A review for Backstreets can be found here.
Be sure to check out the incredible video there courtesy Dan French (thank you for your meritorious service to the fan community).
Picture of the handwritten setlist can be found on Brucebase here.
“Wages of Sin” was just incredible.
There are times when the band pulls out an extreme rarity (or, occasionally a world premiere) and things don’t go so well. “Livin’ on the Edge of the World,” done at the second night at MetLife Stadium this past September is the obvious example. It was a great moment, but it would be fair to describe the performance as rough.
But tonight? It was perfect. I hesitate to use the phrase, given its frequent overuse with respect to performances this tour, but the band did indeed nail this song. There was thought put into the arrangement, with Max using mallets to get the right drum sound. Roy again showed why he’s the most valuable member of the band, and Curt Ramm’s trumpet part was a great addition – adding an additional texture without being dominant or overbearing.
And, as discussed in the Backstreets review, there was the way it was incorporated into the thematic arc of the setlist, with “The River” and the “Youngstown” – “Murder Incorporated” pairing after it.
Then there is the matter of “Ain’t Good Enough For You.” After tonight, it is even more of a puzzlement that this has not been performed more on this tour. This is the most obscure of songs and the crowd was immediately into it, singing along with the melody, clapping and dancing. Yes, the lyrics are complicated, but that’s where the teleprompter comes in handy, and Bruce had lyric sheets taped to each of the three platforms that extended out from the stage. I dare not dream how much the shows could be improved if this was played each night rather than “Sunny Day;” I just hope it could perhaps occasionally replace it. It would also make a great choice for the encore.
Given the amount of space devoted here to discussion of the Magic songs, I think it is indicative of what sort of show this was that it has taken four paragraphs before even beginning discussion of how the show opened, with not one but two songs from this superior album. “Long Walk Home” was superb, and it works very well at the beginning of the show, having been at the end on the Magic tour and when played on the Working on a Dream tour. “I’ll Work For Your Love” was a sweet tribute by Bruce to his fans (echoing its first use in that format, the Buffalo show in 2009). Here’s hoping that both of these songs do not remain rarities.
Bruce is now using the start of “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” to introduce the band. It works fine, but just takes a bit too long, due to the size of the band. Bruce forgot Max tonight, a casualty of same.
Nobody is perfect, and even this amazing setlist did have “American Land” as the final number. My impression is that “Rosalita” would have been a lot better in that spot. Aside from that, it’s hard to find much of anything to quibble over. Even “Lonesome Day” sounded refreshed, working much better as an “occasional” visitor to the set rather than an every-night song.
Special mention is due to the crowd in Turku which presented Bruce again with an eclectic selection of signs from which to choose. There were no “easy outs,” songs that the band regularly performs or are regularly in the set. The results speak for themselves. “Blinded By the Light” was a treat, and playing it in the usual “Spirit in the Night” slot showed the sign requests working effectively. Unlike the prior night, there was no “Queen of the Supermarket” downside to the signs, either.
Tonight’s show is a massively positive indicator for the balance of the European tour. No, Bruce will not be able to replicate tonight’s “Wages of Sin” moment on a nightly basis, but he certainly is able to create a show with a setlist of this quality again. I look forward to seeing him do so.