I contributed to the “Notes from the Road” on Brucespringsteen.net.
Some additional thoughts:
The “Surprise, Surprise” performance was a dedication to a fan down front who (I assume) was celebrating a birthday. It would be fair to call this one of Bruce’s lesser compositions but the rest of the opening run of songs was so strong that this could be easily overlooked. The key to the early run was the audible of “Trapped,” which was a perfect choice to use as the bridge from “Prove It” to “Lost in the Flood.” It kept the audience engaged while also keeping the mood and intensity where Bruce wanted it.
My personal preference is for Bruce to get rid of the sign requests completely, but given that he’s unwilling to do so, I do have to complement him when he picks good ones. “Be True” followed by “Light of Day” was probably the best song request segment of the entire tour. “Light of Day” really burns, and its years of rest following the Reunion tour have done it well. Bruce did an extended guitar solo at the beginning, arguably his best guitar work of the night — on a night where there was a Prove It ’78 and a strong solo at the end of “Lost in the Flood.”
Sadly, Sam Moore didn’t get on stage but it was still wonderful to hear him singing (if only a few lines). He is quite possibly the single best guest star the E Street Band has ever had on its stage (a topic likely to be discussed on this site in the future) and it was again touching to hear Bruce talk about watching Sam and Dave at the Satellite Lounge in Fort Dix, NJ and how he learned the art of bandleading from Sam.
Bruce tends to get summational at the end of tours, and while this certainly wasn’t the end of the entire tour, there was still an element of that in the setlist, with the return of the “Apollo Medley” to bring things full circle, as well as the additional outing for the “78 Intro” to “Prove It All Night.”
I was surprised by the idiocy factor in the audience tonight. Some of it is attributable to the casual fans in the crowd not being prepared for a diehard-friendly set – “Be True” didn’t seem to engage much of the pit, let alone the rest of the house. Some limited incidents don’t really have an impact on the show, and just make one shake their head: people who were wearing guest passes smoking cigarettes in the pit.
The biggest problems occurred on “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” with not one but two members of the audience getting on the stage uninvited. Bruce was not pleased that he was forced to interrupt his “the change was made uptown, and the big man joined the band” exhortation because he was removing someone from his stage. (Personally, I was rooting for a hard tackle from security). Come the end of the song, he actually had the band repeat the “yeah, yeah, it’s alright” ending as another idiot interrupted him as they climbed up on the center platform and tried to put a hat on his head.
This was slightly shorter show than normal and although there was nothing listed on the setlist, I suspect the idiots during “Tenth Avenue” cost the crowd the chance at a bonus encore on this “finale” show for 2012.