dig deep.
1. Bruce’s birthday will be a non-factor. Yes, there was that legendary show in Philadelphia on the Reunion tour, taking place the day after Bruce turned 50. But looking at other recent shows that occurred near Bruce’s birthday, he hasn’t gone out of his way to acknowledge it. This is not to say that the Saturday night show, the last of the stand, isn’t likely to be a great show. If it is, it’ll be because of what’s played, and not whose birthday it is the next day.
2. At least two tour debuts of rarely played, Springsteen-composed songs (not covers), that are played because Bruce wants to and not because of a sign. The band is clearly comfortable with the regular live catalog (most of the first six albums, The Rising and Wrecking Ball) and that will continue to be the bulk of the set. Recent trends have shown, however, that Bruce is experimenting more with his back catalog as the tour progresses. (Witness “None But the Brave” coming out in Chicago or “Nothing Man” in the Washington, DC soundcheck).
Back at home, without having to fly in to the shows, Bruce will have extra time to prepare and do pre-show rehearsals. Maybe this stand is where “TV Movie” finally comes out. Maybe it’s something safer, such as “Roulette” or “Pink Cadillac.” Hopefully it’s something like “Roll of the Dice,” “Tunnel of Love” or “You’ll Be Coming Down.”
3. “Jersey Girl” will be played at least once. (Ok, maybe this prediction isn’t so bold).
The “Stay Hard, Stay Hungry, Stay Alive” Wishlist:
1. Anything from “The Promise.” It is inexplicable to me why “Talk to Me” and “Save My Love” haven’t been played more than four times this tour.
2. “I Wanna Be With You.” It’s been played a handful of times on past tours, but this gem from Tracks could be an every-night addition to the set and wouldn’t grow stale.
3. Songs from Magic. It was at Giants Stadium in 2009 that Bruce revisited “Long Walk Home” and “Last to Die” for the first time since the Magic tour ended. Now’s as good a time as any to do it again. “Living in the Future” would be a great choice.
4. Patti Scialfa. Bruce has mentioned from the stage recently that he’s got a “two-touring family now” but hopefully Mrs. Springsteen is in town and can make it to the shows. From a setlist perspective, there are lots of things that tend to only get played when she’s at a show (“Easy Money,” Tunnel of Love songs, “Human Touch”), but I also am a fan of having her there with the band and it’s always quite fun to watch her and Bruce interact during the show.
5. “Lyin’ in a Bed of Fire.” An extreme longshot? Sure. Trust me, though, this would be incredible.