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Bruce Springsteen Rocks The Apollo Theater

Bruce Springsteen
Larry Busacca, Getty Images

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band thrilled a capacity crowd of 1,500 people at New York’s legendary Apollo Theatre with a special preview of his upcoming tour. The 20-song, two-hour and five-minute concert, a celebration of SiriusXM’s 10th anniversary and a fundraiser for WhyHunger, was broadcast over the satellite radio service’s E Street Radio station.

The show borrowed heavily from Springsteen’s new album, ‘Wrecking Ball,’ with eight songs coming from the recently released CD, including the first two, ‘We Take Care of Our Own’ and the title track. Much of the rest of the set was filled out with time-honored staples like, ‘The Promised Land,’ The Rising’ and ‘Thunder Road.’

Throughout the night Springsteen paid tribute to the legendary Harlem venue. Lacking a proper hype man, he gave himself an introduction straight out of James Brown’s ‘Live at the Apollo’ album, referring to himself as the “man who paid the cost to be the Boss” and “the hardest-working white man in show business.”

They also performed several classic soul songs, the Temptations, ‘The Way You Do the Things You Do,’ which was prefaced by Springsteen talking about how much he had learned about life from the soul greats of the 1960s. That was followed by Wilson Pickett’s ’634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.),’ during which Springsteen climbed up into the balcony. The show closed with the refrain from Sam & Dave’s ‘Hold On, I’m Comin” as he was led off the stage by his tech in the style of James Brown.

Springsteen twice referenced his bandmates who have fallen in recent years. As the band introductions during ‘My City of Ruins’ came to a close, he repeatedly asked the crowd, “Are we missing anybody,” speaking not only of saxophonist Clarence Clemons, but also organist Danny Federici, who passed away in 2008. Eventually the crowd picked up the cue and rose to its feet. Springsteen continued “The only thing I can guarantee you is that if you’re here and we’re here, they’re here.”

During ‘Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,’ the band stopped as Springsteen sang the line, ‘They made that change uptown and the Big Man joined the band’ unaccompanied as the crowd cheered. The song kick backed into gear with the horn section playing Clemons’ famous two-bar solo in unison. It was a joyous celebration of everything Clemons brought to Springsteen’s music.

In his first non-televised gig as a member of the E Street Band, Jake Clemons acquitted himself well, stepping forward to play his uncle’s famous solo on ‘Badlands,’ ‘The Promised Land’  and ‘Thunder Road.’ He also played sang backup vocals on several other numbers.

As one would expect from a performance that was essentially a glorified dress rehearsal, there were a few rough spots. There were more than a few missed cues, and the sequencing could use some fine-tuning. For example, the performance of ‘Mansion on the Hill,’ with only Springsteen, Soozie Tyrell on violin and Patti Scialfa on vocals was beautiful, but it slowed the pace of the show coming immediately after ‘The Promised Land.’ But these didn’t detract too much from the power of the music, and we can expect that these kinks will be worked out by the time the tour opens in Atlanta on March 18.

1. We Take Care of Our Own
2. Wrecking Ball
3. Badlands
4. Death to My Hometown
5. My City Of Ruins
6. E Street Shuffle
7. Jack Of All Trades
8. Shackled & Drawn
9. Waiting On A Sunny Day
10. The Promised Land
11. Mansion On The Hill
12. The Way You Do The Things You Do
13. 634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A)
14. The Rising
15. We Are Alive
16. Thunder Road
17. Rocky Ground (w/Michelle Moore)
18. Land Of Hope and Dreams
19. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
20. Hold On, I’m Comin’

See Bruce Springsteen Pay Tribute to His Late Bandmates, “If You’re Here and We’re Here, They’re Here”

http://youtu.be/SH8vKjxX1Uw

Watch Bruce Springsteen Climb Into the Apollo Theatre Balcony During a Medley of ‘The Way You Do the Things You Do’ and ’634-5789′

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