decades from now, When historians and epidemiologists look back on the era of Covid, they will likely have a hard time pinpointing the exact moment when the pandemic ended in America and normal life resumed. Some will likely point to the day in August 2021 when the vaccination rate hit 70 percent, while others will highlight April 2022, when airlines dropped mask mandates, or even Joe Biden. 60 minutes Interview a few months later when he openly declared the end of the pandemic despite protests from members of his administration. Others may say that this moment has not yet come.
From another perspective, though, there is a strong case to be made that it occurred on February 1 at 8:01 PM EST. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band They walked on stage at Tampa, Florida’s Amalie Arena and kicked off their world tour with a stunning performance of “No Surrender” in front of 20,000 screaming, maskless fans.
The moment came after six long, agonizing years of inactivity for the E Street Band — including multiple tour delays due to Covid concerns — and an outpouring of anger over Springsteen’s decision to dramatically raise ticket prices this time around. “I know he wasn’t popular with some of the fans,” Springsteen said Rolling Stone late last year, in his only statements so far regarding the controversy. “But if there are any complaints about the director, you can get your money back.”
No one in Tampa seems to be heading for the redemption streak as No Surrender is split into the ‘ghosts’ of 2020 message to you. By this point, any concerns that the E Street Band might need some shows to shake off six years of rust were gone. They were tightly locked in, beaming with joy, fueling the frantic atmosphere in the crowd.
It was also a slightly different incarnation of the band that now includes four backup singers (Curtis King, Michelle Moore, Lisa Lowell, Ada Dyer), a five-piece horn section (Kurt Rahm, Barry Danielian, Eddie Mannion, Ozzie Melendez, Jake Clemons), and a percussionist. Anthony Almonte plus the usual crew of Soozie Tyrell, Charlie Giordano, Steve Van Zandt, Nils Lofgren, Garry Tallent, Roy Bittan, Patti Scialfa and Max Weinberg.
The 18-piece band might seem like overkill considering the original E Street band only matched five musicians, but this offering covers a lot of musical ground, including selections from Springsteen’s 2022 Souls LP Only the strong survive, and no one felt that it was superfluous. This was especially true on “Kitty’s Back,” when Springsteen gave just about everyone in the band their little moment to shine. Two songs later, he called the background singers to the front to close the vocals with him on “Nightshift,” a 1985 Commodores classic that was one of the evening’s biggest highlights.
The extended layoff has made E Street standards like “The Promised Land,” “Out in the Street,” and “Prove It All Night” sound fresh and lively again, while the dark Nebraska Deep cut “Johnny 99” has become an arena anthem. But the most emotional moment came in the middle of the night, when the entire band left the stage, leaving Springsteen alone with his acoustic guitar.
Addressing the crowd for the first time of the evening, he told the story of forming his first band, Castile, with childhood friend Georges Theis. He said, “Stop 50.” “On another summer’s day, I found myself standing by George’s deathbed…his death would make me the last surviving member of my first band. It’s like standing on a rail with the hot light of an oncoming train hurtling towards you. It brings you clarity of thought and purpose you may not have thought in it before.”
He continued his story, “I came home and about a week later George died. Shortly after that, I wrote this song. It’s about the job we choose, the friends we choose, the passion we pursued as kids. At 15, everything is tomorrow. At 73, the lot From yesterday. So many goodbyes. That’s why you have to make the most of it now.”
The arena reached complete silence as he sang “Last Man Standing” from it. message to you For the first time to a live audience. The song focuses on his memories of Theis, and the difficult realization that he is now the last of the Castilians. “A flock of angels, lift me up some way” he sang. “Somewhere high and hard and loud / Somewhere deep in the heart of the crowd / I’m the last man standing now.”
Few artists outside of Springsteen could create such an intimate and honest moment on the basketball court named after an oil company. He followed it up with another mellow person message to you song, “House of a Thousand Guitars”, before getting everyone back on their feet for “Backstreets”. The main set ended with “Because It’s Night”, “She’s the Only One”, “Wrecking Ball”, “Rookie” and “Badlands”. The band has had plenty of 70th birthdays since they last played together, but somehow they’ve played those songs with the same level of gusto and passion they’ve had for decades.
After a quick bow, the band didn’t even bother to go through the charade of leaving the stage before the encore set. It began with the live premiere of “Burnin’ Train” before turning on the house lights in an upbeat double take of “Born to Run” and “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”. They then returned to 1984’s hits with “Glory Days” and “Dancing in the Dark,” though the latter was a slightly shortened version because no Courteney Kocsis wannabe came on stage to dance. (This may have been due to Covid concerns, which could also explain why they don’t crowd surfing at any time of the night.)
The night concluded with “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” — complete with video tributes to the late Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici — and the vocal solo “I’ll See You in My Dreams” that brought the arena back to complete silence.
It’s another song to say goodbye to the one you love, and a reminder that “death is not the end.” As Springsteen sang it, it was hard not to think Jeff BeckAnd David CrosbyAnd Tom VerlaineAnd Barrett Strong, and all the other icons we’ve lost in recent weeks, or the fact that artists of Springsteen’s generation, to use his own words, have far more yesterdays than tomorrows. But whatever happens in the future, Springsteen and the E Street Band are finally back on the road, and they’ll be out there for at least a year. Let’s enjoy every second of it while we still can.
Here is the complete list:
1. “No Surrender”
3. “Prove it all night long”
4. “A Letter to You”
5. “The Promised Land”
6. “On the Street”
7. “The Candy Room”
8. “Kitty’s Back”
9. “Brilliant Disguise”
10. “Nightshift” (Commodores cover)
11. “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)” (Ben E. King cover)
12. “The E Street Shuffle”
13. “Johnny 99”
14. “The Last Man Standing”
15. “House of a Thousand Guitars”
16. “The Backstreets”
17. “Because it’s night”
18. “She’s the One”
19. “Wrecking Ball”
22. “The Burning Train”
23. “Born to Run”
24. “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”
25. “Glory Days”
26. “Dancing in the Dark”
27. “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”
28. “I’ll see you in my dreams”