Playing “Born in the USA” for a festival crowd is a logical move, and Bruce was clearly focusing on his three British shows as a set, as he had done “Darkness” in Wembley and “Born to Run” in Coventry.
The lack of imagination necessary to choose to full album performances is well-documented here and need not be repeated. These issues notwithstanding, playing “Born in the USA” on consecutive nights was not an error on Bruce’s part, and while my personal preference is for something different, it seemed clear that a majority of his paying customers were happy with the choice.
The issue with London’s show was that the actual performance of the material was severely lacking. Paris may have been a completely unadventurous setlist but there was little complaint as to how well those songs were played.
London, conversely, did have a few different choices for the set surrounding the album but the performance as a whole was simply not up to the standard that is reasonably expected from an E Street Band show.
“Reason to Believe,” for example, was a more challenging choice for a festival audience, but never got the chance to work as Bruce and the band were out of sync for the entire song. If Bruce is going to leave his setlist variety to the whims of the signs he sees down front, these results can be expected. Additional time spent on pre-show rehearsals during soundcheck is clearly warranted; the benefits of which can clearly be heard in, for example, “Save My Love” from Wembley two weeks ago, or the version of “Long Time Comin’” from Coventry.
With only thirteen shows left on the European leg, there are still plenty of opportunities for Bruce to finish out the tour strongly. It would seem logical that one of the remaining German shows will get “Born to Run” (“USA” having been done in Munich), and the prediction here is that the Limerick, Cork and Belfast shows will each get one of the three albums being done on the tour. That leaves wide open the possibility for some special shows before the end of the month, including, in particular, the arena show in Leeds and the two final nights in Kilkenny.