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Bruce Springsteen fans from Asbury Park and beyond blog about The Boss
FIRST PERSON: Springsteen in Kansas City
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The writers of this blog are not music critics, and they don't consider a second (or third, fourth or fifth) mortgage to be a perfectly reasonable course of action to pay for front-row tickets, but despite being a whole lot more middle aged than ...
Bruce Springsteen
The writers of this blog are not music critics, and they don't consider a second (or third, fourth or fifth) mortgage to be a perfectly reasonable course of action to pay for front-row tickets, but despite being a whole lot more middle aged than they were when they first put Born in the U.S.A. or The River down on the turntable, still feels like Bruce has something -- OK, a lot of things -- to say about our country and the way we live our lives, things that not a lot of other artists are saying. And whether he's talking about the knife that can cut this pain from your heart, the house that's waiting for you to walk in or what that flag flying over the courthouse means, he's nailing down feelings that are so universal that they can raise your spirits and break your heart at the same time. Plus, lets face it, the man rocks.
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Nov. 21, 2012 12:01 a.m.

It was a long drive (960-ish miles round trip), but it was worth every mile and every bit of rubber burned to be at the Springsteen/E Street extravaganza in Kansas City the other night (setlist).
For one thing, it is impossible to overstate how fresh each show remains. Bruce is putting so much emphasis on changing up the setlists at this point; with the exception of the Wrecking Ball four-pack (“We Take Care”/”Wrecking Ball”/”Death To My Hometown”/”My City of Ruins”) and a chunk of the encore, it was a completely different show from Louisville two weeks ago.
The KC show opened with, what else, a cover of Lieber & Stoller’s “Kansas City” – and what a cover, with the horn section sounding absolutely immense, KC native Curt Ramm’s trumpet solo standing out particularly. “We wish we could resist playing this song, but we can’t!” Bruce proclaimed. Then a hard rocking three-pack of “Prove It,” “Candy’s Room,” and “She’s the One” ensured that everyone in the arena broke a sweat right from the start.
Bruce seemed to have some fun picking up signs, and when he was done, Stevie informed him that there was one more he needed to go get – and that was “Fire.” With a big grin on his face, Stevie started playing the riff practically before Bruce had even gotten back to the mic. (As a side note, I’d sort of planned on bringing my own sign saying “LET STEVIE PICK ONE!” – so I guess I got my request too!) There was some fantastic Bruce-and-Steve interplay on this song and it was tremendous fun.
Even more fun for me, because I’ve been going to shows since 1978 and have never gotten this one, was the sign that Bruce displayed next. CANDY’S ROOM, it said, and the audience made “um, you already played that one?” noises – until Bruce turned the sign around to show that the other side said “57th St” and cued Roy to strike up the opening notes of, yes, “Incident on 57th Street.” It was beautifully played and one of the few times I grabbed my phone out of my pocket to tweet: “INCIDENT!!!!!!!!!!!” I was a wee bit excited…
Incident moved almost seamlessly into “Because the Night,” a song I will never be sorry to get at any show, and the transition was gorgeous – Bruce drew it out a bit by singing “Take me now” several times before launching into the song, heating it up nicely. Maybe because Nils had already had a kick-ass solo during “Prove It,” maybe to get Steve back for “Fire” by putting him on the spot, maybe for no reason other than he felt like it, Bruce had Steve take the solo on this one – and he killed it dead but good. A different solo and different feel from Nils’ usual incendiary spinning virtuosity, but absolutely flaming hot and, again, a lot of fun.
Then a little string of songs from Born in the USA reminded me that the canceled show in 2009 was going to be a BITUSA album show. Of these I particularly enjoyed “Downbound Train” – which I’ve always thought is somewhat underrated as a song.
When “Land of Hope and Dreams” ended I assumed it was the end of the main set, but NO! Bruce gave a gleeful “HA HA!” into the mic and launched into “Light of Day”! Absolutely the hardest rocking song of the night, totally immersive, impossible to stand still. That song needs to show up more often.
Frequently the encores have been opening with either “Rocky Ground” or “Thunder Road” – but in Kansas City, after the food bank PSA, Bruce took a moment to remind us that the 2009 show had been canceled at the last minute due to the unexpected death of his cousin and tour manager Lenny Sullivan.
In a spare arrangement featuring Soozie and Nils, the rarely-performed “My Beautiful Reward” – dedicated to Sullivan – was exquisite and utterly poignant. By which I mean, I think I still have goosebumps from it. For the first time ever in my life, when the lights came up for “Born to Run” immediately after this song, I was just not ready for “Born to Run.” It took me about the entire first verse to switch gears.
“Santa Claus” was fun, as always – without Clarence there is an issue of who’s going to do the ho-ho-ho part, and in KC it was handled mostly by the horn section but Stevie also chimed in, causing the rock-solid Garry Tallent to break up laughing. (I don’t think there is anything I love more at these shows than watching the little interactions among the band members.) After Santa, Bruce stripped off his Santa hat and then, with the assistance of guitar tech Kevin Buell and with no small amount of comic struggle (hard to undress when you’re that sweaty…) he lost the vest and button-down shirt, leaving him down to his soaking-wet t-shirt for “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.”
One for the ages? Probably not, but this show was at times more smokin’ than any KC BBQ. I don’t think the E Street Band is capable of giving a mediocre performance these days (if they ever were), and I’m sorry that this show – the fifth for me this tour – has to be my last. For now. Until the next one.
(Read more of about Anne’s Kansas City adventure – including a run-in with a certain bandanna-d E Streeter - at her blog here.)
Bruce Springsteen singing

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